Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom

Reviewed by Martin Henely, Posted on 2007-06-25


Developer: Backbone Entertainment Publisher: Konami
Release Date: May 22, 2007 Also On: None

Death Jr. must have been a reasonably big hit, for Konami has decided to release a sequel. This sequel, however, was released on the DS, an interesting choice considering the original game was released on the PSP. Still, releasing the game on the DS opened up opportunities and functionality that aren't available on the PSP. Did Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom (hereafter referred to as Death Jr.) utilize these added functionalities well, and was the result a game worth playing? Allow me to answer that question.

Graphically, Death Jr. is pretty good. The characters are animated well and the environments look very appropriate for what they are supposed to represent. However, the level of detail is somewhat lower than what the DS is capable of, although it is fairy average for most third-party games on the system. Overall, the graphics get the job done fairly well, but they aren't particularly awe-inspiring.

On the sound front, the sound effects are a fairly generic lot, but they aren't bad and they work fairly well. As with most DS games, the plot is advanced through text boxes rather than voice acting. The music is appropriate for the environments and the type of game that this is, but it is not anything overly memorable either. Still, the sound does a good job of communicating the atmosphere of the game, and that is the most important thing.

The gameplay of Death Jr. is sort of a platformer. You run around exploring various parts of Death Jr.'s school to try to defeat Moloch and his minions and save the other students at the school. At the same time, you are also trying to find Pandora's body, which was lost in the same accident that caused all these demonic hoards to take over the school in the first place.

The battle system is fairly simple. You have a scythe that you use as your main weapon. You can do combo attacks with this which can employ various finishers depending on which direction you press. You also have a set of different special attacks that you can deploy if you have enough confidence to pull them off. On top of this, there are three different long-range weapons that you can unlock as the game progresses. On the defensive side of things, Death Jr. has a dodge maneuver that he can use to evade enemy attacks.

Speaking of confidence, this marks not only your ability to perform special moves but also affects the power of his normal attacks. Confidence is gained by attacking enemies or shooting Death Jr. with souls, and is lost by performing special moves or by getting hit by enemies. This makes the battle system slightly more interesting, but the battle system still comes away feeling somewhat generic.

So far as souls are concerned, you can only collect and use them with Pandora, the second playable character who, since she lost her body at the beginning of the game, can go into the Spirit World for brief periods. This gives Pandora the ability to collect and use souls to restore Death Jr.'s energy as well as to solve puzzles. There are also some platforms that change locations or appear only in the Spirit World. This means that using Pandora will often be necessary. However, you have a time limit for how long Pandora can spend in the Spirit World before control reverts to Death Jr.

As far as maneuverability for platformer sections is concerned, Death Jr. has a decent arsenal. He can jump and double-jump. He can hang from ledges with his scythe and he can also use it to swing from hooks. He also has the ability to glide down from the peak of his second jump to slow his fall and thus cover more distance with his jump. Pandora can double-jump and glide also when you control her.

Overall, the variety of things that this game offers to the platformer/action genre are pretty good. On top of them, there are two multiplayer minigames that you can play, although neither of them can be played online. Still, the main draw to this game is going to be the story mode. It is reasonably lengthed, and is a reasonably fun game as well. If you are a fan of the Death Jr. character or of this type of game, consider giving this game a chance.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 6.5
Written by Martin Review Guide

Reviewed by Martin Henely