Platform games are few and far between on the PSP at the moment; however, Daxter is here to fill the void, courtesy of a deal between Ready At Dawn studios and Naughty Dog. Like almost every game handed over to another developer, Daxter represents a kink in the series’ otherwise solid armor.
The story picks up where Jak & Daxter left off. Jak is imprisoned by Dark Eco and Daxter has to free him. However, Daxter gets distracted along the way, saving the game from simply being a ‘go save the star of the series’. Daxter’s first solo outing begins with him taking a job as a bug exterminator.
The hub world connecting the missions is a large city - but could just as easily be a simple world map. Taking jobs is fairly straight forward as there is only one job available at a time, ruining any possible choices in gameplay. This ruins the point of having a huge city and makes getting up to the harder missions frustrating. It also means that if you can’t beat a mission, you’re stuck. In some places it's so bad it loses all replay value because you'll break your PSP when you throw it across the room in frustration.
Driving missions in particular are one of the games weakest areas. Time limits are a big source of frustration when you’re killing bugs with a spray you have to refill constantly. The on-rails riding sections can also be frustrating, as pushing in the right direction at the wrong time can lead to a lethal fall.
It’s a shame about these gameplay issues, because this is one of the few PSP platform games available that really pushes the system visually. Although not perfect, with aliasing or “jaggies” present and an often bad camera, Daxter is one of the prettiest PSP games so far with colourful environments and great character animation. It is visually easily comparable to the Jak and Daxter games on PS2.
Daxter features connectivity with the PS2 game, Jak X Combat Racing. Players can unlock new drivers in Jak X and cheats in Daxter in a kinky display of handheld on console - I’ll stop there, before I start talking about something that would result in kids asking their parents awkward questions. Unfortunately, said cheats don’t allow you to skip levels you can’t pass.
Platform games are always a hit and miss affair on any platform with poor camera angles and a variety of gameplay mechanics issues being enough to break them. Unless you are a hardcore Jak and Daxter fan and must own every game, you may want to give this a pass. There is so much wasted potential here. With any luck Naughty Dog will develop a Daxter title.