Danger is his last name

The original Joe Danger struck a chord with audiences everywhere by giving us the simple yet fun premise of being a motorcycle stuntman in the vein of Evel Knievel, making sure the control sensitivity was cranked to maximum, and throwing in a first-class level creator that you could share with your friends. Now Joe is back and looking to see if he can strike that same chord again in Joe Danger 2: The Movie.

In order to pump a little depth into the franchise, Joe Danger 2 actually has a story this time around. After another day of jumping buses and doing Superman poses on his bike in mid-air, Joe is approached by a huge Hollywood director who wants him to handle the stunts in all of his big budget action films. Knowing this could be the break he’s always dreamed of, Joe’s more than happy to jump on board. And thus our game begins!

Because of this movie shoot setting, many of the story chapters are themed around motifs borrowed from classic action films. From escaping a megalomaniac’s mountain fortress James Bond style to riding a rickety mine cart like Indiana Jones to being attacked by dinosaurs a la Jurassic Park, Joe Danger 2 offers a lot more variety and challenge than in the previous title, as Joe now has objectives that tie directly into these movies.

As a result, Joe isn’t always on his trusted motorcycle, and one thing that Joe Danger 2 fails at is making sure you’re aware that mine carts, skis, snowmobiles, jet packs, and all the other new vehicles Joe pilots handle just like his motorcycle. You’ll eventually figure it out, but newcomers to the series may feel the first few chapters are far too simple, at least before they start to finally explore the stunt and high score potential of each board and just what it means to truly beat a level in Joe Danger 2. This gives the game some of its “hidden depth,” as developer Hello Games likes to put it, but I would rather my depth be a bit more obvious right off the bat.

Unfortunately, once you do start to realize the extent to which Joe’s abilities as a stuntman can be pushed, the game’s difficulty makes an extreme jump (ramp not included). Joe goes from being able to maneuver through most areas of the main story with ease, to being thrown into the Deleted Scenes, which see Joe sent through a series of grueling courses in the worst vehicles possible—like the dreaded unicycle. Not only must you avoid the dozens of obstacles in Joe’s path, you must also constantly try to maintain balance on the infernal one-wheel machine. And should you lose said balance—even if you avoid an obstacle in the process—you have to start over at the beginning of the level or one of the randomly scattered checkpoints some venues have.

That isn’t to say Joe Danger 2: The Movie isn’t fun. The humor of the story, the unique mission objectives, and the core controls from the first game still make this a worthwhile downloadable experience. It just seems that Hello Games was thinking more about the audience who would be coming back for more instead of those who might be playing as Joe for the very first time. But whether a noob or a wily Joe Danger veteran, one thing everyone should get behind is the online sharing and multiplayer functions. Online leaderboards for time and high scores with your friends on each level are just the tip of the iceberg.

Joe Danger 2 features a fun and frantic 4-player versus race mode, as well as a ghost replay feature for both the single-player and versus levels. The most addictive part of the online features, though, is the returning level creator. With whole new set pieces to build your levels with, Joe Danger 2’s level editor is just as technically good as the first, and with global online sharing capabilities, it should only be a matter of time before we start seeing some truly insane courses that might make the Deleted Scenes look like tutorial levels.

All in all, Joe Danger 2: The Movie should please many fans of the first and has enough depth to keep you playing this game until you start to develop some real-life helmet hair. Newcomers should be warned, though, as they’re in for a steep learning curve. Only through patience will they be able to overcome the insane challenges the folks at Hello Games have laid out for gamers this time around.

SUMMARY: Some new movie-based motifs added nice variety to the levels, but an unusually steep difficulty curve had a part of me pining for the original. Still, if you love Joe Danger, this new chapter is more than worthy of a look.

  • THE GOOD: More gameplay variety combined with a top-notch level builder
  • THE BAD: Difficulty ramps up way too quickly
  • THE UGLY: …I’m scared of unicycles

SCORE: 8.0

Joe Danger 2: The Movie is an XBLA (Xbox 360) exclusive.