City 16's Top 10 Games of 2010: #7

In today’s post of this ongoing countdown I’ll be forgoing the usual pithy musings on the state of the year 2010. You, see in this post I have something far more important to talk about; in fact, something altogether more sombre.

Today’s post, you see, is more of a confessional. I must apologise to someone.

First though, I must introduce the game that started it all – despite everything, it’s my seventh favourite game of the year:

Joe Danger

(Should that technically be J-J-J-Jooooooooooooe Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaanggeeeeeeeer? Possibly, but I’m trying to be serious here.)

Joe Danger made me realise that I’m a terrible, terrible person. A complete fucking jerk.

To look at the game you wouldn’t think such a realisation would be possible. A casual glance would lead to comparisons with Trials HD, but in reality the only things that they share in common would be a side-scrolling camera and a motorbike. The better comparison would be to 16-bit era platformers; bright, colourful, cheerful music on levels filled with collectibles. It can also be bastard hard, but for different reasons that Trials HD with it’s punishing physics system. The physics in Joe Danger are, at times, ludicrously forgiving with the challenge instead coming from the environment – avoiding traps or completing increasingly difficult objectives.

None of which explains why I’m a terrible person.

It had all started well enough. We’d sit and play the game, attempting to collect stars or beat time trials. Eventually we even decided to make our own level in the game’s sandbox mode. Our motto for this afternoon of creation was “more sponge,” and turned out to be a surprisingly competent effort, filled with sponge, with a ‘treat’ at the end in the form of a massive jump as a reward for navigating some of the nastier traps. It can be downloaded from here.

I can’t tell you how the bad times began or, more specifically, who started them. One afternoon me and Adam were playing the game and someone mentioned they were beating the other’s score on a level. Before we knew it we were locked in a heated battle for leaderboard supremacy – spending hours stringing chains of stunts together across the levels. It’s rare for me to get to involved in the score-chasing element of games but this time I had a willing opponent of a similar skill level. It was on.

Terrible white-boy trash talk pervaded, with text messages being sent along the lines of, “if you’re getting the feeling that someone has just shown you how it’s done it’s because someone has just shown you how it’s done. Me.” This was followed by a long wait for a reply informing that I too had been schooled. It carried on like this.

My apology, however, isn’t to Adam. He had the power to end the pain at any time and – after a few weeks (or maybe months) – did by moving on to some other game along with some lame excuse about his level scores not being posted online. No, I must apologise to my flatmate of the time, Chris. Whenever a new high score challenge was issued, that was it, the TV was booked up for the day as I went through systematically correcting any evidence that I had ever been anything other than top scorer of my friends list on every single level. Hours could be spent replaying the same level over and over again trying to get a bit more height from each jump to fit in an extra trick to up the multiplier that would take me to victory.

Joe Danger made this possible. Accessible enough that it can draw you in, unsuspecting, to it’s world of a manic stunt-drivers out for objective-based platforming fun, but with enough depth hidden in its scoring system to keep you hooked and competing. Perhaps a better comparison wouldn’t be those bygone platformers but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. It inspires that level of combo precision, taunting you to do better, to take more risks and push just too hard to redouble the pain of losing the whole score when you crash. The beautiful, beautiful bastard.

Finally, to Adam: Those scores are still there… A constant reminder that right now you’re being shown how it’s done and choose to sit and accept it. You have the power to do something about it… The game’s not far away.

Yup, still a fucking jerk.


1 Response to “City 16's Top 10 Games of 2010: #7”

  1. 1 Chris
    20/12/2010 at 22:33

    An official internet apology eh, I feel like a trucker or a prostitute. You forgot to mention just how addictive the tune is to whistle/sing.
    do do do do doo, do do doooo…..

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