Joe Danger made a splash on the Playstation network a few years ago, selling at least 100,000 copies and earning itself a sequel in 2012. Hello Games has now brought the character and his friends to iOS, using the strengths of the touchscreen to create a different but equally engaging game.
The Hello Games team says it was inspired by playing with an Evel Knievel stunt bike toy, and Joe Danger himself bears a strong resemblance to the canyon-jumping daredevil. Unlike Knievel, Danger only does his tricks on a series of racetracks, but the tracks are crazy platforming constructions worthy of Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario. You’ll find yourself collecting coins, looping loops, dodging spikes and even jumping sharks.
The iOS version is a little simpler than the Playstation game. Joe only goes in one direction, while you control his jumps and tricks with taps and swipes. You also tap the screen to collect flying coins and other objects in the game, such as letters that spell out ‘DANGER’ in some of the levels.
Check out my sweet moped.
Most of the time the controls work well. Joe jumps and ducks when you want him to, and he can do a surprising number of tricks with the swipes. (Each trick raises Joe’s combo meter and scores more points.) The only problem is when there’s a collectible object under your thumb when you tap to jump. Joe inevitably wipes out when you don’t jump as expected, and you have to restart the level. This happens often enough that it may have been intended as an additional challenge by the level designers, but it’s frustrating to find a comfortable grip on your tablet and then to have to change it in the middle of a level.
Fortunately, this problem doesn’t crop up until later in the game. The early levels of Joe Danger are almost sedate. The learning curve is so gentle that we began to wonder if there was something wrong. We were completing the objectives with ease, so why was our score so low?
Then we started playing with the tricks and combo system. It turns out that the early levels are easy, as long as you’re just riding. If you want a high score, though, you’d better be ready to pop wheelies and flip your bike all over the place. That’s a lot harder, especially once the levels start filling up with complicated sequences of obstacles.
We’ve fallen into a blueprint.
Joe Danger gets hard enough to test your patience by the end of the game. You’ll have to master precise series of jumps, double jumps, drops, and ducks just to finish the track, never mind collecting the bonuses or ramping up combos. You may find yourself playing a level twenty times before you get every little jump right, but it’s satisfying when you make it through.
Unfortunately, by the end of the game the levels get so complex that they may overload your device’s memory. Our first-generation iPad crashed repeatedly on the last few levels, but owners of more recent devices should have no trouble.
If you and your iPad can avoid wiping out, then Joe Danger is fast-paced, colorful, and as difficult as you want to make it. It delivers all the fun of jumping schoolbuses and none of the broken bones, and even Evel Knievel would approve of that.