Death Jr.: Root of Evil Hands-On

We check out the new cooperative multiplayer mode in the upcoming Wii version of the PSP's Death Jr. II: Root of Evil.

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The wacky world of Death Jr. first debuted on the PlayStation Portable and quickly spawned a pair of sequels, including one that bridged the gap to the Nintendo DS. Now, about 18 months after it was originally released, Eidos is bringing the second game in the series to the Wii under the slightly modified title Death Jr.: Root of Evil. We recently had the chance to check out a work-in-progress version and have the latest information on the game and its split-screen cooperative multiplayer mode.

Because the Wii game is essentially a director's cut of the PSP version, additional content notwithstanding, both the story and gameplay remain the same. You still play as the Grim Reaper's son, Death Jr. (or DJ, as his friends call him), and his lady friend and romantic interest, Pandora, as they battle the sinister Furi, the female Night Elf/Incredible Hulk-like daughter of Mother Nature. Furi is desperate to rebel against her good and proper upbringing by turning bad, and with doom and gloom on her mind, she's got to be stopped.

Every chicken should have a laser.
Every chicken should have a laser.

The cooperative multiplayer lets you play as both of the main characters simultaneously, and each is controlled by a Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Basic combo attacks are performed with the B trigger, and more-advanced moves can be performed by flicking the Remote. These special moves are gradually unlocked throughout the game by collecting enough of the bright yellow orbs that are scattered across stages or spill out of enemies when defeated. One interesting feature of the multiplayer mode is that each player has his or her own collection of these orbs, and so the normally cooperative gameplay has a tendency to become competitive to a certain extent when it comes to harvesting them. Besides the characters' default weapons, they each also have a ranged weapon activated by holding down the Z trigger. This fixes the camera into a more traditional third-person shooter view and allows you to aim by pointing the Remote at the screen. Though your ammo is limited, there are enough resupply crates lying around so that it doesn't really become a concern.

Gameplay is still a mixture of 3D platforming and action with some basic puzzles thrown in occasionally. Just as in the original, the dark duo will come across weapon parts on their journey that let them upgrade their guns or build entirely new weapons, such as the C4 Hamster.

In the transition to the Wii, Root of Evil has received plenty of additional voiced dialogue, and its grim but darkly cutesy characters and environments have never looked better. Though the camera doesn't always follow the action as well as it should and there is an almost overpowering motion blur when you turn quickly, the build we received was a work in progress and there's plenty of time for developer Backbone Entertainment to iron out the kinks.

Death Jr.: Root of Evil will be shipping out on May 27. We'll bring you more information as soon as it becomes available.

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