"What we always talk about is a kind of 'Nintendo-y' feel. The Nintendo thing for me is they make it look effortless – they just throw in things. If you're playing Mario Galaxy, you're like, 'That one five minutes, most people would make that an entire game.' That's what I really want so badly for people to play unicycle – or any of those ... we've got skis and it's only like two levels – you want someone to play that and think, 'This could've been a whole game and I would've played it. You know what I mean? But I've just had this one little nugget, and it's left me wanting more. And they move on to the next thing, and the next thing, and they feel like – when they unlock a level – 'I wonder what this one's gonna be.' So we've really stuck to that."Like Mario Galaxy, Joe Danger 2: The Movie is pocked by one-off (or perhaps "one or two-off") gameplay vignettes. "The unicycle has that unique lean thing to stay upright, and it's a really fun vehicle. But we just use it once, don't put it anywhere else, and it's a really cool thing when you find that," Murray said. Of course, if you're just way into the unicycle, you can always create levels just for it in the game's revamped, online sharing-enabled level editor. And that's not all the inspiration Hello Games took from Nintendo. Beyond the inclusion of a barely used unicycle, the second entry for Joe Danger is distinctly more structured than the previous effort. And structured in a highly Nintendo-esque way to boot. Skiing begets skiidooing, which begets jetpacking, ultimately resulting in gameplay featuring all three mechanics – now mastered by a player who's been slowly taught each one, even if only for a handful of uses.
"People weren't sure what to do," Murray explained. "Am I supposed to be collecting the Danger letters or am I supposed to be doing ... you didn't know which one of those things you were supposed to be doing. You also couldn't do all of them necessarily in one run. We thought that was a great idea at the time, then it came out, and people were like, 'I don't know how to get all the stars in one run. I don't know whether I've completed the level. What's the perfect run?' We were like, 'Shit, we don't know.'"
That's been rectified this time around by creating a main objective for each level within an act – the sub-objectives are still there, but now the number one goal in that level is the highlight. Steering the conversation back to Nintendo design once more, Murray pointed out that some of those sub-objectives – even on the very first levels – are "some of the hardest in the game," which he described as "that classic Mario thing."
You're playing Mario, and you're like 'How the hell do I get that star?' And it makes you know that there's more to learn about this game, but I don't know it now," Murray said.
The analogizing may be flying fast and furious, but it's not a bad thing in this case – Joe Danger 2: The Movie is unique, and the comparisons only serve to highlight where Hello Games takes inspiration from. As it turns out, those inspirations are some of gaming history's greats.