Joe Danger Review

By Scott Alan Marriott - Posted Jun 21, 2010

Joe Danger is a stunt racing game designed in the spirit of Nintendo's Excitebike that's colorful, comical, and challenging. Underneath the cheerful exterior lies an addictive game with deep play mechanics, but a few questionable online decisions undermine its true potential.

The Pros
  • Tight controls
  • Addictive, challenging gameplay
  • Multiple ways to attack each course
The Cons
  • No online lobby to download or upload custom courses
  • Only local multiplayer support for head-to-head races

Combine the DNA of Ricky Bobby, Super Dave Osborne, and Evil Knievel and you might come up with Joe Danger, a former world class stunt driver whose best days have passed him by. Or have they? You're aiming to change Danger's fate, by showing the world that Joe has a little gas left in the tank. Combining elements of Nintendo's Excitebike and RedLynx's Trials HD, Joe Danger is a side-scrolling motorcycle racer with laughs aplenty and style to spare.

Joe Danger

Kickin' it Old School

After sailing through a training level designed to show you the ropes, you'll be able to enter a series of progressively elaborate stunt courses to show off your riding skills. The side-scrolling perspective, huge ramps, and controls are highly reminiscent of Excitebike, albeit with far more things to do. Each course has multiple lanes, for instance, allowing you to freely move into the background and foreground, and the obstacles you'll need to overcome are far more varied.

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Jumping the Shark

True to his stunt racing background, the pot-bellied protagonist will attempt to leap over school busses, shark tanks, stacked cars, and other dangers, all while ducking under or hopping over railings, bouncing off springs, performing back flips and wheelies, and of course, leaning forward and backward to maintain balance. You also have a boost meter that's filled by stringing combos and performing a variety of amusing tricks (Joe Danger always smiles for the camera) while in the air. Controls are as intuitive as they are responsive; after a few runs, you'll be focusing on your technique rather than trying to recall which button does what.

What makes Joe Danger fun is that it has the old-school charm of trying to improve your high score, fastest times, and so forth. Since courses are relatively short in length, you're encouraged to keep revisiting them to best your previous performance or clear one of the many potential secondary objectives. You'll need to collect all of the blue stars on a course, for example, spell out the word D-A-N-G-E-R, locate hidden stars, complete a course under a certain time, snag coins at high speeds, and perform various other feats. With all the jumping and bouncing, it almost feels like you're Super Mario on pocket bike.

Joe Danger

Sharing the Danger

The single-player campaign features ten "tours," each spanning multiple levels, and a potential for unlimited fun with a built-in course designer that's a snap to use. There's only one problem. While you can share your custom creations with friends, there's no community upload site to share with the PlayStation Network. Those expecting the same type of “Play, Create, Share” system offered by LittleBigPlanet or ModNation Racers will be disappointed that you can't download or rate courses made by those outside of your friends' list.

Joe Danger offers multiplayer support as well, but this is also a bit disappointing. You are limited to a split-screen, no-frills race against a friend on a handful of courses. The fast-paced action would have been great to enjoy online, especially if you could create custom tournaments with a never ending supply of downloadable courses to choose from. And while the game supports leaderboards, there's no way to capture and share video replays of your death-defying runs. In short, there's a lot of potential for this game to do more than it currently does, but the single-player action is so good, you may not care.

Joe Danger

Beautiful Disaster

Despite losing some of its luster in the online arena, Joe Danger is a must-play game for Excitebike or Trials fans who enjoy setting new high scores and shattering previous records by honing their skills. The physics, controls, and presentation are first-rate, and the sense of humor is infectious. No course plays exactly the same, thanks to the variety of things you can do with your bike, making for a great pick-up-and-play game that's the epitome of "easy to learn, hard to master." Joe Danger isn't perfect, but he runs circles over most downloadable titles