Before the PS2 Naughty Dog were only known for making Crash Bandicoot before selling him off after 3 games and a racing title. Now let’s see the beginnings of the franchise on the PS2 where they did pretty much the same thing to it; 3 games and a racing title before abandonment.
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was released for, as mentioned, the PS2. The developers wanted a to create a new and unique series for the PS2 to go along with its status as a new console. In 1999 while some of Naughty Dog were working on Crash Team Racing others were working on the game then known as Project Y. After a development period of nearly 3 years the game released in December 3rd 2001. Many of you already know I love the series, hell I named my dogs after the title character but can I recommend the first game after nearly 15 years? Well that question will be answered if you read. Or not, but if you’re here then I presume you have nothing better to do.
-When something goes wrong in the happy-go-lucky world of somewhere-
Jak and Daxter are two teens who live in Sandover Village. The former doesn’t talk while the latter doesn’t know how to stop talking. The two ignore the warnings of a cranky green eco sage named Samos and decide to take a boat out to Misty Island and explore for some reason. After arriving, they see two figures plotting with an army of Lurkers. The duo, worried by what they are seeing, prepare to leave, but are attacked by a large Lurker. Jak manages to destroy it using a barrel of Eco, but the explosion throws Daxter into a pool of Dark Eco. Daxter flies back out of the pit, transformed into an ottsel which is a otter/weasel hybrid thing.
They seek help from Samos who states that only Gol Acheron, the Sage of Dark Eco, could change Daxter back. However the other sages that could teleport them to him have mysteriously deactivated their teleportation gates so the duo will need to go on foot, using Power Sta- I mean Cells to get past the macguffin walls the game will throw at them. The game continues as Jak and Daxter learn that the Blue and Red sages of eco have gone missing and sure enough, the culprits of their disappearance turn out to be Gol and Maia. The two have been corrupted by Dark Eco and now wish to flood the world with it by destroying ancient silos full of them left by the Precursor Race long ago.
After making it to their citadel the heroes defeat the villains as they operate a Precursor robot, locking them within one of the Dark Eco silos with Daxter getting himself to accept his new life as a talking ottsel. They celebrate with the rescued sages, Jak fails at getting some from Samos’ daughter Keira, and then they discover a precursor door that can only be opened by getting 100 out of the 101 Power Cells. Upon doing so the team are greeted with a blinding light that is supposed to give us a sequel hook. The story is nothing noteworthy, I mean I skimmed over the mysterious precursors who have left pieces of their somehow more advanced old technology all across the land which includes an entire underwater city however we’re not given any more details besides that. The main focus is on, as you’d expect, the interactions between NPCs and such when getting Power Cells along with the game’s dialogue. Jak may not talk but the kid sure knows how to express himself otherwise, he has a lot more character than you’d think a silent protagonist could have. Daxter can get annoying to some and I’ll be the first to argue his humor is worse here but when his dialogue works off Jak it is great. And Samos’ crankiness is done right in a way that works without the player getting sick of him.
Animations and voice acting is all well and good. I’ve heard some people who don’t like the art style but the type of American cartoonishness they’re going for works to the game’s benefit in my book. The game has a amazing set of colors for locales and character designs that doesn’t make you get tired of looking at the game’s list of locations and NPCs.
-SUPER JAK AND DAXTER 64? BANJO KADAXTER?-
Yep, this game is a good old fashioned collectathon and a extremely well made one too. Completing tasks get you Power Cells either by using your platforming skills or by completing missions and minigames for the NPCs. Precursor Orbs are used to purchases Power Cells from NPCs and collecting all 7 Scout Flies in a area gets you a Power Cell. Jak can jump, double jump, punch, spin kick, roll, roll jump, perform a long jump and perform a uppercut punch. He can also do a spin kick in the air to gain a bit more time in the air before falling. Jak is also able to manipulate Eco to his advantage. Green Eco restores health, Blue Eco makes him run faster, break boxes in the vicinity, activate devices and attract collectables. Red Eco increases the damage and range of his attacks and Yellow Eco lets him shoot energy from his punches or from his first person view through his goggles. Not great powerups at all but still helpful in their own right and not always situational. Jak controls well enough with a small criticism being his movement speed although that’s easily circumvented via repeated roll jumping.
Overall getting Power Cells is a relaxing enough task, with enough variety to keep things interesting. The game has no load times, its one seamless multi-level world. You can use teleport gates to get around to the villages in when you need to. The details that I adore in this game include the ability to see different parts of the world from various locations and the dynamic soundtrack that adds instruments in certain areas. Speaking of which the soundtrack is good enough, well suited to each situation or locale but the stuff I consider really nice here is the relaxing tracks such as Sentinel Beach’s theme.
That’s more or less a good word to describe this game in general; relaxing. It’s in no way difficult and getting everything doesn’t require a guide, it’s something I also think you can do in a comfortable amount of time. Nothing is too strenuous and if you want to you can just stick with getting the 72 Power Cells to beat the game. You don’t even need all the Orbs to get 101 Power Cells but I get them anyway because it’s not annoying for me to. Again, this is just a relaxing game to play without dumping anything near a lot of time to do so, I can get to 100% in around 9 hours without practice easily. Yep, I recommend this game for those who want a great, well made collectathon that knows it shouldn’t make every area overly massive because it can. It knows how much and how little of everything it should have which includes stage length. Get the PS2 version of the HD version on PSN if you feel like trying it out…just not the Vita version for the love of god, that version is buggy as all hell.