PAX East 2010 Hands On: Joe Danger
Indie games are out in force at PAX East 2010, with upcoming PSN release Joe Danger possibly the deepest experience of them all.
There is a specific set of videogames out there that might not be in a particular genre, but are represented by mechanics that make them fun to play over and over to try for a better score or for a perfect level run. Some that spring to mind are Trials HD and Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Hello Games' Joe Danger, on display at PAX East 2010 this weekend, is set to introduce a new addition to this group that, from my demo, was surprisingly deeper than I expected.
All I previously knew of Joe Danger was from trailers and screenshots, showing it to be an experience similar to Excitebike, but starring a stuntman that was tasked to also collect items and tackle all kinds of crazy obstacles. What I learned at PAX East was that Hello Games is putting an untold amount of depth in the game through many, many modes and by constantly experimenting with its own level editor, which will also ship with the game at launch.
Thankfully, Joe Danger appears to have a very helpful tutorial system to introduce players to the game's mechanics. Controls are simple, as players move Joe back and forth on his motorcycle in the air, switch lanes, boost off ramps, duck under or jump over obstacles, and perform wheelies, flips, and mid-air tricks. The mechanics lend themselves to the game's multiple modes. Some are simpler, such as a race mode that pits Joe against a bunch of Joe-wannabes. Others task Joe to collect coins on a path in a set amount of time or to dash through a level while accurately landing on cleverly placed targets. Another mode makes the game into more of a platformer, having players collect the various objects on a level, such as hidden stars or the letters that form "DANGER."
When I mentioned the game's similarity to Trials HD, Hello Games agreed that it certainly is there, but emphasized that Joe Danger is being developed with more of an atmosphere of fun rather than crushing difficulty. The studio of four want players to constantly have smiles on their faces, and I certainly did the entire time I was playing, even as I destroyed my bike in mousetrap after mousetrap or punctured my tires on a variety of spike strips.
Joe Danger's depth comes in due to the fact that every level, even tutorial levels, can be tricked the entire way through, and also attempted for a best time. High-score fiends like myself would likely find these "meta-games" the most entertaining part of Joe Danger, in addition to multiple mini-achievements that every level has as well. I know that people liked Trials HD, and I'm relatively sure people also like fun. Joe Danger brings both together, so it's likely a title worth looking at when it comes to the PlayStation Network in Spring 2010.