Joe Danger was a small breakaway PSN hit when it launched a year ago. Based on the idea of an Evel Kenevil style stuntman who performs tricks and stunts for showmanship and fun, its simple controls, friendly artwork and fun game design mean’t that almost anyone could pick up and play the game and enjoy it within minutes of playing. However for developer Hello Games this wasn’t enough. Joe Danger was never quite the game they originally wanted it to be, due to limited time and resources they had to compromise and come up with the Joe Danger that launched. Of course that Joe Danger was a brilliant game so surely if that wasn’t the game they set out to make, the game they intended to make was going to be one hell of a game. The thing is you don’t have to wonder any longer. Hello Games’ next project, Joe Danger: The Movie, is not just a sequel to Joe Danger but is instead the game they had always wanted to make.
We got a chance to sit down with the guys at Hello Games and get some real hands on time with their very early build of the game. First off for a game early in development the levels play well and so does the control scheme too. If you didn’t know it would be near impossible to tell that it wasn’t far into development yet. This is in part testament to the four strong team at Hello Games who managed to not only produce the original title to such a high standard but also create a level creation kit that is both simple an intuitive meaning that levels can be stitched together easily and effectively. And the level editor rears its head again in this iteration and allows players to have even more control over what they can do and change within levels.
So what does JDTM have to offer players that JD just couldn’t? Well to start with you no longer have just one vehicle. Now Joe can ride, drive and wear different modes of transportation, in the demo levels present at Gamescom five were available for testing and they were rather varied. You had a mine cart, a snowmobile as well as a cop bike but the most interesting additions were skis and a jetpack! The inclusion of different vehicles, and such a varied bunch, came from the team not wanting players to feel the game was getting bored and stale by repeating itself, so this was a fun way to vary the experience, plus it was what they had always intended from the original ideas for JD. Each vehicle has its own gameplay theme, as well as a film genre it pays homage too. The mine cart for instance is intended to play similar to a rollercoaster, gaining momentum as it continues and having the track littered with loop the loops and jumps to really up the speed and the pressure. Levels played with the Cop Bike follow that cop/action movie style of film, you chase down rival bikers whilst sweeping in and out of traffic, having to time lane changes correctly so to avoid the cars, or maybe instead you fancy collecting doughnuts or speeding to a scene of a crime; its clear that these ideas have a lot of potential and variation in them.
In terms of these various themes running about the place, Sean over at Hello Games ensured us that they all do link together to tell a story, things that you see in one level will appear in another later on and slowly all these different Joe characters will wind up coming together, however that is the idea, as we said earlier the game is still very early on in development and things are always bound to change along the way.
The guys have also made some changes to how the scoring system works in the game. Previously players could achieve some crazy high scores in a level and yet not meet the criteria for fully finishing a level, whereas someone who did finish the level fully would be lower down on the board despite technically having done more. Well now the stars you earn for finishing objectives count towards your final score, as well as staying in a combo for the entire level. This time those who managed to finish the level as intended can get the scores they deserve and the truly skilled can rise to the top. They also worked really hard on making sure that each vehicle could feel different yet be instantly familiar to any player, meaning that they could very quickly get the most out of it. Watching Grant, the games artist, play what looked like a rather confusing and difficult jetpack level with relative ease was just mindblowing and is a sure sign of the thought that has gone into JD:TM’s design.
Even though the game is probably a year away from being finished it is already putting on a strong showing on the showroom floor. If they continue on as intended then Joe Danger: The Movie will be a must have title for any self confessed gamer. This game deserves all the attention it gets and hopefully it will rise above and beyond is prequel’s cult status.
Joe Danger will be out by 2012 on a yet to be determined format. Stay with us for all the latest news on Hello Games new project. You can read the Q&A session we had with Sean Murray from Hello Games here.