Developer: Hello Games
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Hello Games’ physics racer Joe Danger has jumped its motorbike over 30 burning school buses to come to iOS. However, unlike many other games in this genre, Hello Games apparently didn’t want to have virtual buttons of any kind – Joe Danger Touch is designed to be controled by the touch screen.

It’s just not designed very well.

Players control Joe Danger, stuntman extraordinare, as he or one of his many costumes rides a motorbike through courses filled with ramps, low clearings, and occasional spike traps that come up, just for starters. Tapping on the screen causes Joe to jump, holding causes him to crouch, swiping in the cardinal directions performs stunts, and tapping directly on an on-screen item will collect it, where appropriate.

Joe Danger features a variety of levels; well, they’re all about getting to the end in one piece, but the intermediary goals vary. Some have the player trying to collect letters to spell “DANGER” and others require the player to perform certain actions at the right moment. Along the way keeping the stunt combo meter high to get high scores are also important. Approaching the game as a single-minded one is foolish; success comes from being smart, executing stunts rhythmically, in order to get that high score. Plus, completing all the levels, especially if going for the Pro medals on each one, promises to take a long time – Hello Games claims 20 hours of gameplay and I can definitely see it.

But what really kept me from getting into Joe Danger is the controls. The swipe gestures to do spins are very non-responsive, or at least require swipe lengths that are longer than a natural gesture length. As such, trying to do spins is often a very uncertain thing. One could even say that it’s fraught with danger. Still though, it makes the game a very frustrating experience. The progression curve seems to be extremely slow, barely explaining anything for a long time. There’s something to be said about throwing too much at the player in the early stages of a game, it’s another to be explaining how spins work after a couple dozen levels. And even, then they’re hard to pull off.

Virtual buttons are a nuisance, yes, but sometimes they’re just the better way to do things. Or at least with Joe Danger Touch, while touch-optimized controls were clearly important, they were not perfected before shipping, and they’re a large part of why this one crashes and burns too much for me.

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