Joe Danger 2: The Movie
Following Joe’s return to glory in the first game, he evidently gained some favor from a famous Hollywood director. In this sequel, he has left his role as a stuntman – in some undisclosed desert location – to become a realstuntman in the movies. What drove him there is unknown to us. Perhaps he simply got bored – like me – of jumping over the same platforms time and again. Even video game characters need some variety.
“Although the story is not told through slides or voiceovers, there’s a strong feeling of progression”Joe Danger 2 is in every regard how a sequel should be. It’s more polished and simply feels bigger, even though there are fewer tracks in this one. It also feels like Hello Games have been fortunate enough to have a bigger budget this time, as they’ve hired a voice actor to act as the director, who spouts orders at Joe while filming a scene. It has also expanded to different environments, so it now ranges from a snowy mountainside to a busy cityscape – with plenty others in between.
In conjunction, this creates a context that the first one lacked. Although the story is not told through slides or voiceovers, there’s a strong feeling of progression – and in a different way than simply making the tracks more difficult the further on you are. The main campaign is divided into scenes, so you’ll have one part that’s strongly inspired by for instance Indiana Jones or James Bond movies, complete with similar music and plotlines. In spite of this, the main narrative loses its focus as you progress, mixing the genres together. It would have worked better if they’d just stuck to keeping one set of scenes entirely focused on a tribute to one particular movie series.
Another strong point of the movie scene setup is that each scene now has a unique goal. Being focused on action movies, there’s naturally a bunch of chase sequences, where Joe has to survive getting attacked by robots or try to catch Team Nasty before they slip away. While the drudgery of collecting stars and such is still in place, these new goals make it easier to differentiate between tracks.
The increased variety also extends to the vehicles Joe has at his disposal. In the first one, all he had was his trusty motorcycle, but now he also has access to jetpacks and skis, for example. It might not sound like something particularly important, but it vastly extends the appeal of the campaign, since they slightly alter the way you play. Especially the jetpack which adds a whole new dimension to how you navigate the tracks.
“It also has more of those random moments which made the first more endurable, despite its frequent monotony.”Some things, though, feel out of place out here. For example, why does Joe still have to do those little stunts while he’s in the air? Why does he still have to go through with collecting stars and other objects? He has a scene to shoot! He can’t just run off and do whatever he likes. It’s not a major issue, but it does make it feel more like a reskinned version of the first game, rather than a complete reimagining of it. If Hello Games had developed the game around the movie aspect, they could have ended with a final product that dared to experiment a bit more.
It also has more of those random moments which made the first more endurable, despite its frequent monotony. For example at one point Joe has to drive through a pre-historic environment, hunting cymbal monkeys on motorbikes, or when he turns into a paper boy who throws explosive newspapers at Team Nasty. They don’t really add any new concepts to the game, but they’re nice tidbits in between the more traditional gameplay.
Besides the main campaign, the game also has something called “Deleted Scenes”, which are essentially stand-alone tracks, that are significantly harder than the main tracks. Since the main campaign is quite short compared to the first game, it’s certainly something that adds longevity.
Sadly, Hello Games have again omitted online multiplayer. It’s a shame because the multiplayer is no longer splitscreen, and now allows for four players simultaneously, so it’s ideal for playing online. A huge, presumably enjoyable aspect of the game is lost if you do not have 1-3 friends who also own the game, so it feels like you’re being cheated out of a mode that shouldn’t be that hard to implement in the game once you’ve already set up local multiplayer.
Overall,Joe Danger 2 feels more coherent and varied than its predecessor. Where the first seemed like a loosely connected set of tracks, this one found the identity the previous game lacked. It’s as immediately fun too, and rarely feels like a chore, although the collection-based objectives remain. It has expanded upon the inherent silliness of the premise, and crafted a highly enjoyable game around it.