It’s easy to be sceptical when a console franchise comes to iOS. There’s always the suspicion of a cheap cash in, or just of a game not suited to the new platform. This latter worry is especially true in regard to console games that require a great deal of precision, much like Joe Danger. With Joe Danger Touch, Hello Games showed that there was nothing to fear, crafting a game that felt custom-built for iDevices rather than shoved awkwardly onto a touch screen. With Joe Danger Infinity the developer have done the same, and though it doesn’t differ far from its predecessor, more Joe Danger is more than welcome.
Like its iOS predecessor, Joe Danger Infinity is like an endless runner minus the endless part. It’s split into a number of levels where Joe keeps moving, but you have to make him jump, duck or do tricks. The controls for these manoeuvres are well implemented, and this simple but defined moveset allows for interesting and challenging level design. The levels themselves are all built with these controls in mind, making the most of them in order to create a good feeling precise platformer on iOS. The end result is something that works excellently on a touchscreen, and is just a great playing game in its own right.
The similarities to the original go even further than control though, and this is somewhat to Infinity’s detriment. Joe Danger Touch was a great example of a franchise being done justice on the platform and Infinity continues this trend by inheriting the DNA of its predecessor. However, it does lack some of the novelty and original imagination that made the first so impressive. Infinity doesn’t go far enough to distance itself from the original in terms of what you do, making it a great way to get more Joe Danger but nothing spectacular in its own right. If you want more it gives you more, but it doesn’t take the experience to the next level or provide something new.
Even the obstacles in the levels are almost entirely the same as those in Joe Danger Touch. They are still fun to get around, but you have got around these before. However, the game does an admirable job of using these inherited objects in interesting and different ways, which makes it well worth playing even if you had you fill with the original. On top of this, there are some new level variants, like helicopter attacks and UFO destroying. These are both fun and compliment the rest of the content very nicely. They even stand out really well the first time you see them as something really interesting, a show that there really is more to Joe Danger Infinity than just more Joe Danger Touch levels. However this moment only comes once, after this these modes are repeated and there are no new surprises.
Though Joe Danger Infinity is in essence just more Joe Danger Touch levels, it is worth noting that they are really good levels. The game shows that Hello Games have a talent for level design, the excellent content may be burdened by similarity but it’s still excellent. There’s a great difficulty curve to the levels, which remain fun throughout but get steadily more challenging in a satisfying way. The levels towards the end get really tough, especially if you want to full completion in each, but they stay enjoyable and achievable. Luckily, the Joe Danger Touch formula is strong enough that more of the same thing still works for Hello Games – purely because they have crafted another compelling platformer that’s a joy to play.
Much like the previous title, the game looks great. The mix of cartoony stuntman gear, toy box props and sheer silliness makes for a great aesthetic. One area where this doesn’t hold true though is in the menus. A long line of selectable levels placed along a school-boy ruler looks nice enough, but it isn’t very user-friendly. The games many levels are grouped into what are essentially worlds, but you can’t just select a world and look at its levels like in the previous game. There are a lot of levels in Joe Danger and they are all displayed along one long line, making navigating between them needlessly cumbersome. This means finding a specific level is a bit of a pain, and due to the nature of the game this can be an issue. As previously mentioned, the game gets challenging, so completing all the goals in a level can present a road block. Sometimes you just want to move on and return to a level later, but the poor menu design makes this unappealing.
The tasks in each level work the same way as in Joe Danger Touch. Getting to the end of a level can be tough later on, but it isn’t the real challenge. The difficulty comes in completing all three goals for each level. These include things like collecting all coins, landing correctly on every target, collecting letters spelling DANGER, popping bubbles, and doing jumps and ducks at the right time. If you complete all three in one run you get a bonus medal, and trying to get all of these is the best part of the game. These tasks not only make the levels more challenging, they make them more interesting, forcing you to keep on your toes and pull off a level expertly. This can involve a degree of trial and error, as some levels make it unclear how to achieve certain goals on a blind run (one or two weaker levels turn this into pure guess work by making you pick a lane but only placing coins in one of them later down the line). However the majority of levels play out really well; you learn to read the game and its obstacles and the best stages take advantage of this. The joy of the game comes in knowing what you have to do and finding challenge in doing it – something that the bonus goals facilitate in most stages.
One welcome new goal in Infinity is reaching a high score on a level. Joe Danger Touch had a trick system (that Infinity inherits) but it never really tied into the levels. You could go for a high score, and get a reward for it, but it didn’t contribute to overall completion on a level. Also factors like different riders having different multipliers devalued the score system, meaning that it wasn’t a great leaderboard game. A higher score may just mean they spent lots of in game currency on a new character, rather than indicating great skill. In Infinity they make high scores matter somewhat by giving you a target score as a goal for some levels. This forces you to play in a much riskier and dynamic way, trying to keep a multiplier up the whole time whilst also completing the level perfectly and collecting everything. Achieving this makes you feel like a Joe Danger master and shows off how strong the games mechanics are. Having to trick through a whole level adds a lovely degree of challenge that is really satisfying, though later it can be applied to levels where it feels a touch to hard. However, skilled players may really appreciate this increased difficulty.
Though score has been made meaningful it still has some issues. It works as a goal in levels, but the system is still too easy to take advantage of. Despite being full of leaderboards, Infinity still doesn’t work as this kind of game. This is once again due to different riders negating common ground, but it has been accentuated by boosters. Boosters are one time upgrades that you can buy with real or in game money; they provide substantial benefits and take out a lot of the fun of the game. One attracts all coins, one makes you invincible and one is a huge score multiplier. Using them makes in game goals pointless and the multiplier makes leaderboards irrelevant. You of course don’t have to use them, and it’s best not to as using them takes a lot of the fun out of the game.
Another change in Joe Danger Infinity comes in the shape of selectable vehicles. You can buy all of the available vehicles for extortionate amounts of in game gold at the start, or wait a while and buy them when they unlock. Every tour (a world) unlocks a new vehicle at a reasonable cost, and the last level of each tour forces you to use the new vehicle in a final challenge. Selecting a different vehicle can increase how many coins you gain and each has its own perks; some negate spikes, some negate barriers and some are just faster. Each track is doable with each vehicle, and using a plane for example will change how the coins are displayed on some levels. For a pure challenge utilise the standard bike, but the extra machines do cater towards some different styles and can really help out on some stages.
The similarities between Infinity and Touch mean that it has inherited some of the previous game’s issues. Bonus levels are still poorly handled, they only allow you one try (no restarts) and after you fail or complete it they set a new criteria to play it again. The criteria is always use a specific (randomised) ride, but this feels like an artificial roadblock to halt progression and is oddly punishing. It was an issue in Touch and is even more problematic here due to the weaker menus. As well as this, though the controls are mostly excellent, they can become problematic. The game won’t always do quite what you want it, and it does confuse touches when multiple things are on the screen. For example, you may go to touch a barrier to lower it but instead the game will read your gesture as wanting to pop a bubble. This (and control issues) is a rarity, but does cause undue frustration when it happens.
Joe Danger Infinity is another really fun Joe Danger game on iOS. It’s not very different from Touch at all, and feels more like a large level pack than a new game. But, there’s loads of quality content here at a low price. It’s well made, a blast to play through, and challenging enough to keep you gripped to your small screen. It’s not as impressive as the series’ iOS debut, but it’s still well worth a download.