At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date
Matt Bailey Xbox 360 Hello Games Hello Games 1-4 (Share screen) 14th September 2012

Joe Danger 2: The Movie preview

The problem with big shows like E3 and Gamescom is that they are dominated by the big players. In Cologne the stands from mega-publishers EA and Activision Blizzard stretch from the floor to the very high ceiling of Trade Hall 6. Independent developers, meanwhile, might need to rely on a local German distributor or something like Valve's Steam showcase in order for their games to make an appearance.

Punch for Justice!

Punch for Justice!

Not so British indie Hello Games, creator of successful and fondly-received Joe Danger, who for the past two years have made a presence on the show floor by driving all the different parts of their booth, from the banners to the TVs to the PCs, all the way from their base in Guildford, Surrey. Last year it was the first public outing for Joe Danger: The Movie (which has since gained a '2' to avoid confusion), while the game was rather polished last year, it was a limited selection of levels, so this time the game got a fuller airing, complete with German localisation.

Joe Danger was a side-scrolling 3D stunt bike game, immediately drawing comparisons with RedLynx's Trials series, but that comparison is dismissed once you're actually playing, with an emphasis on objectives and crazy combos. In fact, the comparison is dismissed before then thanks to Joe Danger's more colourful visual style that certainly makes all the trial and error feel less painful. The sequel moves even further away, as Joe has moved on from being a washed-up former stuntman, as he puts together the ultimate action movie. As a result, there's a whole host of vehicles this time around, including unicycles, jetpacks and "Indiana Jones"-style mine-carts.

Everyone loves jetpacks

Everyone loves jetpacks

The variety should make even those who have played the original to death excited about Joe Danger 2, with Hello Games offering a unique feel to each travel option, and the overall aim of putting together the movie provides an extra drive to complete levels. The 4-player multiplayer, however, is what drew in the crowds at Gamescom. This was particularly true this year as the game now featured German controls and menu options, so passers-by not fluent in English could pick up and play, including young players. One boy seemed to be glued to the game, with one of the developers pointing out he had been back to the booth every day, much to the chagrin of a tired father.

It's impressive how the British studio managed to draw people into their booth, despite being located next to Sony's offering with lots of big names. However, after a few minutes of playing it's easy to see why they stick around on the developer's own sofas for just one more go. It's fast, fun and wonderfully silly, but with mechanics that warrant care and attention in order to gain the highest scores. It isn't a drastic departure from the original, but that's a good thing, and the expansion of multiplayer and the variety of vehicles make it feel like a distinct experience you should keep an eye out for when it comes out on the 14th September on the Xbox Live Arcade.

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