Playing Joe Danger Touch staples you with the exact same idiot grin that its older brother on console provides. We visited Hello Games to take their iPhone outing for a spin, and to force their founder Sean Murray to say intelligent-sounding things about it.
What instantly strikes you is that beneath the same visual licks of everyone’s favourite tubby daredevil, this is a very different game. Joe Danger Touch has been built for iPhone, and as such is own beast. Joe’s thumbs up may be the same, but the stuntwork he’s pulled off in the build up needed some new moves. Finger swipes provide wheelies, taps prompt jumps and frantically waggling a digit will win fights with sharks – just as it does in real life.
Let’s not listen to me wibbling on though, have a stare at this screenshot and then let’s talk to notable leader of men that is Sean Murray.
Q. Hello Sean! So, what’s the difference between Joe Danger on console and on iPhone?
A. I’m hoping that someone watching you play Joe Danger on mobile would think “Wow! It’s the same game”. I mean looks-wise, I think we’re putting a PS3 quality game on iPhone and iPad. The truth is though, it’s a totally different game. Right from the ground up. I don’t think it feels like anything else I’ve played. You swipe Joe to make him pop a wheelie, you flick barriers out of the way, you waggle to fight with sharks, you tap to jump and hold to crouch. I want it to feel like it could only work on iOS. We don’t use any of those nasty virtual joysticks, or weird tilting. We hate those.
Q. Agreed, virtual joysticks can generally do one. So can you genuinely get the point-chasing finesse of Joe Danger with a touch-screen?
A. This is a personal point of pride for me. Like, if we can’t, then I feel like we’ve failed. You see, I never wanted to make an iPhone version of Joe Danger. I thought it would be terrible. Instead I was just trying to build some nice tech, having fun playing around with iOS development. I made the mistake of using some Joe Danger assets, and slowly it became a thing. Like this whisper in the background: could we make a real arcadey game on iOS? Stevie Burgess (formerly of Frontier and LostWinds) and I started to think we could. The gauntlet was laid down, to ourselves.
Q. The rumour mill has it that Stevie is ‘lovely’. Can you confirm or deny? What’s the development process been like?
A. Stevie is lovely. I think he’s the nicest person I know, much nicer than those other people I set up Hello Games with! After he left Frontier, he was doing his own indie thing. Stevie has been a friend for a while, and I would always show him what I’m working on. It turned from him making suggestions, to implementing ideas, to suddenly working on it full time. I couldn’t actually tell you when that happened, but he suddenly made it come to life as a real game. It’s a very bohemian kind of development…
Q. What’ll be the most surprising thing about Joe Danger iOS for people who already love his XBLA and PSN adventures?
A. I hope that it evokes all the same feelings of the console version, the same core principles, but it is a totally different game. I imagine fans having a bit of a shock actually, I can almost hear the sounds they’ll make “Hmmmm… I bet I can’t. Oh that’s different! How do I? Oh like that? Oh Ok. What if I? Ooooh”. They’ll like it though, I promise.
Q. So what have you learned during the development of Joe Danger iOS? Are you a wiser, better person?
A. People always say this thing – ‘Oh you are doing an iPhone version’, but they say it like it’s beneath us, beneath any console developer. I see it all the time, in the press, when people speculate that one day iPhones will be real gaming devices. I just think that argument is over. Whether people realise it or not, iOS is a gaming device for more people than pretty much anything else. My biggest learning is that for some people it’s their only device: they love it to bits, and they are proper gamers. They care about what is coming out this week on iOS, they follow development blogs, and they buy a dozen games a month. I hope that we are making a game for those people. I’m certainly one of those people now too.
Joe Danger Touch is out later this year, and also let’s you take on your friends through GameCenter. Me and Sean probably should’ve talked about that during the interview but it’s too late now.