Categories: Featured, Xbox 360 Reviews
Written By: Seamus.CA
Fast, furious and fun levels… Optional collectables that aren’t a chore to hunt… A “replay-level” button gamers will be hitting more than the “next-level” button… A burning desire to top your friend’s high scores… Do all of these features make you want a new old-school Tony Hawk game? Well unfortunately you can’t have one as that series has been grinding down the quality half-pipe for the past few years. However do not distress because developers Hello Games are here to console you with open arms and a very worthy alternative.
Joe himself is a motorcycle stuntman in this 2D mixture of racing, stunt performing, collecting and general replay-that-level-to-beat-that-top-score. Levels take the form of individual tracks which all have multiple goals within them. These goals may be the standard “beat this level in a set time limit,” collect these six letters, find the hidden tape star but this standard format doesn’t take away from the fun of the game thanks to the easily mastered controls. Joe is moved along the 2D tracks backward and forward via the left and right trigger of the XBOX 360 controller respectively. His pace can be sped up with a boost button, which is recharged by performing stunts, and Joe can also jump and duck to avoid obstacles. Joe performs most of his stunts in the air but can also do wheelies to keep this stunt combo multiplying in-between jumps.
A klaxon sounds the start of each race and when it does a clock immediately starts ticking down, pressuring the player to race across the obstacle filled track to cross the finish line as quickly as possible. While racing to the finish is usually the first priority for players, levels are designed in such a way that replaying feels fresh every time. Most tracks can be completed around the 60 second mark if you’re aiming for a perfect speed run so if you need to replay a level multiple times to get the time down you don’t feel the attempts piling up… which they can do in later levels.
Progression in the game is linear. There are two main hub worlds of racing tracks “Career Mode” and “The Lab.” “Career Mode” is the standard affair of beating a level in order to progress onto the next. However a certain amount of “stars” must be collected before later levels can be unlocked. Stars are achieved by completing tasks within a track like the above mentioned collecting items and meeting time requirements. We didn’t have any difficulty in earning sufficient stars to progress to the end of career mode as there are some type of stars that are quite easy to get so progression was never halted.
“The Lab” is similar to “Career Mode” however while “Career” mode focuses around races, tracks in “The Lab” are like tough obstacle courses, kind of like manoeuvring a toy car around old board games like “Mouse Trap” and the like. These challenges are tough but they are not unfair. A certain level of skill is required but nothing is unfair. Take a look at 1:05 – 1:18 of the above trailer. Each race starts off with a title “Attempt X-number” which obviously goes up each time you retry that level in a row. We hit 75 attempts before we made it to the end of that track. Quitting was not an option.
Also included in this game is a “Sandbox Mode” which allows players to make their own levels which can be shared with friends. We played around with this a bit and it does have potential, but we kept going back to “The Lab” to for just one more challenge. There are also a feast of unlockables to gain which net awards like extra character skins (there’s a monkey costume and when worn all the collectable coins in some level become bananas!) and items for your XBOX Avatar.
You will also notice from the trailer that the game has a fun, cartoon vibe to it. It has the charm of micro machines and the influence of old-school Tony Hawk games which make for a great package. We really cannot recommend this game enough. It’s priced at 1200 microsoft points but really is worth every penny.