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NDS Preview - 'Death Jr. And The Science Fair of Doom'

by Thomas Wilde on Feb. 28, 2007 @ 1:50 a.m. PST

Death, Jr., Pandora and the crew are back in an all-new adventure.. In their school’s annual science fair, the gang gets into another mess as they accidentally unleash the all-powerful, all-evil Moloch and need to sort it all out before DJ’s dad finds out.

Genre: Action/3D Platformer
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Backbone
Release Date: May 7, 2007

Death Jr., the son of the Grim Reaper, has slashed, blasted, and generally mayhemed (shut up; it’s a verb now whether you like it or not) his way through two 3D platformers on the PSP. With The Science Fair of Doom, DJ is making his debut on the Nintendo DS, and is doing so as the star of an essentially 2D platformer.

In The Science Fair of Doom, DJ and Pandora have made yet another argument for the two of them being locked up until they turn eighteen. Over the course of the science fair, they’ve accidentally released the demon Moloch. Their goal then becomes to defeat Moloch before DJ’s dad finds out anything’s gone wrong. (DJ maybe needs to move to a suburb that has less barely constrained evil forces lying around.)

DJ’s adventure will take him through the halls of his school and the other students’ science fair exhibits, which Moloch has turned into deadly obstacle courses. This version of Death Jr. plays very differently from the PSP games, not only due to the addition of touchscreen functionality, but also because of a new 2D viewpoint. DJ is controlled both with the D-pad and the touchscreen, enabling you to use vicious melee attacks with his scythe.

You can also use the touchscreen to instantly switch over to Pandora, who was, at least during the demo level I played, stuck in a bizarre ghostly form. While DJ does most of the work associated with a platformer – the hopping, the vicious stabbings – Pandora is essentially a ghost. She can pass harmlessly through monsters, and you can use the touchscreen to make her fly over to distant obstacles. This, as you might expect, is used to circumvent various obstacles.

The PSP games were maybe most notable for DJ’s large arsenal of weapons, ranging from the generically destructive to the genuinely bizarre; it is my contention that any game that thinks to include C4 hamsters deserves to exist. The Science Fair of Doom includes such things and more, allowing you to collect money and upgrade your weapons as you progress through the game.

There’s a lot more to say about Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom, but it’s so far from release that there’s little more known about it at this point. The PSP games suffered, to some extent, from first control issues, and then generic platformer-itis.

Hopefully, The Science Fair of Doom can overcome both problems, and from what I’ve played of it, it’s already on its way. It represents one more way in which Konami is throwing its weight behind the Nintendo DS.

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