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Eurogamer Expo 2009 Hands-on: Joe Danger

Another year, another Eurogamer Expo to get excited about. The thing I love is how most of the crowd will sprint immediately for the main hall to have a go on all the latest games, leaving me and a select few others to prowl the indie arcade, where many developers stand alongside their product and are more than happy to answer questions. It’s where I spent most of last year’s London Expo, on the upper floor playing Machinarium and Multiwinia, and ear-wigging on the developer stands nearby.

This year’s persistence paid dividends; a quick waltz around the indie section and I encountered Hello Games, showcasing their high-speed Joe Danger to an initially dismissive but soon addicted audience. The fact that the stand had a steady crowd surrounding it for the entirety of the day is testament to how addictive Joe Danger can be.

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Decked out with a crash helmet and cape atop of a bright red jumpsuit, fearless Joe straddles a small motorbike and speeds through stages, hopping over and ducking under obstacles and flying off the end of ramps without complaint. We were treated to numerous “mini-game” stages designed to give a taster, but also sporting a leaderboard to add competitiveness, that increased in difficulty as your progressed.

Likened to Trials on Steam and the Xbox 360 Marketplace, you have to guide Joe past obstacles whilst trying to maintain enough speed to tackle ramps and to post a good time. The twist is that besides bunny-hopping over traffic ramps and ducking under hurdles and swinging mallets, there’s also barriers to the track. These can be swerved around by a simple flick of up or down on the left analogue stick, but later stages stack several barriers close to one another, which require an enormous amount of concentration.

Of course, you can’t have a game featuring a motorbike without getting some big air; littered throughout each section is a collection of ramps, all different lengths and gradients, and following these is a target to land on. Whilst in the air, players can perform tricks such as spinning backwards and forwards, or swinging off the handlebars, which fill up the motorbike’s boost meter, and landing towards the centre of the target nets you more points. The bike can be moved back and forth whilst airborne, which encourages outrageous speeds up each ramp as you can always slow down mid-air, but this affects your pace when landing.

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As mentioned, we played a variety of smaller stages which were lapped up by the crowd gathered around the screen, and the guys from Hello Games remarked that the normal sections were much longer, though it isn’t clear if there will be Trials-style checkpoints.

Talking to Hello Games afterwards, it still isn’t clear what platform the game will see light on. Whilst most likely Xbox 360 Marketplace and the PSN, the team didn’t rule out a release onto Steam or suchlike, but were hesitant with regards to the PC market;

“We’re not sure if our game would be looked at, given the hardcore nature of the PC market, but we’re not ruling it out either.”

Whatever the outcome, Joe Danger is full of charm and addictive gameplay and is certain to be a relative success. No release date or price have been confirmed as of yet, but rest assured to see a full review here at Thunderbolt Games when the time arises.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2002.

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