Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
It has that magical feeling that not all games can possess and it's just flat out a joy to play. One of the few games that I can't help but smile and have fun when I'm playing... A true 3D platform/adventure masterpiece.”— David Zdyrko IGN, 9.4 out of 10
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is the first installment in the Jak and Daxter series, developed by Naughty Dog Inc. and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released in December 2001 for the PlayStation 2 console, and later released in February 2012 and June 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita respectively, as part of a remastered HD version of the original series, accompanied by its sequels, Jak II and Jak 3.
The game follows titular protagonists Jak and Daxter in their mission to stop evil siblings Gol Acheron and Maia Acheron, with their legions of lurkers, from destroying the world with dark eco. After Daxter falls into a dark eco silo at the foribdden Misty Island, he is transformed from human to ottsel and discovers that he must find the dark eco sage if he has any hope of returning to his previous form. The sage is later revealed to be Gol, leaving Daxter with the ultimatum of using the elusive light eco to either destroy Gol and Maia or change himself back.
The Precursor Legacy takes place around ten years after Jak and Samos' arrival into Sandover Village after the conclusion of Jak II. It features various puzzles and platformer challenges, requiring the player to collect Precursor orbs and power cells in order to further the journey north. During the quest, several new locations are visited, namely villages, with differing characters requiring the duo to accomplish varying tasks.
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is a third-person beat 'em up 3D platform game, centering on Jak, a 5'6" athletically built human villager, with the ability to perform simple melee attacks such as a sliding punch (square), spin kick (circle), aerial uppercut (square + x), and jumping dive (x + square). The player traverses the game's world using Jak by running, jumping (x), rolling, leaping from a rolling position (l1 + x), and swimming. The surroundings the player encounters largely vary, though the main hub places take the form of villages. The game starts in Sandover Village, with neighboring areas including Misty Island, Sentinel Beach, and Forbidden Jungle. From the start of the game, the player can freely roam the locations as they wish, though some parts are only accessible after unlocking them (for example, Misty Island when Jak accomplishes a mission for the Fisherman, allowing him to use the Fisherman's speedboat). As the game progresses, new hub locations are unlocked such as Rock Village and Volcanic Crater, with surrounding places such as Boggy Swamp, Snowy Mountain, Lava Tube, Precursor Basin, and other differing habitats, including open waters (however most waters are guarded by a lurker shark which acts as a boundary defense, keeping players from exploring too far out in the world's setting).
As a platformer, this game requires the player to collect items necessary to unlock new hubs. The player starts off by collecting Precursor orbs which can be found scattered around the world both in hidden and open locations. Villagers and oracles will then trade a power cell in exchange for a given amount of Precursor orbs (either 90 or 120). In turn, the power cells are then used to power devices which Keira Hagai builds or repairs, which are then used to travel further north. Additionally, the player can free locked up scout flies, the seventh of which releases a power cell. There are seven scout flies in each area for the player to free and collect. Power cells can also be found lying in wait to be collected in the environment, though this is more rare, especially as the game progresses.
The game showcases a seamless and open environment with crisp 3D visuals, highly interactive enemies, and gameplay mechanics for the PlayStation 2 layout which optimizes usability and continuity, such as the lack of loading screens which allows for the continuation from area to area without having to stop. The game is split up into three separate hub locations, each area differing in features and atmosphere. The protagonist reacts to his world in different ways respective to the environment layout—e.g., when in shallow pools of water, he moves slowly while waddling side-to-side, after falling from a high ledge he will "splat" on the ground and lose a hit point, and when encountered, he will burn in lava, swim in deeper waters, and while on varying altitudes walk slower or faster according to the pitch of the platform.
