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Death Jr. Root of Evil

Preview: The bone daddy or death warmed up?

Originally a PSP launch title, the Death Jr franchise has roots of evil, alright. This was the title promised to melt the eyes of gamers across the globe as the PSP's alleged amazo-graphics were unleashed like a modern day Ark of the Covenant.

It didn't quite play out like that, with Death Jr's slightly old-school hack 'n' slash 'n' blasting met with shrugs all round. So, yay for a Wii port of the PSP sequel, then.

Much of Death Jr's appeal lies in the Tim Burton-esque characters. With the cast of conjoined twins, stigmata-suffering emo chicks and what looks like a malformed foetus in a jar seemingly stumbling from the set of The Nightmare Before Christmas, developers Backbone have always been at their strongest during their narrative asides.

This is no different here. DJ (that's Death Jr to his mates) and pal Pandora unleash an uber-baddie with a penchant for shrubberies - think Batman's Poison Ivy and you're just about there - and must rectify the situation by fighting endless waves of enemies and performing basic platforming tasks.

Kitted out with a scythe jr, basic button mashing attacks are augmented with remote flick special attacks with exotic names like 'Particularly Small Ham' and 'Bag O' Ninjas'.

This is your afterlife

Of more interest to remote fanatics are the revamped shooting controls. From flaming toilet roll launchers to C4 Hamsters, both DJ and Pandora are armed to the teeth.

But where the fiddly analogue nub of the PSP hindered shooting, the pointer has been tightly implemented.

Moving with the analogue stick while the pointer sprays bullets allows for some pretty graceful gunplay, in a sort of Matrix-lite style.

Interestingly, in this early build, when the bullets fly you get that same hit of framerate fluidity that you get in Medal Of Honor Heroes 2 - an unreal sense of speed as a result of seeing what's basically a PSP game pumped through the graphically sophisticated Wii.

Yes, the visuals have been tweaked, with improved lighting and textures, but there's no denying the title's basic roots (ho ho), seen in the simplistic level architecture and character animation.

Of course, there's still time to glam Death Jr into something more distinct but we can't help but worry that its humble beginnings may be a tad too crude to disguise.

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