Joe Danger 2: The Movie Review

By Sophie Prell - Posted Sep 19, 2012

If you're a fan of Joe Danger, there's more of what you loved in the same candy coated flavor as the original. If you're not a fan of Joe already, there's not much reason to recommend this sequel which, while at times can be genuinely fun and rewarding thanks to its smooth difficulty curve, ultimately ends up more frustrating and irritating than enjoyable.

The Pros
  • Easy to learn, hard to master; the sweet spot of difficulty
  • Colorful, varied environments and objectives
  • Level editor for lots of replayability
The Cons
  • Confusing and unclear in instructions at times
  • Oddly-spaced checkpoints or lack thereof make restarts frustrating
  • Not much content for the price

Joe Danger 2: The Movie The Review:

While XBLA hit Trials focuses on realistic graphics and careful balance, Joe Danger 2: The Movie takes a more arcade-style approach and is all about twitch reaction button pressing. Its Saturday morning cartoon style silliness and aesthetics are back, as is the gameplay of the first Joe Danger. If you liked the first one you'll find more of the same here, but it's hard to recommend the title for anyone without a vested interest.

Joe Danger 2: The Movie

So Sweet It's Sick

Joe Danger 2: The Movie is probably what Excitebike would be if it were released for the high-def generation. The core premise is simple: Race Joe from start to finish within a time limit. Multiple objectives on each level add to replayability, very similar to the structured skating arenas of Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD. Completing these alternate objectives grants stars, which are then used to unlock more levels.

In some levels, Joe will be breaking dinosaur eggs. In others, he'll stop missiles from launching. In still others, he'll disable giant robots which are attacking the city. The idea that Joe has become an action movie star for such B-movie knockoffs as “Total Freefall,” “Top Fun,” and “Timed Cop” allows for lots of variety in level design. The look of each level is cute and kid friendly, with smiling ice cubes, pudgy pterosaurs, and Power Ranger lookalike bank robbers.

In other words, the sugary sweetness is so sweet it might just give you a real-life cavity or three. If puns, kid-friendly aesthetics and cartoon physics aren't your thing, Joe Danger 2: The Movie isn't going to convince you otherwise. If you like those sorts of thing however, you'll find plenty to like and smile at. The game very nicely invites you to sit down, hold some crayons, and have a laugh.

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Deceptive And Dangerous

Don't be fooled though, because that's when the game also bludgeons you over the head with some insanely difficult challenges. As Joe races through each level, there are plenty of obstacles to avoid, and to earn every medal, you'll need a combination of fast reflexes, determination and muscle memory. The ultra-difficult platformer has made a comeback in recent years thanks to titles like Super Meat Boy, but Joe Danger doesn't pull it off quite so well.

Part of the reason Joe Danger struggles with this is because many of the levels require a trial-and-error approach, and the game isn't always clear with what it expects of you. There is no tutorial, no practice levels. Sometimes Joe will be plopped into totally new circumstances or sat behind the wheel of a new vehicle and you just have to figure things out as you go. This can be particularly annoying with the game's new modes of transportation, the jetpack and unicycle.

Joe Danger 2: The Movie

Sometimes the game will warn you to duck or jump to avoid an oncoming obstacle, but other times it won't. There doesn't seem to be any reason or pattern to the distinction, so it can be confusing and irritating to restart an entire level from the beginning because the announcer didn't warn you of the third jump you missed, even though he pointed out jumps one and two.

Another reason things get frustrating is because Joe Danger 2 rarely gives you an idea of where you're at in terms of progress. On levels where a star is granted on condition of a time limit, a clock ticks down on-screen. But in every other level, even though time factors into score, it doesn't show up. Other icons are small and shoved to a corner of the screen, when it would be just as easy to display these up top or in a way that didn't necessitate taking attention away from the action.

Joe Danger 2: The Movie

The Short End Of A Short Stick

There are many parts of Joe Danger 2: The Movie that simultaneously feel extraneous and unnecessary while the game as a whole feels incredibly short. For example, the game's levels are divided into acts of a movie. At the end of each act, a clip reel runs that shows brief sequences from the levels you just played. It's like a highlight reel, only it doesn't actually use your gameplay.

So why am I watching these? I just played these levels. There's no need to show me them again, especially if the game doesn't use my run for footage. These would've served better as previews of an act, to give players an idea of what was coming up. Since they're unskippable and serve no purpose, they just feel like a waste of time, and time isn't something Joe Danger 2: The Movie has a lot of.

I completed five of Joe Danger 2's six acts, plus one of its “deleted scenes” – another collection of levels, generally more challenging or wacky than the standard levels – in just over an hour. While I didn't earn every single star I could have, the game informed me I had nonetheless collected 37 percent of all stars in the game by that point. If I have more than a third of what the game offers after just an hour, I'd say that's short. Too short for a game that costs $15. Too short, even for an XBLA title.

Joe Danger 2: The Movie

Put It In Park

If you're a fan of Joe Danger, there's more of what you loved in the same candy coated flavor as the original. If you're not a fan of Joe already, there's not much reason to recommend this sequel which, while at times can be genuinely fun and rewarding thanks to its smooth difficulty curve, ultimately ends up more frustrating and irritating than enjoyable.

When other downloadable games offer a similar experience for the same price or less with a more streamlined experience, tenfold the content and just as much replayability, it becomes hard to recommend Joe Danger 2: The Movie, no matter how cute and competent its design is.