What proud son doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps? We can think of a few ol’ blocks you don’t want to be a chip off - Saddam Hussein, Noel Edmonds, the Grim Reaper. Alas, then, for poor Death Jr., son of the soul collector. And alas for Root of Evil, a port of a PSP title. It’s a massive chip off the old block - with blocky being the key word. Where in the developers’ handbook does it state that ‘old handheld game + visual polish = acceptable console game’? The entire structure of a handheld game is built around portability: basic controls, short levels, graphical simplicity, gameplay that functions best in short, sweet bursts. Put it next to substantial made-for-console titles and they’re bound to be lacking.
Death Jr.’s PSP roots are rife: you’re shepherded around by impassable cliff faces, combat is a repetitive button-bashing bore and heaps of smashable scenery cynically extend level length by appealing to the OCD in all of us.
Oh, and Death Jr.? Platforming circa 1998 called, it wants its tedious moving platforms back. And before you coo at the zippy frame rate, remember that the graphics only run like this because you’re pumping a PSP game through a Wii. It’s the Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 effect. A second playable character, Pandora, handles like a reskinned Death Jr. - same skills, new names. The ‘laughs to hard-work’ ratio in finding new chortlesome weapons (flaming toilet paper, hamsters strapped with C4) is hardly worth the effort. There’s credit due for aiming these boom-sticks, and slick pointer work allows for super-speedy shooting gallery-esque challenges, but it’s still lackluster stuff.
That Backbone Entertainmentspend so much time promoting the character - merchandise litters their website - shows a dedication to the mascot over the gameplay, a money-making exercise if ever we saw one. Announced one month, appearing the next, Death Jr. has roots of evil, all right - buy into it and you’re simply lining the pockets of Eidos’ next-gen production line.
Jun 2, 2008