The Canon: Jak & Daxter (Part 1)

This week I kick off a new game for the Canon. I am still planning on finishing Final Fantasy XII, but since games are about fun (so I’m told), I don’t plan on sticking to a strict schedule for game completion. Like many I will often take breaks on longer games when my interest starts to drain after tens of hours.

I am a sucker for cheap old games. Garage sales, thrift shops, and the sale rack are my favorite places to scour for games I have been meaning to play since childhood. On a recent road trip Erin and I popped in to a Half Price Books outlet store to stretch our legs. In case you are unaware Half Price Books often has a video game section that has on several occasions given me a fun find for under $5. This particular location was a minor win for me though as I was able to find a box & Manual copy of Jak and Daxter for $2. It’s not a difficult game to find, but I have wanted to revisit this game and it is definitely worth a couple of bucks.Jak_and_Daxter_-_The_Precursor_Legacy_Coverart

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony for the Playstation 2 in December 2001. Jan & Daxter is an 3D platformer where the player guides Jak to collect Precursor Orbs and Power Cells which unlock new objectives and areas to explore. Controls are fairly simple with several melee attacks and jump combinations to traverse obstacles and take out Lurkers which are plaguing your homeland.

Jak and Daxter is set in a fictional world populated by long eared humanoids and a large number of deadly monsters. Powerful magic called Eco permeates the world and provide powerful abilities to those who utilize it, like Jak. In the opening cutscene Jak and Daxter explore the mysterious misty island and find a troop of baddies ready to wreck havoc on the unsuspecting long eared humanoids. Daxter then tumbles into some dark Eco and turns into a weasel. The hero Jak is tasked with defeating the enemies while looking for a way to return his friend to his normal body. So far in my play through, there hasn’t been much added to the story. New areas primarily give new challenges without adding new plot points. It is hard to expect great story from an early 00’s 3D platformer. The story that is there feels appropriate for the gameplay, it just doesn’t push for anything interesting at my current point in the game.

Jak and Daxter is a game I actually have a little experience with. It belongs on my lengthy list of games I meant to play more of. I had a brief taste of it in childhood and spent the next 14 years thinking I should go try it out again. I considered finding this game all the inspiration I needed to pursue completing this game that has eluded me for some time. Overall, I have ben enjoying my play through of Jak and Daxter. The cartoon style brings on the nostalgia for a time when my favorite games were all centered around tough and quirky mascots. Outside of nostalgia, Jak and Daxter holds up fairly well and actually has exceeded my expectations for all ages PS2 games. The world is well rendered, it is an open environment with no obvious loading between areas, and controlling Jak doesn’t feel needlessly tricky. It remains a solid game on an old console.

My largest critique of this game may be the inconsequential nature of some of the missions given to Jak. townsfolk will explain their problems and offer Jak  Power Cell rewards for completing them. While many of these missions are specific tasks like catching pets, completing a mini game, or fighting monsters, there are number of missions which are just turning over a certain number of orbs (a collectible item floating around the game world). While collecting items is a common trope of any platformer, having to speak to numerous people about how they need just a few more orbs is lazy challenge structure.

I look forward to completing this game soon and removing another game from my lengthy backlog.

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-Peter

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