February 3rd, 2007, 15:19 Posted By: wraggster
Backbone Entertainment's been spoiling PSP owners. Not only did the development studio kick off the system's launch with its original IP Death Jr., but it also gave the handheld a sequel late last year. The Nintendo DS version took a backseat to the PSP sequel -- the dual-screen game made a brief, behind-closed-doors appearance at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last summer, but it was so early that it was nearly unplayable...and almost impossible to gauge the direction Backbone's Vancouver team was taking with the project.
At last night's corporate event in San Francisco, Konami showed off a close-to-finished version of Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom. The game ran well and showed off a hybrid 3D action game with tons of 2D platforming elements that put heavy emphasis on touch screen control.
So, in the Nintendo DS game, Death Jr., the son of the Grim Reaper, is still in high school, and now has to deal with the horrors of a science fair gone completely bonkers. Players take control of both Death Jr. and his friend Pandora in a very Lost Vikings sort of way, having them work together in order to fix all the evil that's run amok through the school hallways.
We only got a chance to tinker with the early portions of Death Jr. on the DS, which included a whole lot of tutorial that showed off the game's touch screen control. Using the D-pad, players maneuver Death Jr. in the 3D world, and attack enemies simply by tapping on the touch screen with the stylus. There's a combo system in place that requires double tapping on the D-pad or stroking the touch screen in different fashions...a technique which will clearly come handy later in the game when more and stronger enemies enter the fray.
At some portions of the game the camera will swoop in tight for a side-view of the action, and the controls change somewhat to give players a bit more of an old-school platform-style design. Because the game focuses on a control that requires the D-pad in one hand and the stylus in the other, jumping is handled by the shoulder button.
The game clearly isn't keeping up with the visuals pulled off on the PlayStation Portable, but considering the horsepower under each systems' hoods it's not surprising that the DS game doesn't look quite as good. But even with its limitations Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom is no slouch in the graphics territory. The game plays relatively fast and smooth with some nice detail in the environments. The cutscenes, detailed but still frames, show off the game's weird and bizarre art style.
The final product, due this spring, will feature wireless two player support for some of the mini-games that you'll encounter in the package.
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