My name’s Iain, and I’m a Dangerholic. My problem started 3 years ago when I tried to get a little guy on a bike across a few courses without getting eaten by sharks, blown up or just falling on my head. The problem was made worse by peer pressure, friends of mine who also had the same addiction pushing me on to try and be better than them, to beat their scores with just one more go.
That was then. I thought I’d managed to escape my addiction, I thought I was out of the constant loop of pushing the boundaries of combo building, try ever more complex and daring tricks, trying to hook in that one extra backflip. Spending an hour on a single course just to get a few extra thousand and nudge a friend off the top of the leaderboards.
This is now. My addiction has returned with a vengence. Joe Danger has stolen my spare time again.
The problem isn’t with the quirky visuals, which are amazingly colourful but sometimes so manic it makes it almost impossible to know what’s going on unless you’re playing. It’s not even with the funky tunes which are every bit as catchy as last time round and get lodged in your head, spinning round and round while you’re trying to get to sleep. The problem is that Joe Danger 2 is one of the most deceptively deep and challenging games you could lay your hands on. If you could sit down and play it through in a few hours then there wouldn’t be a risk of addiction, but that’s not the case. Achieving 100% success in every level will take somewhere in the region of 20 hours, and then there’s a whole bucket of extra stuff to keep you hooked in.
As well as using a bike I found myself using a jetpack, skidoo, a pair of skis and BMX, and that’s just for starters. By taking the themes from films like Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park there’s not only a whole new charm to suck you in but also an excuse for a massive variety in the levels in terms of layout and design. There are loads of objectives to meet too, and just as I thought I’d nailed a level and could move on I’d notice that I hadn’t collected all of the stars, or hadn’t quite made the time target. I’d need to do it again, trying with all my will to earn that Pro badge which would unlock some other goodies elsewhere.
Ah yes, I suspect my addiction will be more understood if I were to tell you about other things that have kept me in the game. The track designer is more like an experience designer, giving you the chance to create your own story and set out some brilliantly fiendish challenges to send to your friends. It’s not quite LittleBigPlanet, but it’s a very fun way to spend a few hours. As well as that, a whole new addition to Joe Danger 2 is the Deleted Scenes, a collection of additional levels that the developers chose not to include in the final story. There are some crazy challenges that took up almost as much of my time as the main levels. Again, there are the challenges of getting the highest score you can manage while hitting other objectives and, in some cases, keeping your balance on a unicycle. Really.
There are a couple of things that gave me reason to think that my addiction could be cured… The game is definitely at its best with other friends setting some high scores for you, giving some far more personal battles than aiming high in the global rankings. There’s also a huge difficulty spike midway through which will test the patience of many players hoping to succeed later in the game. But by that point I found myself in so deep I was desperate to complete the levels, no matter how many times I had to hit Select to start again from the beginning. And the feeling I had when one of those near-impossible levels was met with a quick time, 100% combo and top 5 global score? A satisfaction rarely found in a video game.
There’s far more to Joe Danger 2 to than its predecessor, not only in content but also the challenge in using multiple vehicles which all work slightly differently when trying to do tricks and stunts. But that just makes it all easier to get engrossed by and before long you, as I did, will be shouting, screaming and swearing at the TV, quickly followed by that “just one more try…” that shows that your own addiction has sunk its teeth in and won’t be letting go for a while.
It’s the ideal mix of infuriating and masterful, and all adds up to being utterly delightful. That’s why I’m here today, telling you my story. My name’s Iain, and I’m a Dangerholic.
Reviewed on PS3