There are four types of eco which Jak can use throughout the game as "power-ups", allowing him to regenerate hit points, run faster, activate dormant Precursor technology, break boxes, punch and kick with more effectiveness, and shoot fire-like projectiles from his hands. The player can pick up small clusters of these ecos, allowing its use for five seconds per cluster. The player can also pass through eco vents, allowing much longer usage for a maximum of twenty seconds. Both amounts are indicated by a gauge; when a cluster is picked up, only a quarter of the gauge fills, whereas when powered up by an eco vent, the gauge becomes full. Absorbing one type of eco color while previous channeling a different type will replace it with the recently collected eco. The four ecos are green eco, blue eco, red eco, and yellow eco, which heals, invokes kinetic energy, enforces physical power, and shoots from long-range respectively. There is also dark eco, which acts as a hazard throughout the game: dark eco boxes can be encountered in locations, and if Jak touches them, the following explosion will cause him to lose one of his three hit points (indicated by a heart split up into three sections). Dark eco "pools" can be seen as well, and if Jak were to fall into one, he would lose all of his hit points. Additionally, towards the end of the game, light eco is discovered, however the player never uses it, rather, Jak grabs it and throws a stream of it at the Precursor robot to destroy it during a cutscene.
Attributed to its building upon the Kinetica game engine, the game also heavily incorporates race elements. Jak can use Keira's A-Grav Zoomer to traverse over lava, water, or otherwise inaccessible areas. These locations include Fire Canyon, Lava Tube, Misty Island bay, Mountain Pass, and Precursor Basin. The A-Grav Zoomer is a personal "hoverbike" vehicle, which has the ability to hover at a base altitude of a few inches off the ground by use of propellers. The vehicle can gain air, thus achieving greater altitudes, by flying off of ramps or hills. The A-Grav Zoomer is capable of flying over lava in credit to its heat shield, a device which cools the A-Grav Zoomer by using power cells which Jak has to supply Keira with in two instances, one as base protection and then an additional time to upgrade it. Like Jak, it is also capable of picking up blue eco, green eco, and yellow eco, allowing it to fly faster, repair damage, and shoot bolts of yellow eco respectively. Another vehicle which the player can use is a bird-like animal called the flut flut. It is a mount, which can glide over long and high distances, and has a single charging attack, powerful enough to break strong boxes.
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is set in a fictional unnamed planet in the far past which consists of villages and small settlements, varying natural environments and ruins from an ancient civilization known as Precursors which were said to have built the planet long ago. The first and primary hub location is Sandover Village, home of the two protagonists, Jak, a 15-year-old mute, and his best friend Daxter, a 15-year-old fellow villager who is transformed into an ottsel in the beginning of the game. The planet runs and relies on a life source known as eco, created and used by the Precursors. The two protagonists are watched over by Samos, the sage of green eco and father of Keira Hagai. Lurkers are the primary enemies of the game, commanded by the antagonists Gol and Maia Acheron, who have been corrupted by the effects of long-term exposure to dark eco. Villagers and inhabitants of the planet are highly xenophobic towards lurkers, viewing them as monsters. The primary currency in the game is Precursor orbs, old artifacts left behind by the Precursors.
The opening sequence of the game features Jak and Daxter in a speedboat headed for Misty Island, an area prohibited by their watch over Samos. Upon arriving to the island, Daxter had second thoughts about straying from the village. The two perch on a large skeleton to observe a legion of lurkers crowded around two dark figures, Gol and Maia, who were commanding the lurkers to "deal harshly with anyone who strays from the village," and to search for artifacts and eco the villagers may possess. After the secret observation, Jak and Daxter continue searching the island. Daxter trips on a dark eco bomb which he tosses to Jak after expressing his dislike for the item, and as Jak caught the object it lit up. Shortly afterwards a bone armor lurker suddenly confronted the two, where Jak threw the dark eco bomb at the lurker, killing it, but inadvertently knocked Daxter into a dark eco silo behind him. When Daxter reemerged, he was in the form of an ottsel, and upon realizing the transformation he began to panic.
