Death Jr 2 Review

Death Junior was the kooky son of death and was one of the PSP’s first featured games. A large amount of hype surrounded it because the graphics looked amazing for a handheld, and the style was unmistakably cute and catchy. But when the PSP’s technical issues reared their slow-loading heads, the game was forced to scale back and what eventually hit store shelves was somewhat less than mind-blowing. All the same, the game did offer some solid platforming action and saw its bit of fame. Then along comes number two, and with this release my hopes were pinned on the issues of the former game getting eradicated and escalating DJ to the glory he so richly deserved.

Alas, it is not to be. It seems that the developers have a different list of complaints than the one I wrote, because while some problems with the game were addressed others were, sadly, not. But before I beat up the new kid, let’s find out about him. Death Jr is back with his weird and twisted cartoon-ish friends, including my personal favorite Dead Guppy, and teaming up with his female counterpart Pandora; Death Jr 2: Root of Evil is upon us. For those of you that played the original, a whole lot will be familiar — the style and humor that made the first game so appealing is still in full effect. This time your big papa Death has been kidnapped by a would-be usurper of the entire world, and you’re unwittingly pawned into solving this big mystery while killing (a lot) and taking names (no names are actually taken).

First off, you’ll notice the graphics, level design and enemies are all increased to some degree. The game is shaping up to look slightly more like what the original promised us with head-spinning graphics and a great and colorful backdrop. In this element it succeeds, because the game is fun to look on. Meanwhile, the variety (and amount) of enemies is greatly enhanced as well. You’ll find everything from little spiders to giant mecha-chickens all slavering for a piece of you. However, as this is mainly a platforming game the variety of attacks and combos is in short supply, and the mod/upgrade system they tacked in seems superfluous and somewhat useless. Mainly you’ll be swinging your Scythe or shooting.

Actually, I’m wrong — you won’t technically be swinging a scythe, unless you choose to play as Death Jr., as you are now given the option to play as Pandora through the entirety of the game. She wields a whip and gun in much the same fashion, however, and with very few exceptions the gameplay seems to not vary at all playing either one. Still, it’s nice to have another character choice, and you won’t have to really worry about missing plot points with either one. But once again, the lack of variety makes character choice pointless and irrelevant.

DJ and his buddies are all excellently voice-acted by a talented crowd. The humorous dialogue and art-style are reminiscent of Invader Zim from the warped mind of Jhonen Vasquez. The actual quality of the graphics, voice and dialogue almost bring MORE attention to the weak and repetitive gameplay, as it seems they were inches away from making a decent game into a great game. As the hordes of enemies that spawn from no where slam you from all sides, the weak and difficult to control camera that plagued the last game makes a dismal comeback. You’ll notice with many platform games that the camera system simply ‘works’ or it doesn’t — we’re hanging well in the latter here. So while the graphics are pretty and the enemies plentiful, you won’t be able to draw a bead on them, or God-forbid, center them on screen. This is not the say the whole game is horrible — you will just suffer frustration from these problems regularly. There are many occasions where you’re running and gunning and everything looks and feels great, but its not consistent.

The music is also fairly catchy and the cutscenes can be downright hilarious at times. But the blatant flaws like inconsistent difficulty spotted with flat unfunny humor attempts, as well as huge gaps between storyline progression seem hell-bent on making you not really care as much as you should. The tone of this game is dead on, but the plot is jagged and weak at times. This is truly a title that I WANT to like, but I simply cannot look past the mediocrity that continues to plague it. If you’re looking for some interesting platforming action for the PSP and don’t really care about the little things, you’ll probably enjoy this greatly. Many of us, however, will be better off looking for Daxter on sale somewhere else.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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