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Game of the Week: Joe Danger: Special Edition

Away in a danger.

Dingalingaling! That's the sound of Eurogamer's 'Actual New Game' bell, which is currently imaginary, but which Tom is adamant that he's going to make a reality soon - I think because he wants a bell on his desk to annoy everyone with. This is cool if he promises to come to work dressed as a town crier. "Hear ye, hear ye, someone is making a game which you haven't played before."

We ring it this week in honour of Sony and Naughty Dog's The Last of Us, an Actual New Game unveiled last weekend at the Spike Video Game Awards as well as an event attended by our own Johnny Minkley. Not only is The Last of Us a non-sequel from a pedigree studio with (from what we can tell at this early stage) an interesting take on survival action, it was not leaked or teased or spoiled prior to its announcement, and nor did Sony place an embargo on us talking about it on the website until a month after everyone had stopped caring. More of this sort of thing!

Actual New Games are something we hope to make a bit of a fuss about on the site next year - but this week, as the games industry nestles into its winter hibernation, they are in very short supply. Hey, it's Christmas, we'll let everybody off.

QUBE is the leading candidate, an impressive-looking wannabe Portal from Indie Fund-supported debutant Toxic Games, out today. We'll be reviewing it soon, along with the mysterious PC-exclusive arcade racer FlatOut 3: Chaos & Destruction. (Review spoiler: if you are thinking of impulse-buying this game this weekend, for the love of God don't.)

Other than that, the week's all-digital release slate is a string of re-releases and expansions, albeit a pretty tempting one. We're reserving judgement on Duke Nukem's latest adventure for now, but the Battlefield 3 and Gears of War 3 add-ons are definitely a cut above the usual. For retro enthusiasts, there are reissues of Sonic CD (on PSN, Xbox Live Arcade and phones) and the mighty Grand Theft Auto 3 (on high-end phones and tablets). Again, reviews soon.

Arguably, 3DS early adopters have it best this week with today's free release, via the Ambassador scheme, of 10 truly great Game Boy Advance games. Among these are two solid gold, hall-of-fame classics: Yoshi's Island and the first WarioWare.

Yoshi's Island is a port of the SNES' sketchbook swansong: the "most idyllic and loving episode" in the Super Mario series, according to a thing some guy wrote in Edge magazine once. It's not the best version, but it is a good one - and until the original game gets a Virutal Console release, it's the only legitimate way you can play this work of gratuitous genius on contemporary hardware.

WarioWare, meanwhile, shows Nintendo's playful and surreal side in frantic overdrive, and is no less than one of the greatest portable games ever made. It works on so many levels: as a brutally minimalist deconstruction of the fundamentals of game design; as a gleefully stupid mini-game compilation in the fine tradition of Bishi Bashi Special; and as a tart satire on the games industry that is nevertheless one of the most profoundly influential games of the last decade. If you can, download both of these right now.

As great as they are, I'm not sure these free apologias to those of us who paid over the odds for a 3DS should get the Game of the Week spotlight though - so our favourite old game of this week is a relatively new one, and in a new version to boot.

Joe Danger: Special Edition

After 18 months delighting PS3 gamers, Hello Games' jolly arcade stunt racer Joe Danger was finally given a rather less conspicuous release on Xbox Live Arcade this week. Some say that Microsoft initially snubbed it because it "already had a motorobike game" in Trials HD, and subsequently because it wasn't exclusive. Perhaps this remix and expansion of the original was deemed different enough to exempt itself from that rule.

There's lots to love about the tweaks and additions to Special Edition, but then we hardly hated the original, and I'm just as happy to direct Xbox 360 owners back to Tom's Joe Danger review from last year as to present a new one which would, fundamentally, only be celebrating the same things.

"The game's four developers apparently had different takes on what they wanted from their cute, fast-moving stunt game when they began to make Joe Danger, and it does show, but only in a good way," he wrote. "Despite traces of everything from Excitebike and Trials to Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and Sonic the Hedgehog, the result is accomplished and coherent. You can play Joe Danger in a number of ways, but more importantly each is worth playing, whichever way a given level happens to be dragging you.

"If you like collecting things, going fast, beating times, posting scores... If you like video games, basically, you ought to like this."

We know you do. You know what to do next.