Jak and Daxter has become one of the most popular and successful series on the Playstation series of consoles. It has somewhat replaced Crash Bandicoot as the flagship game for the console in terms of a mascot. When Naughty Dog announced that Jak 3 would be the final game in the trilogy, there was a huge opening for the traditional supporting character, Daxter, to get his own game. That's exactly what happened, except on the PSP, and while it has a few problems, the positives of the game far outweigh the negatives and it has found a new home on the portable console.
As the game begins we discover that Daxter is searching for his best mate Jak (just before the story of Jak II on PS2) and is now a bug exterminator in the city. The storyline revolves around Jak's rescue and an old shopkeeper who runs a bug exterminating service which Daxter happens to work for. There is a large corporation trying to run him out of town so it's up to Daxter to keep the bug count in check so the townspeople still believe he is doing his job. Of course the corporate giant is not exactly happy with this situation and sends a number of henchmen out to exterminate Daxter before he ruins their plans.
The game, like its predecessors, is played from a third person perspective and is a platforming title. In fact, the similarities to Jak make it a game which will give the fans of the series a huge amount of fan service, but those who haven't been fans of Jak and Daxter thus far, have no reason to ignore this game either. At the core of the game all you really do is move from place to place exterminating bugs and taking on a few boss characters. That is why the storyline and art of the game was so crucial to its success. The writers and developers have continued the witty humor for which the series is known and this is a strong part as to why Daxter has been a successful offshoot of the main series.
The challenge of the game mainly comes from the platforms as opposed to the enemies. Basically we found ourselves in trouble a lot more with double jumping, or jumping on small objects rather than the various bugs you find around the place. The developers have taken this into account when designing mechanics such as where the player restarts. Every so often you reach a checkpoint and if you die, then the game is restarted here. Most checkpoints are located just before a rather hard section so rather than having to go through lots of gameplay to get another chance, you will find yourself usually exactly where you were before the mistake was made.
Enemies come in various shapes and forms and offer differing challenges. Daxter has a number of items which can be used to defeat them. Many enemies require multiple steps to defeat them. This is where some of the games small puzzles reside. Most are solved very quickly and really the only thing stopping you progressing in Daxter is either getting lost, getting bored of collect-athon objectives, or just making mistakes when jumping. Daxter also has a few vehicles to drive during certain missions which breaks up the gameplay quite well, but most are unfortunately the dreaded collect-athon style missions.
The visuals of the game astounded us when the game began. This is as close to Jak and Daxter style detail you are going to get on a portable console. The clarity of the graphics are of course helped by the built in LCD screen but even so, the developers have done a fantastic job with the visuals and it really shows. There are a few moments of framerate drop but overall the game remains playable throughout. The sound effects are impressive as well with the same voice actor used for the Daxter character continues an authenticity and really enforces the fact that this series will be a continuation of the J&D series.
Daxter is a game that surprised us. It was always on the radar for PSP owners but the fact that it's not just a quick port of J&D surprised us. The developers have really put an effort into getting an original game and storyline on the system and it has really paid off. PSP fans finally have a humorous platform game worthy of play.