Capsule Review: Daxter

A scaled-down spinoff of the Jak and Daxter series that puts Daxter in the spotlight with a game structure similar to Jak II or Jak 3 (open-world mission progression with varied platforming/combat/vehicle gameplay) but substantial mechanical differences due to the change in player character.

Taking place during the two-year time skip at the beginning of Jak II, the game follows Daxter working as a bug exterminator as he tries to find and rescue Jak. Daxter’s limited moveset is enhanced by a melee weapon (an electrified flyswatter) and a combination ranged weapon and jetpack (a bug sprayer with multiple firing modes) and he also gets to use a few different vehicles over the course of the game. Appropriately, Daxter feels less powerful but more agile than Jak, and his platforming challenges feel different but are just as much fun. His combat, on the other hand, is a bit less enjoyable. Most bugs can take several hits from the flyswatter which makes fighting slow and button-mashy. It doesn’t help that enemy variety is low and Daxter encounters the same bugs throughout the game.

The PSP’s limitations mean the game’s world is small, but this is mitigated by the addition of a lot of side content - most of which is silly, befitting Daxter’s status as comic relief character. Daxter can go to sleep and have dreams that are minigames based on popular action movies such as The Matrix or The Lord of the Rings. There are also a number of collectibles and unlockables such as masks of other characters, behind-the-scenes artwork and videos, and a number of “combat bugs” to find and use in the multiplayer bug combat side mode.

Daxter is a good game that’s likely to appeal to anyone who enjoyed the first three Jak and Daxter games. While its smaller scale and repetitive combat mean it doesn’t quite live up to their standard, it’s worth noting that the fact that it comes close was very impressive at the time. A lot of the game’s reviews called out that not only was it one of the best games on the PSP, it was a good game period and felt like a console experience despite being on a handheld. The fact that this isn’t really a big deal anymore may be why the game hasn’t been ported to any other consoles while the original trilogy has been ported twice, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a solid entry in the series.

I Stopped Playing When: I completed the game.

Docprof's Rating:

Three Stars: Good. I liked the game enough to finish it (or just play it a bunch, for games that don't end). I recommend it to most genre fans.

You can get it or learn more here.