The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Last year, Joe Danger Touch proved that the titular stuntman could handily survive the jump from technical controller input to auto-run touch controls. For Joe Danger Infinity, Hello Games swaps out life-size characters and environments with a miniature world in which sentient toys ride around on Hot Wheels-style vehicles, ramping over bowls of cereal instead of shark tanks.
The change of pace is welcome, and visually sets it apart as unique from previous console entries. Most of the core mechanics are nearly identical to the previous mobile release, however. The tight tap-and-swipe controls are virtually unchanged. Obstacles and lane-changers look and function the same as before, while some elements like ramps have at least changed into cute little cheese wedges. While Infinity feels familiar, it provides more quality track designs from a team that knows what it’s doing.
Bite-sized levels take these mini-racers all throughout the house. Getting to the finish line is the base goal, but if you want to unlock later stages you’ll want to earn medals for side goals along the way. Collecting all coins, performing jumps and tricks at the right time, or tapping on stars provides an extra layer of challenge and reward, and kept me coming back for more. Most stages also include a hidden chip you can redeem between stages at the toy machine. Here you pull the crank and receive either a new toy character or some coins. You can also buy characters with a huge pile of in-game currency, so lucking out and getting one for free is cause for celebration.
A wide range of vehicles add a fresh feeling to each new level pack. Every six levels or so you can purchase a new car, bike, or four-wheeler with different speed stats and unique traits. One vehicle can bust through barriers, others have more airtime, and one is even immune to mechanical crushers. Along with new obstacles and challenges, the desire to try that next vehicle keeps you sucked into career progression. It also doesn’t hurt that the next stage automatically fires up unless you purposely opt out. The spell of “just one more level” is potent here.
Hello Games’ use of in-app purchases is mixed; some are completely acceptable and others are highly annoying. Buying in-game coins allows you to load up on characters and vehicles right away instead of unlocking them naturally. While this breaks the progression system, it’s totally avoidable. The real money cheats, on the other hand, disappoint on several fronts. First of all, the game prompts you to buy these $1 items every time you wipe out (invincibility, coin magnet, and score boost) instead of instantly revving you up at the starting line. Once you get to the more challenging later levels, you see this tiring sales pitch constantly. Second, these cheats completely invalidate the leaderboard system, since they don’t disqualify you from posting a high score. Players willing to throw down the cash are nearly guaranteed to beat out all of their friends automatically.
Despite these issues, Joe Danger Infinity remains in the auto-running elite with quirky characters and backgrounds, responsive touch controls, and enticing progression rewards. While the old stuntman hasn’t learned many new tricks, Joe’s still got it where it counts.
Email the author Bryan Vore, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.