Daxter – PSP Preview
By: Andy Levine

Anyone that hasn’t heard of the incredible duo of Jak and Daxter has probably been living under a rock for the last few years. Jak’s series was a hit success on the PS2 because gamers simply loved exploring vast universes, and the Jak X: Combat Racing title was also a surprisingly well done racing adventure. This time around, the regular hero Jak has been captured, so we’re finally able to control Daxter on his exterminating quest to save the day.

First and foremost, the most major change in Daxter is obviously the fact that you get to control the tiny orange ottsel instead of a regular human. As a result, you’re faced with an entirely different adventure within a familiar universe. Daxter’s most noticeable difference his is ability to get down all fours, allowing him to crawl through low spaces and explore hidden areas that otherwise can’t be reached. His only way to melee attack is with a swatter, and pressing the square button several times in succession can unleash a powerful combo. A much cooler device is his new spray canister, which carries a multitude of purposes. Spraying enemies with the gas will stun them for a few seconds, allowing Daxter to swiftly run up and smack them around a few times before they get a chance to attack. In addition, the spray can be ignited if you spray into a fire, and as long as you keep spraying you will be carrying around a flamethrower capable of roasting enemies and environmental obstacles. Also, holding down the spray button while in mid-air will make it act as a hovering device, and as long you collect enough green orbs to keep your meter filled you can stay suspended for a long amount of time. Although Daxter might seem like an egotistical critter that isn’t capable of doing much, you can rest assured knowing that he’s bringing a bunch of new moves to the PSP.

Aside from the normal style of gameplay, there are plenty of other game modes within the levels to help break things up. Occasionally you need to play through a dream level, in which Jak actually lives as if he was the action hero he always claims to be. In one such scenario, he closely resembles “The One’ as he beats down waves and waves of enemies. The mechanics behind this game were pretty simple though; all you need to do is press the corresponding key once an enemy walks over it and Jak will take care of the rest. As the enemy count was running down, they started rushing in faster and faster and it quickly turned into a button tapping frenzy. Another minigame popped up like this during a regular level in which 8 valves needed to be kept from bursting, and every time a valve started leaking it could be shut off by pressing its labeled button. Plenty of other features are going to be incorporated into the final version as well. Jack’s spray mechanism can be upgraded, vehicles can be piloted, and he can even capture and train his own bugs that can be used to duel others via the Wi-Fi connection. The intuitive level designs are also offering new challenges, which is why there’s never going to be a dull moment when Daxter makes his way to store shelves.

The best part about Daxter for the PSP is the fact that it manages to carry over the platforming experience effectively despite the hardware constraints. A bunch of different environmental obstacles like exploding valves and floors that fall beneath you once you step on them always keep you on your toes. Various types of enemies were also encountered, including small bugs that can fly around and larger ones with vicious claws. Even if you’re just walking around though the game proves to be a challenge that requires you to think. For instance, one time we had to hover up to a high platform that can only be reached by hovering over an open flame and igniting your spray, which lets you get higher up than before. A lot of the fun comes from understanding what Daxter is actually capable of, and this game constantly throws new challenges at you to keep it feeling regardless of how long you’ve been playing.

When Daxter makes its debut on the PSP this March it’s looking like it’s going to be a must have title for any adventure junkie. Daxter is going to star in his own game this time around, and his campaign is definitely shaping up to be a fantastic game that nobody is going to want to miss out on.