note this page contains 2 reviews of Death Jr. Scroll
down to read the second review.
Burton would be turning in his grave - if he were
Jr. features the son of the Grim Reaper in his own
action adventure game that has the spirit and look
of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas - but
falls short of reaching its potential. And with crappy
camera angles you'll be falling short more often than
Jr. and his unholy crew of freaks are on a stroll
when they come across a mysterious box. Pandora, who
can't keep her hands off of anything decides to open
it, hereby unleashing the demon Moloch and his army
of horrific creatures. The gang is assaulted by hordes
of demons, spiders, ghosts, bats and other creepy
platforming, fighting, adventure and puzzle elements
the gameplay is diverse with a focus on action. Around
each turn is a maze of enemies that will engage you.
Button mashing is the order of the day but it's not
mindless button mashing. There is a lot of strafing,
circle strafing and platform jumping required if you
are to avoid taking on these various enemy formations
and the projectiles they attack you with.
original weapon is the scythe. It can be used to slice
up enemies as well as to grab on to ledges. Unfortunately
the camera goes wild during platforming and fighting
while it desperately tries to find a new point of
reference. It's not as though the 3D environment is
that detailed that the camera can't adapt quickly.
While it's jockeying for position you will certainly
miss ledges in the process and fall to your demise
- or whatever it's called when Death dies.
such as flamethrowers, shotguns, rocket launchers,
freeze throwers, chain guns and dual pistols can be
acquired by busting open crates. Don't forget the
exploding hamsters. The shotgun isn't very effective
but the flamethrower is too effective. It takes some
of the challenge out of the game but it is sure satisfying
to bring out when you get totally frustrated and overwhelmed.
Accessing the inventory menu can slow you down especially
if you have to get to a certain weapon quickly. There
is no quick-pick feature.
buttons perform dual duty and it's easy to access
the wrong move in the middle of a fall or intense
fight. Speaking of intense, there are some enemies,
most notably the Kamakazes that get up and run right
toward you. You have to make sure to pick them off
immediately otherwise they'll crush you like tinfoil.
It's not easy accessing the right moves in such panic
situations which this game is good at creating.
the production of the game feels rushed. The story
meanders and there are no voiceovers. The colors are
mostly dark purples, blues and various shades of black
which don't lend themselves to a handheld system.
Some characters, including Death Jr. get swallowed
up in the environments from time to time. Some of
the creatures do have the Burton appeal but there
isn't enough animation to give them the depth required
to make them uniquely strange and memorable. Even
the title character is devoid of personality. The
music tends to repeat as do the sound effects.
beginning to wonder if the PSP was such a good idea
considering the lack of original games and the general
lack of quality with original games such as Death
Jr. A little bit more time in the lab and Death Jr.
might have been a PSP classic. As such it's just a
Review by Vaughn
I was calling this game mindless drivel after just hearing
the concept and the name, little did I know how prophetic
I would turn out to be. Death Jr. IS mindless drivel,
and unlike things such as Team America, it's not good
mindless drivel. So how did I know this game was not
going to be all that and a bag of chips? Eventually
you get a feeling for these kinds of things. Amazingly
though, I had no idea just badly the ball would drop
on Death Jr. as it's actually far less entertaining
than I had even imagined. Astounding!
first few minutes of the game are great. The setup
of the story is by far the best thing about the game
and I was supremely disappointed that the level of
imagination didn't sustain itself beyond the intro.
play as DJ, quite literally the son of Death himself,
who is a normal kid attending school with his oddball
friends Dead Guppy, Pandora and Stigmartha, a goth
chick who actually sports the wounds of Christ upon
her which is a fabulous visual and extremely edgy
for a kids game. That's why I was hooked instantly.
When these characters are instantly destroyed thanks
to DJ attempting to impress Pandora (his chick) by
opening a box and unleashing a terrifying evil, the
game quickly went from 60 to 6 and dissolved into
the uninspired gameplay I was expecting. Too bad.
even went out of my to rent a PSP to review this game
as I don't know one. But I thought since releases
are a little light and I've wanted to tool around
with the PSP, I'd check into it. Thankfully most PSP
games aren't this void of fun.
was also expecting this game to be more platform than
shooter but I was very wrong. DJ always has his scythe
at his side which does a decent job, but it's the
weapons that DJ earns at the end of each level which
elevate this gaming experience far and beyond simple
jumping and climbing. Since it's more effective to
shoot everything than get up close and personal with
the scythe, Death Jr. quickly becomes a trigger happy
button masher with rare incidents of platforming like
the scythe helicopter trick etc. In fact, if I didn't
know any better, this game totally reminds me of Ratchet
& Clank with Ratchet being played by Death Jr.
While it's possible to forgo the guns at first, you
won't get through the later levels without becoming
completely proficient with firearms. Oh sure it might
be easy for that one armed blind Japanese kid who
plays games with his foot to make it through the game
without losing a life, but chances are you'll just
plain suck at it.
