Monday, April 10, 2006

VG REVIEW: Super Princess Peach & Daxter

Nintendo, for Nintendo DS
rated E for Everyone (comic mischief), $34.99.
RATING: 3 stars

Sony, for PlayStation Portable
rat­ed E10+ for ages 10 and up (ani­mated blood, cartoon violence, crude humor, mild language), $39.99.
Rating: 3 and a half stars

It’s not easy to play second fiddle, especially in a video game, where sidekicks and supporting characters are often left on the sidelines, occasionally spouting a witty phrase (if they’re lucky), but never getting to take on the bad guys.

Two new hand-held games, "Super Princess Peach" for Nintendo DS, and "Daxter" for PlayStation Portable, attempt to remedy that problem with considerable success.

First, "Princess Peach" finds our heroine on a mission to save Mario, which is a bit of a switch because it’s usually the other way around.

To aid her in her quest is a talking parasol that doubles as a rather powerful weapon. She also has four "vibe powers" that you can access via the touch screen to get her out of tight spots.

"Joy," for example, sends her floating up high. "Rage" will set things ablaze, burning down bridges and knocking over enemies. "Gloom" gets Peach bawling, and her copious tears put out fires or help plants grow.

OK, the sexual politics of the game are more than a bit antiquated, but, if you’re willing to put that aside, "Super Princess Peach" proves to be an enjoyable, candy-colored platform game that young DS owners will especially enjoy.

It’s nothing you haven’t seen a million times, but it’s so well-done you won’t mind the familiarity of it all.

Considerably better, however, is "Daxter," a spin-off of Sony’s popular "Jak and Daxter" games.

Daxter, for those who don’t know, is Jak’s smart-mouthed sidekick, a ferretlike creature who, up till now, has seemingly been content to let his friend handle problems that come their way.

In "Daxter," the plucky sidekick is on his own and, for reasons that seem a bit murky, takes up a job as an exterminator, hunting down rather viscous insects in places like bars, gardens and train stations.

At first it seems the game is an average platformer, but the developers do a fabulous job of mixing things up after about the second level.

When not bashing bugs, either with his spray gun or his electric flyswatter, Daxter will have to pilot vehicles, partake in tricky rhythm games and conjure up rather amusing dream sequences, which allow him to learn new moves.

Despite its initial feeling of familiarity, "Daxter" ultimately surpasses "Princess Peach" by offering variety and keeping things from becoming stale too quickly.

If Tonto and Kato had this sort of muscle behind them, they might not have been relegated to second banana.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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