Daxter Review

Itís taken a little time, but the PSP finally has itself a marquee platformer. Not only is Daxter by far the best platform game available on the PSP, itís one of the best games on the system. In fact, if it had come out for a home console it would be one of the better platformers for that system. Yes, itís that good.

Daxter goes for a ride.
Daxter takes place in the world of the Jak and Daxter games, but this time out the perennial sidekick Daxter gets to star in his own show. However, Jak is nowhere to be found because the game is set between the times of the PS2 games Jak & Daxter and Jak II when Jak found himself languishing in prison. Daxterís big mouth lands him a job as an exterminator when a kindly old proprietor of an extermination company overhears his boasts in a bar. It seems that bugs are overrunning Haven City and the old man finds himself in desperate need of some help to keep up with all of the new work. Being an exterminator has its benefits, namely gaining access to many areas off-limits to the general public, and Daxter sees it as an opportunity to get closer to Jak. So electric flyswatter in hand Daxter sets off to squash some bugs, and maybe rescue Jak in the processÖ

Letís start with the basics. Daxter can jump and double-jump as can be expected in a platformer, and he can get down on all fours to crawl through tight spots like ventilation ducts. Your basic attack is executed with the electric flyswatter which does a good job of squishing the various bugs youíll find in the game. These moves and attacks will serve you well throughout the game, but one of the things that the game does very well is to feed you new weapons, attacks, and moves in a steady stream throughout the game. For example, youíll get a bug sprayer fairly early in the game that can put out a cloud of poison to stun bugs and make them easier to squish. The bug sprayer can also be used as a jet pack of sorts to hover and fly for short distances. Get it near an open flame and you have an instant flamethrower. This kind of variety and versatility of moves and attacks leads to a lot of variety in the gameplay. While many platformers suffer from repetitive gameplay that lead to boredom long before you finish playing the game, Daxter is one that youíll want to play through to the end. Youíll look forward to each new level, wondering what new types of gameplay mechanics and situations await you in each one.

Speaking of the levels, theyíre a diverse collection of environments that include subway tunnels, a skyscraper under construction, and a fish-packing plant to name a few. Each level is packed with a level of visual detail that is nothing short of amazing. Sometimes itís hard to remember that youíre actually playing a PSP game and not a PS2 game. The levels also feature unique gameplay elements such as hopping between moving trains in the subways or using your flamethrower to melt blocks of ice in the fish packing plant. All of the levels are linked through an overworld hub as is used in some of the Jak and Daxter games on the PS2, but unfortunately thereís not all that much to do in the overworld. The game also includes a handful of bonus levels that take place in the dreams of Daxter. These levels are minigames that all play in pretty much the same way, with you hitting the button that corresponds to the one that flashes on the screen. What makes these levels so much fun though is that each one is inspired by a movie that will be very familiar to most gamers out there, and since these are Daxterís dreams he takes the starring role in each. You can expect to see Daxter standing in for Neo, Gimli, and Indiana Jones in The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, and Raiders of the Lost Ark inspired dreams among others. Completing a dream level always results in some sort of award, which is usually a new move for Daxter.