Daxter

Review

posted 4/13/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PSP

In 2004 Sony disappointed millions of gamers around the world when they announced that Jak 3 would be the final chapter in the series.  Up to that point Jak & Daxter had been one of the PlayStation 2's most endearing franchises, a 3D platformer that excelled in just about everything it tried.  After the last year's disappointing spin-off, Jak X, fans of the series were understandably worried that this was the end of their beloved platforming heroes.  But these fans need not worry, because if Daxter is any indication of things to come then there are still plenty of fun and exciting 3D adventures to come. 

Daxter is Sony's first brand new 3D platformer for their year-old PlayStation Portable.  Over the past twelve months Sony has managed to release a couple of other games in the genre, but those games -- Ape Escape, MediEval: Resurrection -- were nothing more than ports of older titles.  Daxter is all new, taking one of Sony's most popular characters and (finally) giving him his own big adventure.  It's a no-brainer that this is the PSP's best platformer, but Daxter is also one of the best games you can buy on the system.

Daxter takes place between the original Jak & Daxter and Jak II, filling in a two year gap that features poor Jak imprisoned and Daxter trying to make an honest buck.  In case you've never experienced any of these games, Daxter was turned into an ottsel (sort of a muskrat-like creature) by a magic puddle in the original game, and ever since then he has been this pint-sized sidekick who shoots out sarcastic comments and weaves exaggerated stories about himself.

Daxter finds himself alone in Haven City, a bustling futuristic city complete with flying cars and neon buildings.  Our furry hero has taken a job at the Critter-Ridder Extermination Company as a bug killer, a perfect job for somebody so small and agile.  Daxter comes equipped with bug spray and a cool electric flyswatter, two weapons that get a lot of use by the end of the adventure.  Outside of double jumping and a few other small similarities, Daxter plays a lot different from his human counterpart, one of the things that go a long way to make this game feel different from any of older games.

Like Jak II and Jak 3, Daxter's story is told through a series of missions, each giving you a main objective to complete, such as killing a certain amount of bugs or collecting enough items.  Each of these missions also feature optional objectives, more difficult missions that you can save until later (when you've collected bigger and better items).  This ends up working out pretty good because it gives you a lot to go back and do once you've beaten the story mode and offers a lot more time to the game's overall length.  And best of all, since this game is so much fun replaying these missions is a real joy, no matter how many times you do it.

As a bug exterminator you're going to naturally come into contact with a number of cool (metallic) bugs.  While most of the bugs are little more than a push-over, some of the bugs put up a real fight and require you to master your weapons.  As I mentioned before, Daxter is working with an electric fly swatter and a tank of powerful bug spray.  The bug spray works as both a way to stun your enemies as well as (in later levels) a type of flame thrower.  The fly swatter, on the other hand, is your basic melee weapon, a unique item that is easy to use and makes sense for this story.

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