Joe Danger was a stunt hero, right up until he bit off more than he could chew and ended up hospitalized. It was a gruelling process, but he's back on his bike, and only you can help him to get back to the top. Expect to spend a huge amount of time flying through the air, making the kind of landings that'll make reproducing all but impossible.
This handheld version is an upgraded port of the 2010 PlayStation 3 game of the same name. Across dozens of levels, you'll need to get from A-to-B as smoothly as possible, collecting items as you go. While fans of the genre may notice similarities to Trials, the actual gameplay outside of the premise is completely different; Joe's stunts are more about exploration and collection than speed and perfect balance, so the two games complement each other quite nicely.
The choice of console is perfect as well. While it's disappointing that it took as long as it did to get Danger on the Vita, it's an ideal match. The short levels and pick-up-and-play mechanics are fantastic for periods of travel or work breaks.
Your goal is simple: get Joe to the end of the level with as few bruises as possible. Along the way, you may be asked to pick up a few stars or coins, or to beat the stage as quickly as possible, but those are extra challenges that reward you with the ability to unlock later levels. Going back, once you've mastered certain skills, is a big part of the experience, and it's fun to watch as you progress.
It's not going to be easy, though; the controls are remarkably simple to pick up, and you can get away with a huge amount of mistakes, but mastering the game is tough. This makes it a nice choice irrespective of your skill level. If you see yourself as the next Evel Knievel, then you'll have plenty of opportunity to prove yourself. On the other hand, if you're one of those people that wets themselves if they come anywhere close to the speed limit, then you'll probably have fun, too.
Performing tricks refills your boost metre, which gives you occasional spurts of speed. These can help you to get up a tricky slope or smash the fastest time, and you'll need to learn how best to use it if you want to reach the top of the leaderboards. You'll usually just wheelie between obstacles, but there are other rather more grand abilities at your fingertips. Once you're done with everything else, you'll be able to work towards increasing your score on each level, and knowing which combination of buttons makes for the highest scoring tricks will be a big part of this.
Like the old Tony Hawk titles, collecting everything will require you to know both Mr. Danger's skills and the levels themselves. This is, again, something that you can mostly ignore if you choose to. You'll come across an occasional locked level which you'll need to gain access to by collecting stars in already unlocked stages, but this is by no means going to have you going too far out of your way. Fans can go above and beyond the bare minimum, though, and this'll add on several hours' worth of fun.
This will be if you can get over the repetitiveness of the package, though. All of the levels look vaguely the same – a desert-based assault course with only a small variety of different things to get in your way – and after a few hours play, you'll feel like you've seen everything. The graphics that are there are nice, and the level design is quite clever, but that's not enough when the visuals themselves are so samey.
And this is a shame, because there are some quite clever ideas here. There are stages where you must go into a level editor as you drive along, for example, so that you can move obstacles around. Original and fun, it's slightly underused in practise, but still a nice addition.
Still, those that loved it on the PS3 will be happy to return to Joe's death defying life on the Vita, not only because of the portability. There's some new content, 25 characters to play as, and all of the additional stuff from the special edition. On top of that, the controls have been tightened up, meaning that this might just be the best version to play if you're new to the franchise.
Joe Danger is probably at his best on the Vita, but the improvements aren't enough to recommend another purchase unless you're really into the franchise. Fun gameplay and decent level design mean that it's well worth checking out, but rushing in again at full price may end up being a risk that even the bravest stunt rider should think twice about.