Retro Monday: “Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy”

Title: Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

Developer: Naughty Dog

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Released: December 2001

I have to be very careful writing about this one because there may be a bit of a bias. Partly because this is one of the first PS2 games I had so I have played it to death and finished it to over 100% more the a few times and what I call record time. Even with that, I will push forward and give it a 4… I mean review it in a fair and evenhanded manner.

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy” (Or “Jak and Dax” for short,) is phenomenal game even for its age. This is Naughty Dog after all, the people who made “Crash Bandicoot” (a character that sold the PS1), “Uncharted” (a series that sold the PS3), and “The Last of Us” (one of/the biggest hits of last year). I top of that, “Jak and Dax” helped sell the PS2. Naughty Dog has a thing about making a new series every time a new console generation comes out. This is why there was much shock when they announced that their first game for the PS4 console generation was going to be “Uncharted 4”. Anyway, back to Jak…

Jak is a young, rather elf looking, boy who lives on an island with not that many other people and only one girl, (unless you count the woman in the ‘bad guy’ duo). Jak’s sidekick is another young boy who is only elf looking for the opening cut-scene because he (accidentally) permanently changes into an ottsel, a combo of an otter and a weasel, when the pair discover the evil plans of Gol and Maia who want to have supreme power over all Eco. For an easy explanation, Eco is magic in jelly form. It’s not that well explained but by the 3rd game Eco is just the do-all thing like magic is in every fantasy game ever so might as well just call it magic. Now they must go on an adventure to save the world from the scourge of Dark Eco (Magic).

The game plays a series of interconnected areas that have things to do and collect. The main objective is to collect power cells so you can advance to the next area and you collect them but just finding them, helping people, or giving precursor orbs (version of coins if you’re from the “Mario” generation) to Precursor statues. That’s it. The game couldn’t be any simpler. This simple play style plays most in the games favour with you organically going from place to place doing objectives and them moving on when you’re done.

That organic play style also set up president for the company to follow all the way up until present day. “Jak and Dax” had no loading screens. Not even loading tunnels. Even what look like loading tunnels you can play and do things in. You can see that in all their games after that. The “Uncharted” series and “The Last of Us” have no loading screens and just go from one place to the next. And the graphics aren’t scrimped out on for the sake of loading times. The graphics are stunning in “Last of Us”, “Uncharted” and in “Jak and Dax”. “Jak and Dak” has a fluid, cartoon style that is really appealing. With the lead character, Jak, being totally silent there is a vaudeville style to who you react to the world, it’s all in the facial expressions and body movement which adds more to the cartoon style of the game.

As a note, you may remember that I said that I had 100% finished the game and I can say that there is a bonus ending. It’s bonus as in sequel bait. The sequel “Jak II” starts not that long after the bonus ending but the sequel is slightly different to the predecessor. The games being made at that point where excited about duality so “Jak II” went dark. But it’s played in contrast to “Jak and Dax” and (without giving away the ending) plays it so cleanly, when I first finished “Jak II”, I ended up playing “Jak and Dax” all over again.

The game is perfect, not just for regular PS2 owners to play (considering the age range of the PS2 when it came out, PS2 owners are in their 20’s like me), but perfect for the kids of today to play. It’s nice, wholesome fun for all ages.

Retro Score: 4/5

Modern Score: 4/5

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