As a child, I always used to doodle a wicked sweet pair of shades and a massive grin on the sun, forever beaming comforting Crayola rays in the background of my picturesque scrawls. I grew up with age. Guildford-based Hello Games, thankfully, did not: Joe Danger's cardinal rule seems to be that if you can draw a smiley face on something then you absolutely must.
Joe Danger is a bright, saccharine game and those used to the monochromatic will probably need to wear sunglasses while playing until their eyes adjust. But, really, who hasn't missed the days where big red springs and chunky spike pits were major design features?
This XBLA-exclusive Special Edition, released over a year after its vanilla PlayStation Network counterpart, arrives with a surprisingly candid confession on behalf of its development team: Joe Danger, the motorcycle aficionado dubbed in-game as the world's most determined stuntman, was released last year because the team ran out of money.
Joe Danger: Special Edition, then, arrives with the promise of refinement - the original's jagged edges have been smoothed over. Quite literally, in fact; tweaked innards help the game run with 4x MSAA and a sharp reduction in load times, and the game's pleasing rhythms of trial-and-error now culminate in a leaderboard screen that actually pops up with gusto.
While Joe Danger initially looks and feels like a retro homage, it's actually more of a celebration of youth in all its exuberant buoyancy. This isn't a title simply trying to ape the spirit of the 90s, then, but a game made by a team collectively imprinted with the memories and experiences of growing up with the SNES, Mega Drive and original PlayStation.
The studio has expanded since the original release, but the gaming influences of the original Hello Games quartet become Joe Danger's criss-crossing objectives, with noticeable hints of Excitebike, Sonic the Hedgehog and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater mixing together. Initially the mass of objectives can prove slightly daunting, with players being asked to simultaneously navigate branching lanes, gather D-A-N-G-E-R letters, boost, collect hidden stars, spin, maximise an uninterrupted flowing combo and pull off sweet tricks.
Joe Danger clicks after a couple of hours, but even after multiple sessions with the game the amount of actions can occasionally prove overwhelming. Yet the game's charm and design ensure that you're never far away from having another go - while the game is unashamedly trial-and-error, its main priority is to ensure you have fun - and the gradual difficulty curve helps keep Joe's motor running.