Joe Danger • Page 2

Danger nous.

Grant Duncan elaborates. "Some of the levels are more platformy than others," he says. "A lot of the stadium levels are just about blazing through and getting high scores and doing tricks, whereas some of these you need to know your way around."

Initially, of course, that variety is compartmentalised for your pleasure, with easy levels that tutor you while you play, each representing its own specific challenge - a coin dash here, a boss race there. Later levels start to combine the disciplines until the variety of challenges is rich and unpredictable from task to task, and there will be finely tuned targets for everything from the lowliest tutorial upwards.

There are constants, of course. One is the instant-restart button. It's one of the game's most important controls once you start eyeing up those goals, allowing you to zone in on its charms without interruption and turning the old "one more go" cliché on its head. Games like Trials HD and Joe Danger aren't about whether you choose to have another go; another go has already begun, so they're about whether you choose to stop.

Another constant is your short-term and muscle memories, which shoulder a heavier burden than usual. A lot of levels demand a good working knowledge of their perils and personalities, but you also need to remember quite a few controls - moving back and forward, leaning in the saddle, moving in and out of the screen at junctions, hopping, double-hopping, crouching, and performing tricks in midair, which contribute to your boost bar... which is controlled with another button.

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I've worked on games websites for over a decade and not enough games are happy and colourful. This one is. More of this, please, everyone.

While the game's language barrier may be thicker than some, though, it's an exciting dialect to master, and it looks and sounds great when your thumbs are fluent. There are also retro references galore to go with the 21st century 16-bit aesthetic - Mario switch-palace coin-dash start buttons, Tony Hawk letter-collection, green hills and more blue skies than you can shake a hedgehog at.

Hello Games has just announced plans to bring Joe Danger to PS3, and the chaps are inevitably a bit worried about the reaction on the internet now that Xbox 360 doesn't figure, even though they were open from the start about the likelihood of its appearing on "one of" PC, PSN and XBLA.

From our conversations though, you sense that for such a small team the absence of a 360 version is more to do with their need to focus on one project than any kind of partiality. Over lunch we talk about their worry that people will kick them to bits on comment threads for having to pick one lane and stick to it. So please don't kick them to bits on the comments thread.

One thing the platform announcement does mean, of course, is that it will be more tempting than ever to compare Joe Danger to Trials HD. "2D bikes! But on PS3!" To do so though would be slightly erroneous. There are flashes of Trials in here, but there are also vast, 40-foot searchlights of Sonic the Hedgehog, Tony Hawk and definitely Sidhe Interactive's lovely and under-loved GripShift.

If Joe Danger inhabits the same genre as last year's Xbox Live stunner from RedLynx, that's because between them their contemporaries have made sure that the instant-restart racing platformer is now a regular and brilliant fixture on the gaming calendar - something that it's now hard to deny and something that, on the evidence so far, Joe Danger should only reinforce.

Joe Danger is due out for PS3 in spring 2010.

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