Daxter PSP Review

Daxter makes his PSP debut in one of the handheld's best titles.

If there’s one thing you can say thing about Daxter is that it’s polished. In fact it’s so ridiculously polished you would think the PSP had been out five years at the time of game release, such is how superbly developer Ready At Dawn exploit the capabilities of the machine. However, as anyone who has played a poor EA licence will testify, polish does not a great game make.




Daxter PSP Review


In the case of Daxter, though, it helps turn what could have been a very run of the mill platformer into one the PSP’s best titles.

In many respects Daxter is another derivative and unoriginal platformer. But, crucially, it’s brilliantly made derivative and unoriginal platformer with charm to spare. And of course *adopting a Hannibal lecture tone* ooooodles of polish.

Its quality is evident from the very first cut-scene. Well produced and exquisitely animated, it’s the first indication of the care that has gone into making Daxter a fully fledged PSP game rather than a half-hearted port or cash-cow spin off.

This attention to detail is followed through into the game proper. The opening couple of levels are well paced, introducing Daxter - a nimble, ferret-like creature - and his various abilities. As well as the obligatory double jump, Daxter is also armed with an electric squatter used to splatter bugs that infest the games locations.

Spray It, Don’t Say It


A couple of levels in Daxter is also given a bug spray which can be used both to stun enemies and as a makeshift jet pack, boosting Daxter across platforms and onto higher ground. Okay, so we’ve seen similar concepts in platformers like Mario Sunshine, but it’s well implemented and utilised very effectively. Many of the games best moments involve making well timed boots over gaping chasms, giving you just enough juice to make it to safety.


Daxter PSP game Review


Later on in the game Daxter gains access to a flamethrower attachment, which as well as launching him higher and further than before, can be used for other obvious flame-grilled fun, and sonic blaster which, err, blasts things sonically.

City Boy


Daxter is set in the futuristic Hive city - a location that will be familiar to fans of PS2 games in the series – which acts as a hub to various locations Daxter explores. The PSP’s power and beautiful screen are used to great effect; levels are colourful, lively and well designed, almost always coming to an end before they wear out their welcome.

What’s more, exploring Hive made is a seamless thanks to streaming technology that removes the need for jarring loading screens. As well as being an impressive technical feat, considering how long you have to wait for the PSP to load up a UMD in other lesser looking titles, this also gives the game a magnificent flow as you are whisked from location to location without cumbersome pauses.

Okay, so Hive city’s streets can feel a little bare on occasion, since they serve little purpose other than to get you from A to B, but it’s an acceptable price to pay for less piecemeal platforming.

Besides once you get to your location, there are also some wonderful platforming set pieces to enjoy. Highlights include leaping from train to train while avoiding electrical pylons, or boosting yourself from across a series of platforms as a giant chamber gradually fills with lava. It’s not anything frighteningly original but it’s all solidly done and pitched at well-judged difficulty level.

Controlling Daxter is as precise as the PSP’s nub will allow and the camera is generally well behaved, with generous check-pointing preventing any needless frustration when you slip up.

Dream a Little Dream


Just when all this platforming threatens to become monotonous, Daxter has a number of tricks at hand to mix things up a bit. These include some gentle puzzles, the occasional boss battle and some rhythm-action style mini-games.

The most enjoyable of these are movie-themed dream sequences Daxter can play to win new moves and extra health bars. They may simply be matter of matching directional movements or number presses to the on screen action, but they are compulsively enjoyable diversions that that are very are well implemented and animated.

There are also a fair few vehicle sections. Handling is light but responsive, allowing for some weaving chases through city streets and winding caves. It’s pretty easy stuff but most enjoyable; another string to Daxter’s bow rather than being frivolous padding.

The only aspect of the game that feels slightly unwieldy is combat. Pressing the attack button a few times in succession launches Daxter into a combo that flings him about, which can be troublesome to direct and downright risky when fighting bugs on a small platform. Still, it’s a minor complaint when compared to the quality displayed elsewhere.

Platform Perfection?


While it's certainly not the longest game in the world, especially when compared with the epic Jax II, Daxter offers plenty of platforming thrills with out feeling needlessly drawn-out. While levels can be raced through as quickly as possible if that’s your inclination, each one is bursting of collectables to be scooped up by the adventurous and persistent. While only the platforming diehards are likely to want to get a 100 per cent completion score, it’s often tempting to make a tricky jump to pick up a few precursor orbs and open up a new bonus game.

Although it seems a little late in the hour to start criticising Daxter in this review, especially in light of it’s many accomplishments, it does have one flaw that prevents it from achieving greatness.

If Daxter can be accused of anything it’s playing it too safe. It’s a title never feels anything less than solid, but outside the impeccable presentation Daxter is rarely inspired; it’s enjoyable rather than exhilarating. Maybe we have been spoilt with too many 3D platformers, but there always a sense of “been there, done that”. Daxter is a very good game and one that's a worthy contender of any home console platformer, but while it may be polished it lacks the spark and spunk that could have made it truly great.

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