The duo returned to Samos' hut the next morning to ask for help. Samos revealed that the only one who may be able to change Daxter back is Gol Acheron, a dark eco sage who Samos had not spoken to for years. Additionally, this sage lived far to the north side of the continent, and Samos had no way of teleporting them there as the other sages had not maintained their teleport gates. It is then decided that Jak and Daxter must go through a training course at Geyser Rock in order to prepare themselves for traveling north on foot and collect power cells for Keira's A-Grav Zoomer, which they were to use to pass over longer distances and volcanic lava. After Jak and Daxter's training at Geyser Rock, they were permitted by Samos to explore Sandover Village and beyond in order to obtain twenty power cells for the zoomer's heat shield which protected it from Fire Canyon's lava. After completing the task, Jak and Daxter traveled over the lava in order to arrive at Rock Village.
While at Rock Village, Jak and Daxter activated the Blue Sage's teleport gate. When Samos and Keira traveled through, Samos began to suspect something was wrong after seeing the Blue Sage's hut a wreck, and Rock Village under siege by giant flaming boulders falling from the sky. Soon afterwards it is revealed that a giant lurker named Klaww was stationed at the entrance to Mountain Pass who had been wreaking flaming boulders down on the village. Klaww had thrown a boulder in front of the entrance to the place where he was standing, disallowing any passage between Rock Village and Mountain Pass. In order to continue north, Jak and Daxter needed to collect twenty-five more power cells, totaling forty-five, in order to power the Blue Sage's levitation machine which would be used to lift the boulder out of the way. Upon completion, Jak and Daxter confronted Klaww and destroyed him, and used the zoomer to travel through Mountain Pass, arriving at Volcanic Crater towards the end.
After arriving at Volcanic Crater, Jak again activates a teleport gate, this time at the Red Sage's hut. When Samos and Keira traveled through, Gol and Maia reveal themselves, and divulge their plans. They told the group of how they had kidnapped all the sages, the Red Sage of whom gave in with "so little effort," and planned to use their mastery of dark eco to power an ancient Precursor robot they were building at their citadel. They then planned to use the robot to crack open the silos and release the dark eco inside of them. After their disclosing of information, they teleport away from Jak, Daxter, Samos, and Keira, who then planned to ensue Gol and Maia and stop them from continuing on with their corrupted plan. Keira decides that the best course of action to reach their citadel would be through an underground Lava Tube, although the zoomer could not withstand the lava's heat with the current heat shield strength, and revealed that they would need to collect even more power cells to travel through. This time Jak and Daxter would need to amass seventy-two power cells in total.
Upon arrival to the entrance of Gol and Maia's Citadel (which was evidently the neighboring location to the Yellow Sage's hut) Jak and Daxter teleport Keira to them, although Samos did not accompany Keira. She reveals that he, too was kidnapped by Gol and Maia. Jak and Daxter then enter the citadel to locate and free all the captive sages. After this, Jak and Daxter ride up an elevator platform and battle Gol and Maia in their Precursor robot. After significantly damaging the robot, Jak channeled a cloud of light eco which appeared after four towers emitted colored eco beams. He threw a light eco projectile at the robot, destroying it, where it then sank into the dark eco silo below, taking Gol and Maia down with it.After the defeating of Gol and Maia, Jak and Daxter travel back to the four sages. Samos notes that the dark eco only "probably destroyed them", and the Red Sage comments on Keira's potential to become a sage. After collecting all 100 power cells and unlocking the "secret ending", Samos, Jak, Daxter, and Keira turn toward a large Precursor door which is opened using the cells. Behind it is a large, blinding light which is later revealed in the second game to be the Rift Rider and Rift Gate. If the player had not collected 100 power cells, Daxter will complain about needing to go on more adventures, whereas if the case is otherwise he will comment on them being heroes and already having the cells.
Development on The Precursor Legacy began in January 1999 as "Project Y". Only two Naughty Dog members were allocated for this project as the rest of the Naughty Dog team were working on Crash Team Racing. The rest of the team also began to work on Jak after the release of the PlayStation 2 console. Naughty Dog confirmed the idea with Sony Computer Entertainment, and after displaying a character named "Boxman" to demonstrate their animation engine, began to create "Jak and Daxter".
