Death, Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom Review


The Death Jr games are interesting, but not because theyíre fun to play. In fact, on the PSP the games have been a little below average at best. Itís not that the characters are all that interesting either. Death Jr is the son of Death himself, but he comes across as just another average kid. He even attends school with a collection of freakish friends, but theyíre not all that interesting either and in their conversations during cutscenes they even seem to be bored with each other. So whatís the interesting thing about the Death Jr games? Itís that in spite of all this theyíre still making them Ö and the latest entry in the series and its DS debut is the worst of the bunch.

The Science Fair of Doom opens at the science fair at Death Jrís, or DJís, school. DJís Siamese twin friends Smith and Wesson arrive at the fair with mutually incompatible projects, a nuclear reactor and demon parts grafted to a bunny. Soon the radiation turns the bunny into a full-fledged demon and opens a portal to a parallel dimension. DJ and friends get swept into a demonized version of their school, the friends get kidnapped, and itís up to DJ and the ghost version of his friend Pandora to save the day.

It takes a while to ďA-buttonĒ your way through the long and boring opening sequence, and once you do the gameplay doesnít do anything to make up for it. The action takes place on the touch screen Ė you use the pad to move DJ and can attack with the A-button or by continually tapping the stylus on your enemy. Hitting an enemy a few times will unleash some special combos, but with or without the combos youíre still mashing A or furiously tapping your touch screen.

The game makes frequent shifts between 2D and 3D, with the 2D used for the gameís platforming elements and the 3D used for fighting enemies. While the fighting elements are simply repetitive, the 2D platforming is downright frustrating. The controls are imprecise so itís difficult to determine just where you will land. If that werenít enough, DJ must use his scythe to hook onto ledges for long jumps and itís completely random as to when scythe will hook on and when it will miss. Getting across a long platform sequence is tortuous. You simply have to hope that youíll randomly make it across and every time you donít itís back to the beginning to do it all over again.

The frustration doesnít end there, however. When DJ kills an enemy it drops a soul jar which he needs to smash open. Unfortunately DJ canít collect the soul; he needs to rely on Pandora to do that. Every time you defeat an enemy, you need to switch to the spirit world to control Pandora, have her scoop up the soul, and then switch back to DJ. But things get worse. Each soul is color-coded and puzzles and obstacles often require a certain colored soul before you can continue. Since you can only carry a small number of souls, youíll often find yourself at an obstacle but lacking the correct colored soul. This means backtracking to find enemies and then killing them until they drop the needed color at random.

So youíve got bland characters in a story that manages to be boring and confusing at the same time, repetitive battles, and tedious and frustrating platforming. Sounds like this science fair is indeed doomed.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 48%. Who would have thought that purging a demonic school of evil by taking control of Deathís son would be so bland, tedious, and frustrating?