Sidekick: The Game

Back in August of 2009, out of a vague sense of obligation, I played through the first Jax & Daxter game.

My conclusion at the time was that it was, if not particularly overwhelming, at least OK.  I thought it suffered a bit from Enforced Wacky, to be honest; it felt like the game WANTED me to laugh but at the same time wasn’t quite up to MAKING me laugh.

For the sequel, I understand, they decided to turn the main character “dark”, which kind of reeks of “OK, we need to appeal to the crucial 12 to 17 year old male demographic, let’s uh make the main character all moody and stuff.”

So I didn’t even bother with the sequel.

I did, however, buy “Daxter” for the PSP, partially because it got simply amazing review scores – impressive enough that I don’t NEED to add “for a PSP game” to the end of that sentence – but mostly because Gamestop marked it down to $2.99 and I figured it had to be worth that.

I’ve been playing through that for the last couple of weeks, mostly in 15 minute stretches on the way to and from school.  It’s a pretty good portable game – it autosaves often, you can save anywhere if the latest autosave wasn’t recent enough, and it avoids having really long cutscenes.  Ready at Dawn gets some serious points for knowing how to design a game for a portable system, as opposed to making a straight-up PS2 port and calling it a day.

Much like “Jak”, Daxter-the-game turned out to be OK, but not great.  It did manage to pull off some genuinely comedic moments, and the final boss fight was frustrating only to the point of feeling tremendous satisfaction when I’d beaten him, not frustrating enough to make me want to hurl the PSP out the bus window.

Unfortunately, it also featured some really painful vehicle sections and really really terrible camera control.  I mean, it makes sense to map the camera control to the R and L triggers on the PSP, but it would have made a lot more sense if they’d mapped the R trigger to, say, “pan right” instead of “move the camera right, making the view pan left”.

Oh, and it takes camera control away from you during boss fights, which is great from the point of view of seeing the boss all the time but not so great when you’re trying to make jumps between platforms and the game won’t let you see which way you’re going.

Those gripes aside, I guess I did play through to the end, and the Enforced Wacky wasn’t nearly as omnipresent as the original PS2 game, and, uh, it was 3 bucks and gave me something to do during my commute.

B-, shows improvement.

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