It saddens me that I never got a chance to play the original Joe Danger when it came out in June 2010 on Playstation 3, and it’s always been with me as one of those great gaming regrets – the game had tons of potential. It looked bright, colourful, accessible and most of all – fun, whereas for the Xbox 360 we had our own entry already ensconced in the Xbox Live Arcade – we had Trials HD!

Trials HD was challenging, rewarding, and more than a little bit addictive, so using that as a benchmark for my expectations, I had high hopes for Hello Games’ Xbox 360 Exclusive – Joe Danger: Special Edition.

Joe Danger Special Edition Screen 1
Joe Danger: SE follows the same guidelines of both its predecessor on the PS3 and Trials HD but veers sharply away from the Trials ethos when it comes to the fun factor. Whilst playing Trials HD I was not having what I could happily call ‘fun’ I was playing the game purely to ‘beat’ the level – in every sense – the same way I play Super Meat Boy. Oh sure I’m enjoying myself and I categorise it as ‘gaming’ but I’m more proving something to both myself and the cloud of 1’s and 0’s that I’m battling against rather than switching off my brain and simply coasting through the game. Joe Danger on the other hand, offers up all of the aspects of the action-stunt-racer genre (now there are at least two games that meet this criteria, I guess we have to make it a new genre) whilst maintaining the fun element with its wacky graphics, bold colours, and zany gameplay.

And moving onto gameplay for a moment, I’m surprised how easily and intuitively I picked up the controls for Joe Danger. Now don’t get me wrong, I consider myself pretty average at video games and can master most control systems fairly easily, but usually there is always that element of confusion if you need to perform too many actions at once – like the old Tony Hawk games, where it was always a challenge to ride, jump, rotate, pull off two tricks and then line myself up for the landing without digging my digital teeth out of the ramp.

Joe Danger Special Edition Screen 2
Fortunately with Joe Danger, there was very little broken teeth – digital or otherwise – as the combination of making the jump, boosting, rotating, pulling off the trick and then landing all seemed to blend together beautifully.

Joe Danger: SE features 50+ levels to plow through where you take Joe on his great comeback tour. These levels include tutorial levels, general stunt levels and also races – where you must ensure you finish the level in first place whilst continuing your daredevil antics throughout. Also featuring in Dangers repertoire of maps are the brand new ‘The Lab’ levels which feature drastically shorter but more challenging maps. These provided a great change of pace from the usual ‘fast-as-possible-many-tricks-as-possible’ style I had adopted through the main campaign.

Joe Danger Special Edition Screen 3
Joe Danger really shines through with its additional gameplay elements however – your boost/nitro bar charges up when you successfully pull off a stunt (even if this entails a really long wheelie) so it encourages you, in the final stretch of a race, to pull off one last big trick to help you boost your way past the competition.

You’ll also be unable to resist going back through the previous levels in Joe Danger to collect the specific level awards – having to pick up all the collectable stars or D.A.N.G.E.R letters within a level and sometimes within a certain time limit makes for very compelling gameplay. Coupling this with the Pro Medals which usually asks you to complete all of the previous challenges in one single playthrough really triggers that addictive element in gamers that compel us to keep going back to a game. Joe Danger: Special Edition is a wonderfully crafted game that is bound to become an XBLA must have.

Joe Danger Special Edition Box Art
Title : Joe Danger: Special Edition
Format : Xbox LIVE Arcade
Developer : Hello Games
Publisher : Microsoft Studios
Release Date : 12/14/11

[starreviewmulti id=1 tpl=20]

*Hello Games provided with a promo code for a review copy.