Death Jr. PSP Review

If Death Jr. is fortunate enough to receive a sequel, especially on a home console, it will be worth playing. It features a great sense of humor, lots of destruction, and energetic gameplay. The restrictive nature of the PSP doesn't allow this portable original any room to breathe. It's stuck without any camera controls, crammed corridors, and far too many enemies to handle (of course made even worse by the camera).

This otherwise charming little action platformer has a wonderful style about it. This could be (actually, should be) something done by Tim Burton. You expect his name on the credits, especially with the twisted humor and "unlike anything you've ever seen before" characters. They shine on the PSP, unfortunately stuck on varied but under-detailed stages.

Gameplay is a mixture of various genres, from beat-em-ups, action shooters, to 3-D platformers. Some of these aspects work better than others. They're all hindered by an inadequate control scheme. There should be few complaints about finally receiving some original software for the handheld console, yet Death Jr.'s flaws are aggravating. This was the first game shown for the system when it initially revealed, and with all of that time, the developers at Konami working on this T-rated title failed to find a solution to wild camera.

Using his scythe, Death Jr. can attack in a variety of ways (more moves can be bought as the game continues), and it serves other uses too. It's used for climbing up high ledges, sliding down walls, falling gently when a jump is missed, and catching overhanging objects. It feels natural; the way this otherwise powerful weapon can be used is smart too.

You can never see what you're doing though. You can only reset the camera right behind Death. There's no turning it with the d-pad or the triggers, since they're used for gun targeting. It attempts to mimic popular action titles like Devil May Cry, but without a second analog stick to work with and the little guy's slow turning, you'll be dead before using most of these weapons effectively.

In the early stages, it's not much of an issue. Enemies remain weak, the tutorial introducing new mechanics as you go. It's the later stages, when an entire area is open and filled with goofy critters, not even Death can kill them all. Worse, just a few hits are enough to finish him off, and there are too many times when you'll have no idea what hit you.

This just isn't the console for this game. There's a series in Death Jr., dying (no pun intended) to be expanded. You can see it in the opening levels before you're completely overwhelmed in the later ones. This isn't a bad enough game to condemn the franchise, but Konami needs to be careful where they take him next.

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