When I first caught wind of Hello Games bringing their stunt-racing hero Joe Danger to iOS, I imagined a straight port of the original PlayStation Network release, complete with a screen cluttered with virtual controls. Instead they've delivered a game that fully embraces the touch-based platform, one that's as refreshing to play as it was for the company's founder to develop.
As Hello Games' Sean Murray tells it, after the success of Joe Danger on the PlayStation 3 he found himself in an ironic rut. The game was doing amazingly well and accolades were pouring in, but the success meant that the studio was transforming from a small group of folks making games into a proper company. The studio founder found himself administrating more and programming less.
Murray found solace by dabbling in iOS game development. Using some assets from the PlayStation 3 game he built a little tech demo for an iPhone / iPad version of Joe Danger, and soon it became a real thing. His friend Steven Burgess (creator of the amazing LostWinds, formerly of Frontier Developments) got involved and Murray's weekend project became Joe Danger Touch.
What the pair have achieved is pretty amazing. Joe Danger Touch looks like a PlayStation 3 game (running at 60 FPS, no less) and plays like some of the best iOS titles — Murray told me play testers said it felt like a combination of Bike Baron, Jetpack Joyride and Rayman Jungle Run. That sounds about right.
A much younger Joe Danger rides the stunt-filled courses of Joe Danger Touch, automatically driving forward towards his goal. The player taps the screen to jump, swipes to perform speed-enhancing wheelies, holds a finger on the screen to duck — new controls become second nature within a level of being introduced. This is good, because your fingers are constantly doing more than guiding the hero's journey. Discoverables, coins, stars and other secrets float about each level, requiring taps to collect. This is a game that will keep your fingers occupied at all times.
The coolest feature of the game by far is the integration of Game centre challenges. Once you complete a level with all three medals, you can challenge a Game centre friend to beat your score. The friend will receive a notification, and when they accept it they'll instantly be transported to the level, even if they haven't unlocked it in their game yet. That's pretty damn cool.
There are 10 chapters' worth of levels to unlock, 25 characters to collect (CUPCAKE!), all adding up to an estimated 20+ hours of Joe Danger goodness. It's an astounding amount of game for $2.99.
I liked Joe Danger and its sequel, Joe Danger: The Movie, on consoles. I love Joe Danger Touch.
Joe Danger Touch ($2.99) [iTunes App Store]