Joe Danger 2: The Movie review for XBLA, PSN

Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Also On: PSN
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Hello Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

After the sleeper hit success of independent developer Hello Games? first effort, Joe Danger, Joe is back, but is taking his stunt skills to the set of faux Hollywood and the movies. Now that Joe has his groove back he is ready to put his talents to good use, and what?s more, show off his diversity beyond just being a stunt man with motorbikes. Now Joe is pulling out all the stops with snowmobiles, skis, jet packs, and even mine carts. Joe Danger is no longer just excitebike for the next generation, now it is more of a platformer than ever before, and while some of the new vehicles take a little effort to get used to, it?s good to see that the developers wanted to shed the skin of all the Trials comparisons and have truly created a game that is very unique.

Where Joe Danger 2 finds its own niche without abandoning what drew fans to the first game is using familiar game play, but adding enough changes throughout that it never feels like a DLC course add on. Also, for the 15 bucks you spend, you get an insane amount of content that will keep you playing for hours not only trying to see and unlock all the game has to offer, but trying to outdo your friends? leaderboards scores as well. This all goes without even mentioning the online play, that while is tacked on for the competitive types, still offers enough excitement to draw gamers into that mode alone.

Joe Danger 2?s charm comes from the homages of various movies and genres, from James Bond to Indiana Jones, that not only come in the form of knockoff soundtracks, but also in some of the fake names that are close to famous film titles. The whole movie atmosphere is brought to you by a director who calls the shots and as Joe Danger you must do as he says to make the movie the best it can be, and of course avoid imminent peril. As with the first game you have more than one way to earn stars coming from various objectives like collecting D-A-N-G-E-R, finding hidden stars, completing the level in a certain time frame, and much much more. The stars are important as you need them to unlock levels that will allow you to progress further into the game.

This ?Movie? mode is very deep, involving, and challenging to boot, without really ever getting to that ?throw your controller? level of frustration as games like Trials HD have been prone to do. Controls are just as friendly, pick up and play, and fun as they ever were, albeit with a bit more challenge tossed in for good measure. I was skeptical of some of the vehicles, but like anything that is undiscovered territory, once you hang with it long enough it feels like second nature. This along with friendly enough checkpoints that if you do fail to complete a jump or dodge, you won?t feel any urgency to fly off the handle as your journey back to the last checkpoints are generally fair and reasonable. With this friendly style of game play, it will keep you coming back more and more to outdo those competitive scores your buddies keep putting up.

Included in JD2 is a very deep level creator and level sharing tools so that you can see if you can take the tools of the trade from Hello Games and out do what the best of the best do so well. You also have the aforementioned 4 player multiplayer mode that is a blast to play with little to no lag which makes each race hotly contested. If this wasn?t enough you have a mode called ?Deleted Scenes? that take the best ideas you find throughout the single player story mode and not only increases their difficulty, but will put you into vehicles that heighten the challenge even more. While these levels never ?made the cut? they are certainly the most demanding and geared for the hardcore fans for sure.

The game?s visual and audio have not taken any drastic changes other than costumes, backdrops, and music selection per track. Hello Games have kept to their guns of what made Joe Danger an instant hit, and fans will certainly welcome it with open arms as this is the closest thing to a title made by ?The Big N? without having to have a Wii or DS to play them. (This is a good thing for all you haters out there)

While Joe Danger 2: The Movie does offer so much to fans of the first game, they had the hindsight not to fix what wasn?t broken. They are a team that does a ton right and little wrong and I for one can?t wait see what they have up their sleeves outside the world of Joe Danger. If you were a fan of the first, Joe Danger 2: The Movie not only gives you more of what you loved before, but also enough variety to make you feel like you are playing this series for the very first time. It is easily one of the best downloadable games to come out this year, and more than worth the price of admission.

Grade: A-