Daxter steps out in style!
-Good, solid platforming throughout
-Some interesting new platforming concepts
-Graphics are outstanding
-Perfectly suited to portable gameplay
-Great sense of humour to appeal to all ages
-Brilliantly original dream sequences
-Some bothersome slowdown at times
-Some frustrating puzzles
-Camera can be bothersome
It was inevitable - as long as the brooding Jak continued to roam and rule platform gaming, people would call for his sidekick, Daxter, to return to the limelight. Daxter arrived on PSP, and he has arrived in style, with an original, entertaining and overall excellent adventure.
Let's get one thing straight - Daxter is not going to redefine platforming. What it does do though, is take well-established platforming concepts, spice them up with little touches, and add a nimble 'ottsel' to the mix, making for platforming that really cannot be faulted.
If the first sentence of that last paragraph has you worried, don't be - Daxter does add some great new platforming elements as well as do the established areas brilliantly. For one, you have the excellent spray gun - later on in the game this will get extra attachments. However, straight away you can start using it as a sort of propulsion device. Press X followed by O and Daxter will hover in the air, suspended by his spray gun. This only lasts for a while, and so a lot of fun can be had seeing how long you can keep Daxter up by collecting spray gas clouds while you're hovering. It really helps break up the established platforming concepts into something original for Daxter. Add that to some truly great set-pieces such as hopping from train to train, fighting your way through the bowel of a tanker or facing off against a giant bug and you've got yourself something superb. The game also features vehicles, most of which seem to handle very well and help break up the platforming sections.
If anything lets this game down, it would be two things - frustrating segments and an occasionally bothersome camera. Some areas of the game include little tests where you have to press the corresponding button at the right time. It sounds easy enough, but the fact that one mistake can send you back to square one and the button combinations come at you relatively fast can make for some frustrating scenarios. Keep in mind that with a little bit of patience and practice all of these can be overcome, but occasionally they can change from being fun to being frustrating. However, this mechanic is also involved in the optional Daxter dream sequences, which involve hilarious send-ups of famous movies, such as The Matrix, Braveheart and Lord Of The Rings. As these are completely optional and are great fun anyway, the button pushing mechanic is never really any bother.
As for the second thing that lets the game down - its the camera. For turning left and right it generally works brilliantly, although occasionally will end up facing the wrong direction in small, enclosed spaces. However, Daxter does not have an option to move the camera up and down, and option which to be left out was truly a bewildering decision. In parts of the game you're not sure what is beneath you, and whether you're meant to jump down or jump a gap, simply because the camera doesn't angle to show you this. Thankfully, the game has extremely frequent checkpoints, a free-look option and the camera generally doesn't need much moving about anyway, so it's highly unlikely that the camera is going to cause you any frustration. The fact that camera controls in almost all PSP games is regarded as a contentious issue also means that it would be unfair to single out Daxter.
I haven't covered all the bad points in my summary at the top, and that's really because the other one is really nit-picking. The slowdown almost never comes at an important time and only lasts around five seconds normally. It's generally caused by auto-saving while trying to stream an environment at the same time, which seems to only happen at the beginning or end of missions.
If Daxter does one thing right it's that it is very hard to fault anything involving the main premise of the game. The humour is spot-on, the graphics are outstanding, it isn't a made-for-PS2-but-its-on-PSP game, the platforming is brilliant and refreshing and the combat with a whole manner of bugs is more satisfying than you would think. The game also features an offline multiplayer aspect called 'Bug Combat', which follows a Pokemon style turn-based fighting mechanic. It's nothing special, but you can't fault the developers for at least making the effort to put in a multiplayer aspect.
If you have a PSP, this is the platformer you have been waiting for. With gameplay perfectly suited to be played on the go and an overall excellent platforming experience, you really can't go wrong with Daxter.
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