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Daxter (PSP)

By: Rex Inego | Feb 26, 2007 04:28 PM

I love the PSP when original titles rear their head. There have been a few of late, too, which bodes well for the system moving forward. One such title I've had the pleasure of sinking my teeth into is Daxter, an original platform/adventure game starring one half of the Jak and Daxter duo. This competent platformer wasn't developed by the usual crowd at Naughty Dog though, but rather an upstart built from an ex-Naughty Dog member and an ex-Blizzard member, respectively. You wouldn't know they were a fledgling developer though, as this game shines polish and development maturity through thoughtful level design, tight controls, expanded platform puzzles and a healthy dose of character up the wazoo.

Separating Jak and Daxter was a great idea. Daxter easily brings with him a bunch of character through his humorous animations and annoying sidekick dialog, but he's also the perfect platform character - with his wily frame and in-your-face attitude, he just seems really right for the genre. What works for this game, beyond the above aesthetics is its overall design. My biggest issue with games of this nature on PSP already is control, for example, Medieval sucked because the analogue thumb pad is so small that it was difficult within the confined environmental perimeters of that game to accurately move around, however, Daxter has huge open worlds where moving around isn't just easy, it's damn fun. To this end, Daxter also feels a little like action/adventure games like Zelda in that you have such a scale of geometry to explore, platforming almost seems second overall. That isn't to say the genre tag is wrong, but in terms of sheer scale and level design, this game just barely fits the 'platformer' moniker. The puzzles, action and jumping throughout though, is definitely at home in the field of platform games, and thanks to a super-tight control set-up, it's never felt so refreshingly fun to move around in this way.

The premise is fairly straight-forward: Daxter is offered a chance to kill a few bugs for some extra money after talking up his adventuring skills. What he is unready for is just how many bugs he needs to squash and how long it will take him. The dialog is witty and and well acted out, but for the most part there's not a lot here to fully drive you through. Like most other modern platform games, Daxter is also equipped with an expandable device early on in the game. Because he's now an exterminator he's given a pump to poison the little things. Eventually it'll upgrade and he'll be able to use it as a flame-thrower, extra boost, etc.

Pros: - Good sound - Open level design - Simple controls

cons: - Loading times - Not a great storyline

conclusion: While the story is pretty flat and much of the content expected, this is still a stellar platform entrant for the PSP. Visually it's on par with a lot of mid-generation games on PS2, while aurally it's a real treat with your PSP headphones in place. Loading is a little long here and there, but given the size of this adventure it's not really a between-train-stops romp. The great controls and open level design go a long way to expanding both the accessibility and fun of the title while Daxter himself as a character equally serves as an open-arms invitation for gamers craving something substantial on PSP. Definitely worth the investment for platforming fans or anyone annoyed at the initial lack of original PSP.

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