E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo)

Microsoft steals a gem from Sony with Joe Danger: The Movie

by William Schwartz


Microsoft has a knack for picking up the cream of the crop when it comes to independent, or smaller titles suited for the Xbox Live Arcade. They’ve scored another one for Arcade fans with Hello Games’ Joe Danger: The Movie. This true sequel to the original sees the stuntman becoming a superstar, who must perform various feats on a variety of transportation devices. You’ll be judged on style, scoring points for doing tricks, and making it across the finish line in the best times.

Though fans of the original will see a lot more variation in this next title. The small independent team responsible for the franchise has elected to bring the game to the Xbox 360, with no plans for the immediate future in returning to the PlayStation 3. Sitting down with Sean Murray to discuss and demo the upcoming game at E3 2012, we got an early look at what’ll arrive on XBLA later this year.

“The first game, we were really constrained, there were only four of us. We thought we could go back and build on it, and actually just concentrate totally on the gameplay.”

“We like to give you alot of variation. The first game, we were really constrained, there were only four of us,” Murray said. “We had to build the entire game and the engine, we also had to manage everything about it. QA for the game, localization, and all of that boring stuff, but it has to be done. We thought we could go back and build on it, and actually just concentrate totally on the gameplay.”

And it shows. Joe Danger: The Movie has a ton of new content that neither the Xbox 360 or PS3 version of the original contained. It opens up the gameplay to a wide selection of transportation options like Unicycles, Jet-Packs, Skis, Carts, and of course Joe’s motorcycle, among others. The game’s premise is ultimately very simple. Traverse the obstacle courses of the game world to progress and unlock stages, earn points, and further your progress on levels of varying difficulty. Crossing the finish line is your most basic objective, but as is the case with these types of games, the challenges are layered as you become more familiar with the game’s controls. Ultimately, gameplay possibilities start to reveal themselves once full command of the controls is learned. This will allow you to look for ways to shave seconds off your total times, or string stunts together for chained multipliers and massive bonuses.

Being featured at Microsoft’s booth at E3 is no small feat for the indie developer. We asked if they were getting any support from Microsoft with the game and the development process, according to Sean: “No, this is very much us. We’re like an independent studio, so we’ve got to do everything ourselves. That’s not to say Microsoft hasn’t been supportive. They’ve brought us here and lovely things like that. I’ve never been to E3 before, and this is quite a cool thing! When it comes to the game though, that’s something we take full ownership for.”

But let’s just say that Hello Games has the core Xbox Live gamer in mind when it comes to Joe Danger: The Movie. A suite of online functionality should resonate well with XBLA fans. A robust level editor allows for unlimited customization options, and Xbox Live allows players to track their friends designs and best times. Basically, it’s got the feature set of a retail title for those on an Arcade budget. Multiplayer felt somewhat similar to Trials Evolution, pitting four players against one another on a four laned track. The only difference was, you could switch lanes, and take your opponents down by punching them off of their vehicles. It’s definitely a game that’ll bring out some friendly competition between friends, and I have to admit, the group I was playing with were having a competitive, yet fun time, while trying to claw our way to the front of the pack.

While its still to early to tell how the final version of Joe Danger: The Movie will end up later this year, if you’re into the XBLA scene, this is one sequel you should definitely keep your eye on.

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