It's quickly revealed that Joe's bike is the least physically realistic two-wheeled beast since Street Hawk, and even while in the air he can accelerate, break and even double-jump, making the game into something far more like a platformer than anything else. "We're really inspired by Super Monkey Ball, and the sick player videos that people released around that time. We want to give players all the tools to do incredible things," says Murray.
By this point, the trending topic in your brain's Twitter feed will no doubt be #gameslikeTrials - but Joe Danger is definitely the Excitebike to Trials HD's Kickstart. While it has that 'one more go' factor, it's much less about endless self-flagellating restarts and more about having fun. "You're always unlocking something new," says Ryan Doyle. "That's something Alex [Ward] at Criterion taught us, it should be like a pinball machine, with the player constantly being given feedback and rewards."
Which is not to say Joe Danger is easy, as I find when I wipe out on my first attempt at a jump, landing neatly in a shark-infested tank. Brilliantly, Joe is grabbed by an unseen shark and dragged rapidly back and forth in the tank, finally clambering out, only to slip back in. "It's a definite nod to Lance Murdoch," says Murray, smiling. Simpsons fans will remember Lance as the faded stuntman who encouraged Bart to jump the Springfield gorge with the immortal words, "Bones heal, chicks dig scars, and the United States has the highest doctor to daredevil ratio in the world."
The team is well aware that variety is key to Joe's success, and they've already created over 150 levels, although they expect to get that down to around 50 for the finished game. Alongside the normal tracks there are six-man boss races (which see Joe taking on the Evil Team in chaotic free-for-alls), challenges and puzzle levels. "We keep forgetting to show people the puzzle levels," says Ream, "but they're a great way of getting people used to how the level editor works. Oh yeah, there's a level editor as well."
It's unlikely to challenge LittleBigPlanet for wannabe mass appeal. In fact, Media Molecule's offices are just around the corner from Hello Games, and there's clearly a pecking order. "We're above a tile shop, they're above a tile-and-bathroom shop," Murray notes. But it's certainly quick and easy to use. "Ryan knocked it up in secret," says Ream. "I was sat there giggling to myself for weeks," Doyle confirms. "I just thought he was being weird again," adds Duncan.
Although it's already ridiculously fun, the guys are still bubbling with new ideas. With release still some way off, the Hello Games boys are sitting on a ramp high above a vast canyon of development time, revving their engines and raring to go. Whether Joe Danger will jump the gorge of player expectation and handlebar-stand its way into gamers' hearts, or simply crash and burn in the valley of apathy, is currently unknown. For now though, the least we can do is to cheer them on.
Joe Danger is due out on PC, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in spring next year.