Also On: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Publisher: Hello Games
Developer: Hello Games
I feel like I should like Joe Danger 2: The Movie a lot more than I do. After all, there’s nothing particularly bad about it. In fact, it has more than its fair share of positives, all stemming from the fact it doesn’t feel like Hello Games had to make any sacrifices to move their game from home consoles to the Vita. The controls are pretty easy to figure out, and they’re every bit as responsive as they should be. It looks fantastic, even on the smaller screen. It’s got a fun, simple narrative (a stuntman is making a movie!) that doesn’t require any knowledge whatsoever of the series’ first game. Taken on its own, it’s about as unobjectionable as you can get.
The more I think about it, though, I think that’s the key phrase: taking the game on its own. Because, obviously, that’s an impossible thing to do; Joe Danger 2 doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists in a world where there was a Joe Danger 1 (minus the “1”. of course). And what’s more, there’s not a huge world of difference between the two games. There may be slight improvements here and there — multiplayer was added, along with a bit more of a story — but for the most part, what you did there is what you’re doing here. That’s not necessarily a problem, mind you, since the first game was a lot of fun and it’s great to play more of it…but it makes it difficult to get really, really excited for it.
Not only that, there’s a world beyond Joe Danger to consider, too. There are plenty of games that occupy a not-entirely-dissimilar space: the Trials series, Urban Trial Freestyle, Motorbike, and all kinds of physics-based mobile racers. Expand the whole stunt/trick racing out a little more, and you could probably include games like OlliOlli, too. While they may not all be worth playing, I think it’s safe to say that Joe Danger 2 no longer has its niche entirely to itself anymore.
Admittedly, that’s a somewhat unfair way of judging the game. After all, it deserves to be considered on its own merits, rather than on how well other games have aped its gameplay. Even if you don’t want to do that, then you at least have to consider how well Joe Danger 2 presents itself compared to other games in the genre. And if you look at it that way, it’s hard to deny that this is a game worth checking out. The controls may have been imitated by they’ve rarely been duplicated, and they’re topped off by visuals that are second-to-none. It may be harder to appreciate now than it was when it first came out a couple of years ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything less than outstanding.