Backbone has provided the weapon-conscious with a
lot to keep them busy, but instead of balancing out
the power of the weapons, they've overcompensated
and filled with the game with waves of enemies which
appear out of thin air, trial and error deaths and
only 4 lives. Avert your attention for a moment and
you'll be dead.
a case of synchronicity, Death Jr. must travel through
the minds of his friends to ultimately save them and
return them to life. If that sounds a lot like Psychonauts
give yourself a really hard punch in the face. Go
on, do it. While Psychonauts was one of the crowning
achievements of art, humor and substance, Death Jr.
is the antithesis of all that. The levels are admittedly
interesting and varied, but it's what you do in them
that will eventually cement Death Jr's rightful place
in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart.
worlds and characters of Death Jr. are vibrant and
original (allowing a slight nod to Tim Burton's A
Nightmare Before Christmas), but the plethora of cookie
cutter enemies and bosses are largely forgettable
and the most interesting characters die in the first
game is as hollow as the sentiments behind it. More
attention should have been paid to the innerworkings
of the game rather than securing the toy rights and
shopping the concept around to make a major motion
picture. Instead Death Jr. is all about the marketing
in the hopes of landing the Holy Grail of the videogame
market, the recognizable mascot. That's funny, I don't
remember a line of GTA toys and Rockstar did just
fine. I don't even remember a GTA movie
PReview by Devin D.
when videogames were an escape from reality? With the
imagination as the only boundary, we were able to explore
worlds that could never be physical possibilities. And
as videogame technology advanced, games grew. The imagination
was put in the backseat, and realism took the wheel.
Human-like AI (which isn't always the greatest) and
photo-realistic graphics became the norm. The gaming
torch was passed down from the jumping plumbers and
super fast hedgehogs, to the military soldiers in perfect
squad formation with 5.1 surround stereo, and the superstar
quarterbacks with a giant notebooks full of plays to
ultra mega-pixel wave of realism may have to subside,
as the imagination is again rearing its head in game
development. With titles like Viewtiful Joe and Psychonauts,
don't think we forgot about you and your Oddworld
Abe, the "interesting and fun" factor is
once again injected into the vein of the gaming norm.
Now, Death Jr takes the helm and spreads the good
word on the PSP.
Alien Hominid and Crash Bandicoot got super drunk
at a bar then went home to make babies while watching
Tim Burton movies, you will have an idea of what Death
Jr is like. Death Jr is the troubled little son of
the Grim Reaper. Death has a stressful enough job
as it is, and his son, Death Jr is the kind of kid
who gets into tons of trouble. The Grim Reaper can't
handle it anymore and is prepared to send junior to
military academy. Death Jr, or DJ, doesn't stay a
good boy for long. On a field trip to a supernatural
museum DJ awakens a demonic force, which unleashes
tons of baddies all over town. And just like that
time when you were 5 and broke Mother's lamp, DJ has
to clean up his mess before Dad comes home.
story aside, one of the most interesting aspects Death
Jr has is the slick combination of a shooter/platform
feel. While you get to run DJ around hacking and slashing
away at demons (violently might I add) with his scythe,
you will also spend a good amount of time gunning
things down with the nice array of shooting weapons
available. The scythe seems pretty cool as hacking
and slashing aren't the only ways to use it. There
will be situations where you will have to reach areas
that you can't just jump to, so you'll get to use
the scythe to climb or slide your way to your destination.
Basic attacks and exploration aren't the only uses
for the scythe. Death Jr offers up a combo system,
much like the multi-hit combos seen in the later Street
Fighter games. If you hit a certain amount of combos
in a row DJ is granted a Smart Bomb, which will incinerate
any baddies around and create a Bullet Time Matrixy
effect allowing you to hack away at enemies missed
by the blast. Mmm carnage, and how!
small amount of information that has been released
is unfortunately the only glimpse of the game that
we're graced with. By the looks of the things, this
should be a very fun title. Hardcore realism fan boys
will probably start whining about wanting a game that
pits you as the REAL Death, and how you have to REALLY
take peoples souls and yadda yadda yadda. Settle down
and have some fun. Be a kid again. Death Jr is sure
to take us on that journey we took a long time ago
with our first Nintendos, Segas and Playstations.
Welcome back imagination, and welcome to the PSP.
PReview by Chris
Jr. is going to be one of the first launch titles
when the PSP is released. It is not your normal platform
game and for those comic book fans yes this is loosely
based on the comic book by the same name. Military
school used to be the standard thing parents would
use as a threat to get their kids to behave. I will
admit I was even told I was going to military school.
Of course I was already living on a military base
so it was not as effective with me.
main character in the game is on his way to the same
fate if he screws up again at his new school. See
Death has a problem: trouble always seems to find
him or is it the other way around? While he is on
a school trip to the local museum an ancient evil
is accidentally released and is taken over the whole
town. Now the known troublemaker has to save the town
from this evil. He also needs to complete the task
by 0600 hours - that is 6 am to you and me - or it's
off to military school. Now I could throw in a few
classic Cheech and Chong jokes here but I think a
few of the younger members may miss the joke by not
knowing the famous comedy duo.
am really interested in this one. It will not be your
typical platformer type of game. No puzzle solving
or collecting useless tokens involved. You will face
some really nasty enemies in the 15+ levels. Of course
as you get deeper into the game more items and weapons
will be at your disposal. You can tell the little
guy is not your average looking kid.
game will also feature some amazing graphic effects
including particle effects and volumetric shadows
thanks to the PSP's ability to pencil stencil buffer.
In fact the game will play more like a TPS than a
platformer type game. Ancient evil sprits, Red Skinned
demons and other evil creatures await you. It will
be up to you to help little Death defeat all of these
and still stay out of Military School. The game is
being developed by Digital Eclipse and is looking
rather interesting. Take a look at the screen shots
and more details will be added near the release date
of the game.
Released: Aug 2005
Review by StewXX
(OUT OF 5)