Saturday, August 04, 2007

archive: my only game review

Backstory: I was a huge fan of the PSP. Who knows, I might be again someday. My enthusiasms led to opportunities to review games. Ultimately, I wrote exactly one review. This experience informed my decision to sell the PSP and never, ever write a game review again. The fellows at Penny Arcade do it so much better, anyhow.


Title: Death Jr.
Platform: PSP
Date: 9/17/05

Is it possible for a game to be both fun and unplayable? If so, that game is Death Jr.

I really *really* wanted to like this game. Oh, how I wanted to like it. I mean, conceptually, there was so much to love about it.

Characters named Stigmarta and Dead Guppy? C4 Hamsters as weapons? Too cool!

So when the music first started and the opening movie played I was entirely ready to enjoy.

Then. . . I found myself hollering at the camera. "Suck less!" I commanded. I tried to use the left shoulder button and analog pad to reset it a few times. A few times. Ultimately I gave up.

Then. . . I found myself getting swamped by baddies I never saw coming. "Crap!" I blurted in frustration. I attempted blind button-mashing, but repeatedly fell to the blasts of the shooting guys.

Then. . . I found myself trying three, four, eight times to do scythe hops and hook swings and line grabs and hovers and failing. "Did I just have a stroke?" I wondered.

Nope, no stroke. A few rigorous minutes with Ridge Racer confirmed that my eye-hand coordination was as peppy as ever.

So here's what you get to do in Death Jr: you go kill things, you go back to the museum, you try to figure out what those zillion different power-ups do, you go back and kill a few more things. You struggle with the scythe, scream at the camera every time you find yourself staring at the wall, and howl impotently at the never-ending waves of enemies, fully half of whom shoot s^^t at you, appearing behind you out of nowhere without warning.

I loved the Death Jr concept, Konami. I loved the music, the characters, and the care you put into the little things like the sound effects and the fully destroyable environment.

But between the retarded camera, the never-ending ambushes and the lack of a compelling story, I had to put the game down, delete the saved game, and trade it in.

If you're interested in something a bit different, if you're patient enough to deal with the camera, and if your kung fu is *much* more powerful than mine, you may enjoy Death Jr more than I did. It will reward you with the coolest original music for any PSP game so far, characters that are memorable and beautifully distinct, and the pleasure of throwing exploding rodents.

Of course, I could be wrong.

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