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Dec 16 2011

Review of Joe Danger SE

It’s always a great when a good thing gets spread around especially when it’s a game that has been held back to a single platform. As much as console exclusivity has its place it’s always a pity when people are denied fun unique games, especially when they’re from Indie devs who need the business. Thankfully there is a cure to these woes, the port; we’re lucky enough to see one this week to one of the PSN’s brightest stars Joe Danger. It’s of course not enough for a new audience to get access to an awesome game though, it’s also a bulked up special edition. Question is though are the changes substantial enough to make a year old game worth the effort? Read on and find out.

As you can they took the Lab idea and really ran with it.

Well obviously the first thing we have to talk about is the  new goodies in here that weren’t in the original PSN release which thankfully are pretty meaty. First off is the addition of a bunch of new levels which are mostly contained in “The Lab” which is a sort of campaign that acts a self-described Master Class for Joe Danger gameplay. All in all (according to the press release) there are a total of 15 hours worth of new gameplay added here and I can believe it, the amount of content here is staggering. There have also been more playable characters added as well as the pro-medal system. Pro-medals are awarded for particularly excellent gameplay and unlock a variety of things from new costumes to avatar awards to even supposedly stuff in future Hello Games titles (assuming the tool tips are to be believed). Of course some technical additions have been made as well such as a higher amount of anti-aliasing (read smoother better graphics) and the load times have been shortened by 80%, time between deaths is at Super Meat Boy levels of speed.

Those stars in the bottom right are the conditions for gold stars and if you can get them all in one run you'll probably get a Pro-Medal.

For the uninitiated the gameplay may not require a lot of explanation but it’s quality can be summed up in one simple thought: despite the fact I’m awful at this game I love it to death. Essentially the goal here is to play Excitebike while completing as many extraneous objectives as possible. The catch is that those extraneous objectives generally matter more than actually than the actual goal of the level as they provides gold stars which are what unlocks further levels and gauge your success. This means you can play however you want which is incredibly refreshing; you feel the need for speed then go for it, tricks galore for score also a possibility, or hey maybe you just want to platform and collect all the collectibles which is fine too as that’s also an option. The gameplay is incredibly simple but with so many ways to play you’ll never feel fenced in by it. This also helps a a lot with the frustration of the game (as it can be very difficult, especially in later levels) as often times the solution is just trying to succeed using a different tact or ignoring the particular bonus you were going for and trying for a different one. It’s pure simple arcade fun and it can’t help but be enjoyed.

This is exactly the kind of stupid-yet awesome-shit you could make with the sandbox.

Aside from the strict campaign and the Lab there are a couple other gameplay modes. First off is the multi player which I sadly didn’t get a chance to play so I can’t really comment on it. The reason I couldn’t play it is because it’s local split screen only which is a pity because I don’t even have an extra 360 controller kicking around, let alone a player 2 I can reliably call upon. It sucks that’s the case but it’s a minor issue and there’s more than enough to do without it though having that online would have a major upgrade from the original. The other mode available is the Sandbox mode which allows you to build levels and send them to them to friends over Xbox Live. It’s fairly in-depth and you can create pretty much any course you could want with it. The only issue is a lack of explanation in its controls, despite the fact I designed a fun level I would have been proud to share I couldn’t figure out how to place a finish line and therefore my level went on forever. Again it’s a minor squabble and I’m sure if I spent more time fiddling with that mode I could have figured it out eventually but the fact that something so important wasn’t readily spelled out is somewhat disconcerting.

If you like great Simpsons style background jokes, Joe Danger has you covered.

Lastly we have the presentation which is, as it was on the PS3, absolutely perfect for what this game is trying to do. The visuals are over-saturated and bright with a cartoony colourful  aesthetic you can’t help but love. All the models in the game have this very soft look to them that makes everything kind of feel like a toy in some awesome Warner Bros canyon set diorama. It’s a look that plays perfectly to the attitude of the game and is genuinely fun to look at (and varied enough to enjoy) throughout your entire play through. The music is also great as it’s insanely cheerfully and relaxing, it’s sonic Zoloft, it makes everything just kind of chill and happy. It’s also catchy as hell and you will find yourself singing the menu music to your dying day. Hell I’m going load up this game whenever I have a bad day just so I can have it play in the background and make my day a little brighter.

I’m happy to say definitively this release is not just a port but a genuine improvement to the original and a damn fun game actually worth your $15. My only hope is that some of these improvements eventually make their way back to the PSN version as well, as it’d be pity for those users to miss out on the additions.  So for an arcadey fun experience that has aged well since it’s release, Joe Danger SE gets a 4.5 out of 5 stars. For all you 360 owners or people who never played the original I’d say this is a fantastic product and 100% worth the price however people who own both a 360 and a PS3 who have already had a taste may want to hold out to see if the extras are released for the PSN before putting down the cash.

 

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