Sony’s PlayStation Portable has been having one interesting ride since it was released back in March of 2005 (here in the States). The PSP really has been begging for a stand out title, as it has been flooded with average to mediocre titles. Today we got the great chance to check out a game that looked promising from the first time we heard about it - great platforming alongside some shooting sequences. The game is Death Jr. and it comes from Konami and can it possibly be the PSP’s saving grace? Read our full review to find out!
One thing that the PSP has really lacked is originality, we have seen several games that sound like they may take a different type of path but all in all we have been seeing pretty typical games coming out. This is what intrigued me at first with Death Jr. as this game seemed like it understood that being different wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. In Death Jr., you play as the son of the Grim Reaper, DJ, who is on a field trip with some of his friends to a museum. On their journey through the museum they find a chest, which DJ found locked but opens it anyways to try and impress all of his friends. What ends up happening is his friends are taken and it’s your job as DJ to rescue everyone and bring peace back to the world.
So you have the story which for me at first sounded like a true novel story that really had potential to push this game throughout the entire story mode. Unfortunately the game doesn’t use the story all that often and when they do, they never give enough emphasis to it. I must say that I was really hoping for more story in the game as I really enjoyed the opening cut scene from the game. With that being said you won’t find much to the story in the long run and although the premise of playing as the Grim Reaper’s son was a great one, the execution wasn’t as great.
Death Jr. combines two of my favorite genres and those are action and platforming and tries to make it all work. The game definitely leans more toward action, as you are going to find that the game heavily relies on you taking out enemy after enemy after enemy. Speaking of the action in the game, you can expect that the game will throw a ton of enemies at you at all times and although this can get somewhat tiresome, the game is still enjoyable. My one problem with this merely comes from the fact that the game just never really finds itself. I say that because the action just always felt bland and never really felt like it had a purpose.
Then there is the platforming in the game, which really shows where the developers needed to spend a lot more time working on. The platforming on the game has two problems. First off the camera in the game just doesn’t work well when you have to start jumping around the environment and that causes a lot of frustration. The second issue I had with the platforming elements was that they were also much uninspired. It just seemed like it was too mathematical and they didn’t let the game just flow fluidly.
With Death Jr. it is not so much that the gameplay is bad. I just felt the execution of this game just left you with too much to be desired. I was playing through Death Jr. and I enjoyed it, however there was so much potential with this game that wasn’t used that you couldn’t help but just be disappointed by the final results. This was not helped by the fact that the game itself is not very long at all, around seven hours.
The one thing that stood out to me even through the disappointing gameplay was the visuals in the game. It wasn’t that the visuals were overly stunning, or that they just looked lifelike. It was more the style in which the developers used that really caught my eye and just impressed me quite a bit. If you saw the movie "The Nightmare before Christmas" then these visuals will remind you a lot of those as this game seem to do a great job of using the same sort of style.
The game isn’t perfect in the visual department, however as the graphics really could have used some more detail in the environments. The environments to me just didn’t live up to the character models and therefore the environments seemed bland and missing key ingredients. Overall the visuals of Death Jr. were good but still left room for improvement.
Death Jr. really had the potential to be one of the games to really put the PlayStation Portable on the map. It had a storyline that really could have caught people’s attention, and the premise of the gameplay of course had a lot of potential as well. Unfortunately the final result just was nowhere near as fun as the game sounded like it would be. The gameplay got repetitive and the camera in the game just felt like it needed a lot more tweaking to get to the best results. The game starts out with a lot of fire, and ends pretty cold missing a lot of the much needed essentials.
I am very sorry to say that although Death Jr. does have some fine qualities they don’t add up to a great game. This is a game that I would still recommend as a rental game but anything past that and you would probably not be getting enough bang for your buck. I guess we still are going to have to wait for a standout PSP title as Death Jr. just can’t fill the void.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.