If Trials games were The A-Team then Trials Evolution would be B.A. Baracas, all muscle and menace. Joe Danger, meanwhile, would be ‘Howling Mad’ Murdock, a crazy nut who just happens to have a lot of brains hidden under his cap and loves a wild ride or two.
Joe Danger and its sequel both revelled in the ridiculous but hid a sneakily fiendish game underneath. Hello Games Joe Danger Touch has exactly the same sense of madcap fun that the two console games provided in spades. It even has the same slapstick visuals and a knack for providing tricky obstacles when least expected, but that certainly doesn’t mean that it’s the same game.
It’s clear from the off that the developers have really thought about the platform. Instead of messy virtual controls and complicated setups, they’ve scaled back the design to provide something more akin to an auto-runner where Joe rides his bike from left to right, with only taps on the screen required by the player. Not that this is overly simplistic, the game requires a great deal of skill under it’s easy-to-learn control system and throws plenty of challenges your way to keep you on your toes.
The basic objective, aside from hitting the finishing line, is to avoid obstacles and collect coins. In addition to these is another objective on each level, ranging from finding hidden icons to racing other computer-controlled characters or competing the level in a certain time limit. If you manage to get all three in one run then you also pick up a Pro Medal, the highest accolade in the game.
Earn enough stars by completing tasks and you unlock the next set of levels and a ton more mayhem in the process. New, and often mad, obstacles will task you with jumping shark infested pools, avoiding sharp saws and more besides. While the basics remain the same, duck, dodge and jump, the sheer variety and challenge are more than enough to keep you pressing forward, even when the missions become fiendishly tough.
Another incentive to gain stars is in the costumes you can buy. Some need to be unlocked to complete certain courses, but others are there just for the fun of it. They come with sound-bytes and some change the dynamics of the game by making your bike act differently.
Visuals are a match for the console game with bright and colourful tracks popping from the screen and Joe’s own slapstick character represented perfectly on the iPhone and iPad’s retina display. While the game may look crowded at times, especially when there are so many icons to find and obstacles to avoid, the graphics never look anything other than excellent.
A Joe Danger game just wouldn’t be the same without a leaderboard, as anyone who has played the XBLA or PSN games can attest, and Joe Danger Touch uses Game Center to provide ongoing challenges by either beating your friends to the finish line or competing against the world for the best score. It’s slightly more basic that I was expecting, but no less welcome and should add life to the game once the campaign has been completed.
Joe Danger Touch is easily my first big recommendation of 2013. It encompasses all of the best parts of the console game but in a form that better suits the mobile touch screen format.