Daxter Preview (hands on)

Daxter Preview (hands on)

Written by Cyril Lachel on 2/14/2006 for PSP  

Since its release the PSP has managed to rack up a number of top notch racing games, but what about all those other genres?  Where is that variety of games we've come to expect from other PlayStation products?  And more specifically, where are all the high-quality 3D platformers?

Of all the current generation consoles, the PlayStation 2 has been leading the charge when it comes to character-drive platformers.  With Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper, and even Ape Escape, the PlayStation 2 was the platform to own if you were a fan of 3D platformers.  Outside of a port of the original Ape Escape, the PSP has largely been without any of these franchises.  That is, until now.

Next month Sony will not only celebrate the one year anniversary of the handheld, but they will also introduce the PSP's first brand new platformer, Daxter.  Set between the original Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy and Jak II, Daxter is a brand new adventure that stars everybody's favorite Ottsel.  Recently I had a chance to check out the first couple levels and I've come away impressed with just about everything I've seen.

Although you don't get to play as Jak, Daxter will feel instantly familiar to anybody who has played through the previous outings.  The game's look and feel is very similar, with a few moves taken directly from the PlayStation 2 games.  What is different is how you attack, which involves you spraying enemies with green bug spray.  If you're not much for long range attacks, you can also melee your foes with a device that looks an awful lot like a fly swatter.

Your weapons aren't just good for hurting your enemies, you can also use them to solve puzzles and reach ledges you couldn't reach by jumping (or even double jumping).  If you have enough bug spray you can use that steady flow of green substance to float from platform to platform; when you're a tiny little creature like Daxter you have to use all of your faculties to your advantage.

If you're a fan of the Jak & Daxter art direction then you're going to fall in love with this little PSP disc.  From the indoor areas to the sprawling outdoor environments, Daxter does an excellent job of shrinking that Jak style down to the portable screen.  Especially impressive is the animation, one of the franchises biggest attributes.  Watching Daxter run, jump, and swat enemies away is always a joy, couple that with unique character designs and you have yourself one heck of a 3D experience.

The game isn't all platforming, though.  The demo I played featured a separate mini-game that was nothing more than a parody of 2002's Matrix Reloaded.  Despite its age (and the fact that many other games have done Matrix parodies), this is a fun little game that has you pushing the buttons it calls out before you are attacked by dozens of enemies.  Beyond this dream sequence, Daxter promises plenty of other mini games, as well as the ability to pilot vehicles.

Like all demos this game only gives me a taste of what's to come when the game is released next month.  While Daxter is certainly building on top of a number of fantastic platformers, there is still room for something to go wrong.  This is the first Jak & Daxter title that is not being developed by Naughty Dog and nobody knows just how long of an adventure we're talking about here.  But even with a few doubts, Daxter is shaping up to be one of the best PSP games of the year.

With its great sense of humor, tight and responsive controls, and stylish graphics, Daxter is one game that you should be paying attention to.  We'll have much more on Daxter in the weeks leading up to its release, including a review of what could be the first must-own platformer on the PSP.  

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

Daxter Preview (hands on) Daxter Preview (hands on) Daxter Preview (hands on)

About Author

It's questionable how accurate this is, but this is all that's known about Cyril Lachel: A struggling writer by trade, Cyril has been living off a diet of bad games, and a highly suspect amount of propaganda. Highly cynical, Cyril has taken to question what companies say and do, falling ever further into a form of delusional madness. With the help of quality games, and some greener pastures on the horizon, this back-to-basics newsman has returned to provide news so early in the morning that only insomniacs are awake.
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