The Man Without Fear

Whenever there is an accident, our voyeuristic nature has it so that we can’t help but want to look at it and even if we turn away, we often look back just to make sure we saw what we thought we saw the first time. Couple this with the spectacle of someone willingly putting themselves in harm’s way and many people can’t help but be attracted to watching daredevils perform their death defying stunts. It is why even though he didn’t perform for years before his passing in 2007, guys like Evel Knievel were still often part of the popular vernacular for the stunts they pulled in the 60s and 70s.

Inspired by those great stuntmen, we have Joe Danger, another forgotten legend that could jump buses, shark tanks, and canyons with the best of them. Well, Joe wants to come out of retirement and prove to the world he’s still got it and unlike many of those real-life daredevils, any accidents that Joe may have can be fixed with a simple press of the reset button (which will likely occur often).

Joe Danger: Special Edition is an interesting game in that it combines a pair of gaming genres rarely seen working in conjunction with one another: platforming and racing. In the Career Mode, you take Joe over several dozen courses littered with stuntmen staples like jump ramps and shark tanks and a bevy of items that look like they were taken from a Sega yard sale with Sonic the Hedgehog style loop de loops and spring bumpers. When you put these all onto one track, you’ll have the time of your life performing Superman handlebar stunts and wheelies while trying to clear these ridiculous courses, re-establish Joe as an entertainer for the ages, and even take down his rival stuntmen in Team Nasty. And you’ll do all this while trying to earn points and collect items to unlock more and more tracks to prove Joe’s dominance.

This item collection, and the control with which you can control your bike in mid-air, gives these rather linear racing levels some platforming traits and introduces a strong dose of replayability as it will likely require you multiple playthroughs on many of the levels to collect all the items or beat the time to win the race as it is near-impossible to do both on a single run. Of course, having to play multiple levels over and over again could become tedious and frustrating for all but the most die-hard of completionists and may start to feel like a chore during long game sessions.

But there is so much more to this “Special Edition” compared to the version that was released last year for PSN. First off, the DLC that was added to the original game later on like an online versus mode and the ability to upload custom designed levels to share with friends now comes standard with this version of the game. There are also a series of special “laboratory” levels where the game’s designers added some extra wacky challenges to courses they specially designed for the Special Edition for XBLA to really push your platforming and racing skills to the test should the career mode or level creator begin to bore you.

At the end of the day, Joe Danger: Special Edition is a very solid game with great physics, easy to pick up and play controls, and more than enough levels and collectibles to really drive those hardcore completionists up a wall. The only major knock on the game is that it does become tedious if you play it for long stretches and the challenge of trying to collect all the items in a level begins to feel forced onto you as your progress later and later into the game. But if you have an extra 1200 MSP lying around, this game is definitely worth a test drive for its uniqueness alone.

SUMMARY: A unique blending of genres and interesting new modes added to the XBLA version make this a solid buy, even if the luster wears off quickly.

  • THE GOOD: A unique blending of genres makes for an entertaining experience
  • THE BAD: Repetitive obstacles and challenges can make the game feel like a chore at times
  • THE UGLY: How you look after falling into the shark tank

SCORE: 8.0