Nearly two and a half years ago, the original Joe Danger hit the PS3 and provided that system with a fine physics-based biking game since it lacks the Trials series. It essentially combined the skill needed to excel there with a very light-hearted tone more akin to Excitebike, and like that classic, also gave you rivals to race against. The SE version of the original hit the Xbox 360 in December of last year, and now less than a year later, 360 owners can play both entries in the series.
The Movie is all about doing more in every way. There's a lot more variety to the gameplay now. Before, it was all about getting coins or achieving star ratings through exceptional performance. Now, that's still a big deal, but you can do more than 'just' ride a motorcycle to do it. The game BEGINS with a mine cart, and unlike the ones in the DKC series, they're an absolute joy to take part in. You move on from that to jetpacks, skis, snowmobiles, and even get to race on a unicycle.
Most of the vehicles feel about the same - there isn't much of a transition from a bike to the mine cart, skis, or snowmobile for example, but the jetpack and unicycle have their own quirks to them that you have to get used to. The jetpack, just like it does in the Pilotwings games, gives you a lot of precision and doesn't really have much of a learning curve to it. The controls are different than using any bike-like device, but it really just amounts to aiming with the left stick and throttling with A instead of using RT to accelerate. The unicycle has the hardest learning curve of anything you can use.
The use of a movie as a framing device for everything is great because it allows the light-hearted humor to shine even more. This largely equates to a lot of movie references, and while they're all fairly obvious homages to famous franchises, that doesn't make them any less fun to see. It also leads to funny bits like the director yelling action, cut, and all that kind of thing that add small bits of humor throughout the game. I also love the movie trailer of your greatest exploits after you finish a set of stages - it makes the challenges offered up by the stage even more worth it.
The original game had some tremendous level design, the sequel continues that trend, and now you can craft your own with a level editor. Every stage in the game was made with these tools, and you're eased into them with playable tutorials that teach you every single step of the process as you go along. It makes the process slightly more time consuming than just jumping in, but allows you to make better use of that time since you WILL learn things faster this way than just having a video show you what to do. Afterwards, you'll easily be able to drag and drop any items you want into whatever stage setting you want and upload stages quickly as well.
Visually, the Movie is more interesting than the original. It retains the same kind of cartoony art style, but there's a lot more variety due to the movie-style backdrops. You'll go from Indiana Jones-style appearances to snow, to cops and even robots. The variety really goes a long way to keeping the game interesting to look at. The music is a lot like what was in the first game. There's a lot of wacky, cheery stuff and you get jollier versions of action movie-style music. It all fits the game well, but isn't the kind of stuff I'd probably listen to outside of it. The director's verbal cues are a great help given the faster pace of the levels, and the bone-crunching sound effects for crashes sound horrific. It's really the one area they didn't go all wacky with, and it helps.
All in all, if you loved the original Joe Danger, you'll love this one too. If you didn't, then I doubt the new variety will really appeal to you since the core gameplay, regardless of the new vehicles, is basically the same outside of the unicycle and jetpack. I love the level creation tool, and anyone who found themselves wanting to do that in the first game will be in heaven with it since it's one of the easiest to use on the market today. For $15, there's a lot here, and if you're in the mood for stunt racing, this is the game for you.
This review is based a digital copy of Joe Danger 2: The Movie for Xbox Live Arcade provided by Hello Games.