One of the nicest things that happened last year was that Joe Danger was really successful. Built by four guys in a room in Guildford after they quit their studio jobs to make something they would want to play, it was a cartoon stunt bike game inspired by Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and Sonic the Hedgehog, and beneath its breezy, cheerful exterior thumped the heart of a wonderful high-scores game. We gave it an 8/10 and said, "If you like collecting things, going fast, beating times, posting scores... If you like video games, basically, you ought to like this."
Joe Danger: The Movie, which may yet end up on multiple formats (the original was a PSN exclusive largely because Sony was the friendliest option for developer Hello Games), finds tubby stuntman Joe on the set of a new film.
"The idea is that Joe's making a film," Hello MD Sean Murray tells Eurogamer. "It's one big film that you're making, and you're recording scenes from it. You record them out of sequence, but when you see them played back they start to make sense, and you start to see things that give away what's going on in the overall movie."
The film's mysterious director also plays an active role in the game after approaching Joe in the intro movie to offer him the job.
"We've yet to make that cut-scene, but it's in our heads. If only you could see it in our heads - it's Pixar quality!" says an ever-breathless Murray. "He finds Joe and pitches this idea of the greatest film that's ever been made, because it's going to have everything."
We ask if this means Joe has found fame and fortune and Murray looks skeptical. "He's still got a bit of a gut and looks a little out of place," he says doubtfully.
What it does mean is that Joe gets to drive more than just his trademark stuntbike. Depending on the scene you're recording, you could end up on a police motorcycle, in a mine cart, racing downhill on skis or even driving a tank. We don't get to see the tank (or the robot suits, or some of the other contraptions on the promo poster released prior to Gamescom), but we do get to play with a few.
"We have a load of vehicles we're not showing, but these are the ones that roughly work, and that we're happy with," Murray explains. "Ish."
Most of the original game's fundamentals are still in place. It's still about moving left to right on a 2D plane, occasionally moving in or out of the screen at set junctions, collecting coins and D-A-N-G-E-R letters, and performing stunts using combinations of midair rotations and bumper-button grabs. The idea is to get to the end but also to build a high-score combo as you go.
With the addition of the film director in the background barking into a megaphone, you also need to do things related to the story of the film. As the motorcycle cop, for example, you have to bash a series of robbers off their bikes, Road Rash style.