Saturday, February 16, 2008

What I'm Playing: Daxter

Wah?! So, I bought a Sony PSP primarily to play a few games (LocoRoco, Exit, and the upcoming Patapon) that aren't available on other systems. Given the color options (white, silver, or the original black) I chose silver. The color choice was aided by the fact that silver comes bundled with a memory card (quick aside: how can you sell a game system without a memory card when the games require it to save your progress?) and the game Daxter, which had received quite good reviews.

I've been thoroughly enjoying Exit. (Aside #2: why is this game so cheap? Is it that PSP owners -- who are probably also PS2/Ps3 owners -- simply don't like puzzle games? Because this one is really quite good and stylish besides.) But I had an extra hour this week so I thought I'd try Daxter.

The opening sequences to the game are very impressive; lush graphics, cinematic camera angles, entertaining patter between the characters. It certainly stokes your expectations for the game. Then the game starts and... What? A collection game? Is that all there is to it?

After the 20 minutes or so of opening sequence and initial wandering around, I then spent 30-40 minutes collecting bugs. Or rather, weird egg-like things the bugs leave behind. Not exactly exciting. And not particularly stimulating. For all its free-roaming style, there is a clear linear path to follow and the usual jumping, hopping, and crawling to collect the items you need. And despite the lush graphics of the opening, once you get into the hotel, the plants and floor boards etc are noticeably 2D in a 3D world.

How on earth did this game get such good reviews? Yeah, okay. I'm only at the beginning and there is a chance that it may suddenly pick up after I finish this menial chore. But this is a game, for goodness sakes! You don't want to bore your audience to death before they get started.

And it is not that I have anything against collection games in general. Rayman, Banjo Kazooie, Mario 64 are all essentially platform/collection games and brilliant besides. But, unless someone can show me that the game improves dramatically, I don't think I'll be playing Daxter much more.

Is that fair? Is it fair to give up on a game before you've spent a minimum of, say, 2, 3, or more hours with it? perhaps not if you are a professional reviewer. But if you are a player -- if you goal is simply to enjoy the charm, the challenge, and the twists of a good game -- you better believe it is fair!

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