Daxter is a fantastic platformer and one of the best titles you can play on your PSP.
By the time we reached the PlayStation 2 era, console mascots stopped representing brands, but that didn’t prevent Sony from treating the Jak & Daxter characters as such. After all, the franchise followed the footsteps of Crash Bandicoot, since Jak & Daxter started as a series of platformers that eventually received various spin-offs. One of those spin-offs is called Daxter and came out for the PlayStation Portable in 2006. As its name suggests, Daxter focuses on one of the main protagonists, but make no mistake, this is a terrific platformer and one of the best titles you can play on your PSP.
As the name suggests, you play as Jak’s faithful sidekick, Daxter. This game bridges the gap between Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy and Jak 2 and you’re put in the shoes (paws?) of Daxter after he accepts a part-time job as an exterminator which might help him figure out a way to release his imprisoned friend Jak. The ottsel (a combination of an otter and a weasel) can use a series of advanced attacks, including spins, uppercuts, dive and combo attacks. To defeat the nasty enemies known as Metal Bugs, Daxter also has access to an upgradable spray gun that stuns enemies, allowing you to finish them off with a melee attack afterward.
There are traditional platforming levels where you avoid obstacles, collect items, attack monsters and of course, jump over platforms. Apart from these more traditional levels, you also use a vehicle to spread poison on a contaminated field and you need to do this in a limited amount of time. As you progress through the game, you’ll find collectible items known as Precursor Orbs. These unlock mini-games that Daxter can access while he sleeps. During these dreams, Daxter assumes the role of the protagonist of famous films like The Matrix, Indiana Jones, Braveheart and The Lord of the Rings and he plays some of the most memorable parts of those movies. These simplistic mini-games encourage you to push a series of button prompts to complete the scenes and if you finish them successfully, you increase Daxter’s health and unlock special powers.
Despite being created by a different developer, Daxter is remarkably similar to its console brothers and that’s a blessing. The game looks amazing for a PSP game and while the city isn’t as big as the Haven City from Jak 2, seeing the PSP display such detailed visuals is surprising. From a technical perspective, few concessions were made on this portable title and that’s always pleasant. Since we’re comparing Daxter to its console counterparts, it’s worth pointing out that the series’ sense of humor is still here, thanks in part to the terrific voice acting so characteristic of the franchise. At no point will you get the sense that this is a grand adventure (at least not if you compare it to its console big brothers,) but that’s not necessarily a problem, since this is the quintessential portable experience. Missions are fun and short, so you never spend too much time performing the same actions.
As the game advances, you unlock more parts for your weapons, but the core of the game never changes. Still, using your vacuum attack suspends you in the air for a few seconds and little details like this add depth to an already great platforming experience and while this doesn’t change the way in which you approach the levels, it does make Daxter eminently satisfying to play, since you have more weapons at your disposal. Without a doubt, one of my favorite parts about the game is the excellent level design which has you doing something different all the time, so the pace never grow stale. One moment you’re fumigating a field using a fast vehicle and the next you’re trying to figure out how to defeat a giant boss and then you’re sneaking past some enemies while you get rid of those nasty metal heads.
Daxter represents what every portable game should be. This is a terrific platformer that can be played in short bursts, its pace is fantastic, the series’ sense of humor is here and it looks remarkably well. If you own a PSP and you haven’t played it yet, you should definitely get a copy of Daxter. It’s as simple as that.