Oftentimes when studios bring their popular console titles to mobile platforms, they are either ports with screen-covering virtual controls or (even worse) a lackluster minigame that hardly resembles (never mind even remotely plays like) the original.
For the uninitiated, Joe Danger is a cartoony level-based stunt motorcycle racing/trick game of which there have been two titles released on the consoles. Each of the game’s 50+ levels consists of a track, along which are a series of ramps, tunnels, sharks and various other obstacles which you must jump, duck and otherwise avoid while accomplishing three goals, doing tricks and just safely crossing the finish line. Those familiar with Joe Danger will recognize the gold medal goals which can consist of timing all of the jumps/ducks perfectly, collecting the letters D-A-N-G-E-R, nabbing all of the coins or merely completing the course.
When I first played a few levels of this game last April at PAX East 2012, I would have guessed that it was finished, it looked and played great. Now here we are over 9 months later and the amount of hard work and polish that went into creating this game is evident throughout, from the smooth 60fps frame rate and intuitive touch controls, to the dead-on physics engine, Game Center integration and Joe Danger’s unique brand of humor, this game looks and plays just as well as if were playing on your home console.
The thoughtfulness and attention to every minute aspect of the gameplay is commendable. One small example of this is in the way that they’ve implemented the Game Center Challenge system. For each of the three goals that you accomplish in a level, you earn a gold medal. If you earn three gold medals in a single run, you earn a Pro Medal and you have the opportunity to challenge your Game Center friends to do the same, whether or not they’ve actually unlocked that level in the game yet. While the challenge fuels competition, it also fosters a sense of camaraderie as you can help your friends access later levels in the game.
The game features a number of unlockable characters which are purchased using the game’s coin currency system. While they are optional, certain characters must be unlocked along the way in order to be allowed to play particular levels. Each character has unique specs which give it extra points, extra coins or a higher max combo value. Hello Games discourages the use of real money for IAPs, but they did include a means for purchasing in-game coins with hard cash. However, they insist this is really only for the lazy as everything in the game can be earned without spending any additional money beyond the purchase price. The flow of free coins (earned during play, whether or not you complete the track) seems pretty liberal to me, so I fail to see a reason why any would feel the need to spend their real money on these.
For $2.99 Hello Games claims that you are getting over 20+ hours of gameplay and I’d say they are low-balling that number as there is a HUGE amount of replay value here. You will find yourself playing and replaying levels over and over again, for a multitude of reasons. First you’ll be trying to increase your score by doing more tricks or using a different character that potentially offers more bonus points so that you can climb the global leaderboards. Or you may be trying to earn achievements or the Pro Medal for each level by accomplishing all three of a level’s goals in a single run.
The touch controls feel very natural and never once did I feel like my hands were obstructing my view. Players tap on the screen to jump, hold down to duck and the remainder of the actions are performed using swiping motions. In fact, if anything the game felt more immersive than it’s console cousins. While the levels do start out easy, the difficulty ramps up fairly quickly from there with even the medium level challenges offering some nice competition, requiring a keen eye, fast reflexes, memorization good multitasking skills and a little luck as you try to navigate with one hand jumps while popping coin-filled balloons with the other.
The only gripe I have regarding the controls is that it is difficult to chain multiple tricks together. To do a forward or backward spin, you swipe your finger to the right or left on then screen. However, I’m not exactly sure what it is, but there seems to be a noticeable of delay between swipes, making it difficult to pull off multiple mid-air tricks. This hasn’t had an impact on my ability to complete levels, just my potential score, which can be a little frustrating. I’m hoping that this will be resolved or mitigated in a future update.
While the his name is the same and he looks the same, this Joe Danger is freshly hatched for iOS. I own both of the XBLA Joe Danger titles and I have to say that this is just as fun as any previous title in the series and perhaps even a bit more challenging. There have been a few Joe Danger-ish games that have beat this title to market, but for me they failed to capture the fun of real deal. Accept no substitutes. Joe Danger Touch is one of the best $3 bargains you’ll find on the App Store, I highly recommend picking up this game!