Developer: Backbone Entertainment
# of Players: 1-2
N Amer - 05/22/2007
Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom Review
The Death Jr. franchise made its debut on the Sony PSP in 2005 as a launch title. It received relatively poor reviews due to its abundance of glitches and generally unexciting visuals. A sequel, Root of Evil, was seen a year later on the handheld, but it unfortunately didn’t correct any of its predecessor’s quirks. Here we are in 2007, and developer Backbone has decided to bring DJ to the Nintendo DS.
Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom, on paper, is a 2D action-platformer with 3D segments. The hypothesis, as the title suggests, surrounds a science fair and a project that went horribly askew. Still-action cut-scenes with text will articulate the anecdote, but the presentation is absolutely unbearable. The text will jump from the touch screen of the DS to the top screen after every sentence, making for a nauseating experience. This would be fine and well if there weren’t so much dialogue, but as it stands, I often found myself reaching for the start button to put an end to the excruciating storytelling.
DJ’s primary weapon is his awfully cumbersome scythe. To execute an attack, you either tap your foes with the stylus or simply press A. Though one would assume the touch-controls would be more enjoyable, it’s quite to the contrary. The recognition is not only off, but the psychics are so clunky you’ll be hard-pressed to hit what you’re aiming at. Later on in the game, your scythe will have the ability to act as a helicopter in the air. This is a nice feature that makes platforming much less frustrating as you can time DJ’s landings more adequately in slow-motion.
Pandora, DJ’s high-jumping sidekick, plays a major role in assisting DJ in reaching certain locations as she is your ticket to the spirit realm. What’s so enticing about the spirit realm, you ask? Souls, of course! After DJ eliminates an enemy, a vase will appear. In the vase lies captured souls. Once cracked, they will be unleashed into the spirit realm. This is where Pandora comes into play. After switching to her by pressing select or tapping on the upper right-hand section of the touch screen, you will have the ability to gather the lost souls. Once gathered, they can be utilized two ways. One is increasing DJ’s health/confidence meter; the second is transporting him to a platform he otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. The latter is done by shooting a colored soul into a magical ring of like-color. Once done, DJ will appear below the ring.
The visuals aren’t superb by any means. The textures are washed-out and lifeless and the environments can get a little stale after an hour or so. Colors appear a tad dim and the character modeling, namely on the enemies, is disappointing to say the least. The audio is sadly no better, sporting an incredibly cheesy score that would’ve worked fifty years ago.
Death Jr. and the Science Fair
of Doom isn’t horrendous. It doesn’t necessarily fail at any particular aspect.
However, it offers nothing that hasn’t been done before – and, for that matter,
done better. The storytelling via jumping text is a real damper on the overall
quality of the product, and the graphics are nothing to write home about.
Additionally, the physics and controls are clunky and the combat system could
have been more intricate. By and large, Death Jr.’s latest foray into the gaming
world isn’t enough to bring this worn-out franchise back to life.
|Review Scoring Details - Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom|
The entire engine has a bloated feel to it, from the whacky physics to the less-than-stellar platforming.
Horrid enemy design and environments that follow suit, Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom is a generally passé-looking title.
Instead of incorporating some type of voice work, the developers whipped out a typewriter. The music is an atrocious affair.
The physics may take a toll on the playability, but difficulty seldom goes above child’s play.
I’m not going to lie – I admire the character Death Jr. After all, he is the son of the Grim Reaper. However, after two failed offerings on the PSP, we’re approaching overkill territory. Let the man rest in peace!
The included mini-games are enjoyable, but let’s be honest: a few mediocre mini-games aren’t going to save a tired single-player campaign.
Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom is a snore-fest laden with abominable controls, physics and level/enemy design. Redeeming factors are scarce.
By and large, Death Jr.’s latest foray into the gaming world isn’t enough to bring this worn-out franchise back to life
Reviewer: Gabe Boker
Review Date: 06/13/2007