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As the name implies, Death Jr. follows the tale of the infamous Grim Reaper’s son on his quest to rescue the souls of captured classmates from the clutches of an evil power. While the concept behind Death Jr. is inspiring, gamers will be left yearning for something more the entire time. Its mixture of platformer and third-person shooter holds considerable potential, but unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of gameplay development throughout the relatively short single-player campaign.
You'd think that a game starring the plucky young son of the grim reaper himself would make for a creatively macabre affair. Such a character would warrant a dark, Tim Burton-esque universe, perhaps some off-kilter but subtly funny gameplay mechanics, or even just a mere modicum of personality. Sadly, Konami and Backbone's Death Jr. has just about none of these things. Death Jr. starts off showing a measure of promise but quickly degenerates into a frustrating and dull hybrid of a third-person shooter and a platformer that manages to do neither concept well. What's especially unfortunate is that you'll find sprinklings of a great game concept all throughout Death Jr.'s relatively short storyline. It just never successfully delivers.
The increasingly pervasive Westernization of video games has lent itself to some interesting blends of genre and style that would have been completely unimaginable in years past. The FPS genre, still a tiny niche to Japanese developers, has lent its influence to a host of platforming games, creating a hybrid sub-genre best represented by the Ratchet & Clank series. Death Jr. is the latest to steal some of its firepower.
My PSP is so nice looking that I almost don't like taking it out of its protective sleeve, and I even cover it with a tissue when I'm charging it. "Goodnight, sweet prince," I'll whisper into the headphone jack before I go to sleep every … morning.
If I could impart to the youngsters a sliver of my 26-year-old wisdom, it would be this: Don't get too excited. That girl you're desperate to talk to? She's totally insane. Your "awesome" new job? Ten times worse than the old "crappy" one. Sequel to your favorite movie? It's gonna suck. Fortify yourself against life's never-ending parade of disappointments. Expect the worst.