We didn't think, when we were making the game, of the people that would come through and improve the game['s code].”— Jason Rubin, Jak and Daxter Collection™ Behind the Scenes tribute video
Development on The Precursor Legacy spanned almost three years. Throughout this time period, the game underwent a multitude of changes to almost every aspect. Naughty Dog programmers tweaked and changed the game engine multiple times, though the ultimate result allowed for the removal of loading screens or lag, and a display of seamless, high quality 3D textures. "Looking under the hood, yes, it was a surprise to see that much code," says Robert Toone of Mass Media. "I was there, sitting next to the programmer, helping him figure out what kind of clever algorithm Naughty Dog had come up with. [...] You gotta figure out how they did all this 'multi-layered, multi-textured rendering'. Ugh. Brilliant. But, troublesome," in regards to remastering the series.
The main characters also underwent various evolution. Originally, there was going to be a third main character that would develop as the game was played in a Tamagotchi style. Instead, Naughty Dog concentrated their efforts on two main characters in order to create the exact characters they wanted. Naughty Dog stated in several interviews that "The character inspiration was more Joe Madureira who did Battle Chasers, the comic book, than anything else." After the release of Jak and Daxter, Naughty Dog was prepared to create a sequel as long as the first did well enough to warrant it. After the game did go on to sell admirably, development of Jak II began shortly thereafter.
|GameRankings||90/100 (based on 70 reviews)|
|Metacritic||90/100 (based on 34 reviews)|
|Official PlayStation Magazine (US)||10/10|
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy has received near-universal critical acclaim. Before its release, Sony Computer Entertainment gave IGN a demo build of Jak and Daxter. After reviewing the demo build for twelve hours, IGN staff member Douglass C. Perry said that "Jak and Daxter is a breath of fresh air; a funny, light-hearted, but no-less epic action-adventure game all its own." Game Informer gave the game a high score of 9.25 out of 10, highly praising its graphics and the absence of load times. IGN listed the game 8th on their list of "The Top 25 PS2 Games of All Time".
After its release in late 2001, the game went on to sell over 1 million copies promoting it to "Greatest Hits" and reducing the price. To date, Jak and Daxter has sold almost 2 million copies (1.97million) in the United States alone.
The soundtrack for this game was produced by Mutato Muzika Studios. The soundtrack features various primitive, yet upbeat characteristics. The playlist for this game may be compared to the Crash Bandicoot series' soundtrack, which was also produced by Mutato Muzika.
- Naughty Dog made a short web-based browser game, The Lost Levels, which was said to be based on the game's early production.
- Three unused power cell descriptions can be found in the game. Those are "DEFEAT THE CAVE BATS", "FIND THE RED VENT SWITCH" and "PROTECT THE MINERS' GEMS FROM THE STUMP". There is only audio proof of the third one, which is Daxter saying stuff like "Protect the gems!" and "We're about to lose a gem!" suggesting it was a mini-game similar to Protect Farthy's snacks.
- Unused speech in the game has Keira saying 18 power cells are needed to fuel the Blue Sage's machine (while a background voice says "or 19") and Daxter saying spider webs break after 2 bounces.
- Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy Naughty Dog's new 3D action/adventure game is... at IGN.com
- Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy at NaughtyDog.com
- ↑ Naughty Dog. Jak II, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy ("The Kid" as an infant being sent into the past. Jak is 15 in The Precursor Legacy according to Jak X profiles.). Sony Computer Entertainment. PlayStation (2001-2005).
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Naughty Dog. Jak X: Combat Racing (character statistics). Sony Computer Entertainment. PlayStation 2 (2005).
- ↑ Jak and Daxter Collection™ Behind the Scenes - Youtube YouTube. PlayStation channel. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Naughty Dog. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (game). Sony Computer Entertainment. PlayStation 3 (2012).
- ↑ Computerandvideogames.com Naughty Dog interview