Despite falling in love with the first Joe Danger iOS game, I was so ready to hate the sequel. Well, maybe not hate, but I was almost positive it’d be a disappointing follow-up. This is because I was following the launch closely, and what I learned wasn’t good. Despite having “Infinity” tacked to the end of the title, it wouldn’t actually be endless (which would have been a super fun change to the formula).
No, it was going to be almost exactly the same as the first game, but set in a slightly different environment. The sound effects, character models, on-screen prompts, controls — all nearly an exact copy. Making it worse was the fact that it quickly dropped in price, effectively burning the early adopters who paid the full $2.99 (although, in all honestly, price drop drama doesn’t bother me much — most iOS games still cost less than a bottle of water). When I finally got my review copy of Joe Danger Infinity (out now, $0.99), though, all of the pessimism in my headed melted away during the very first level. I’d forgotten why I fell in love with Joe Danger in the first place: it’s just damn near perfect.
It turns out I’d been thinking about Hello Games’ new game all wrong. Sure, it’s very, very, very similar to the first one. But is that so bad, when the first game is Joe freakin’ Danger? As I played through that first level, and the next, and the next, I couldn’t help but smile. It’s like sliding into a favorite shirt, or crawling into bed at the end of a long day. Everything just feels wonderful, and oddly comforting. They really hit on some amazing, mysterious combination of presentation and gameplay mechanics with the first one, and they’d almost have to be crazy to mess with it.
So, then, you’re still holding the screen to duck and releasing to jump. You’re still swiping to perform wheelies and various other tricks. You’re still tapping the same red pop-up gates, floating over fans, trying to land on bullseyes, and completing three objectives centered around finding hidden things and coin collecting. You’re even still faced with bonus levels that lock themselves behind specific characters each time you retry them.
Okay, not all of it’s the same. The biggest change is that you are now playing in a miniature toy world instead of a cartoon stunt course world. It actually fits incredibly well with the bubbly art style and breezy game mechanics, to the point where I found myself wondering if the first game should have adopted it, too (to further differentiate it from its console predecessors, if nothing else). It’s not just an environmental change, either. You can actually choose different toy vehicles to ride this time around, and most of them even end up feeling different from the main bike you start out with. One clever thing I liked is that they now divide scoring bonuses and coin bonuses between characters and vehicles, respectively, so you can mix and match different combinations to have a set up that nets you a big score AND a nice payout of cash instead of one or the other.
Despite being almost positive I’d feel “meh” about Joe Danger Infinity, I ended up loving it every bit as much as the first game. I don’t care that it’s barely more than an expansion pack, or what the price is or was. It’s just a damn fun game that’s impossible to dislike. In fact, the game feels less like a sequel than a refinement of what made the first game great. I might even go so far as to say Infinity should have been the iOS version they released in the first place, with it’s toy theme and smart vehicle mechanics. It’s the same as the original, but slightly better, for a measly dollar. What’s wrong with that?
iFanzine Verdict: Hello Games’ Joe Danger Infinity is a cartoony stunt bike game that is an absolute joy to play. It also happens to be nearly identical to the first Joe Danger game on iOS, save for a slightly different theme and some new vehicles. It ends up feeling a bit like an expansion pack rather than a true sequel, which is fine as long as you weren’t actually expecting a sequel (like I was). Still, even if it is sort of an expansion pack, it’s still a very cheap one and every bit as ridiculously fun as the content in the original. Don’t miss it.