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Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

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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 initially released in December 2001 for the PlayStation 2 console. In February 2012 and June 2013 it was released 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 around ten years after Jak and Samos Hagai's arrival into Sandover Village after the conclusion of Jak II.[1] It centers upon their mission to stop the legions of lurkers from destroying the world with dark eco. After Daxter falls into a dark eco silo at the forbidden Misty Island, he is transformed from human to ottsel and discovers that he must find the dark eco sage, Gol Acheron, if he has any hope of returning to his previous form. Daxter ultimately has to decide whether to use the elusive light eco to save the world or change himself back.

The game features many platformer challenges with elements from the action adventure and brawler genres. Players are required to collect Precursor orbs and power cells in order to further northward progress. During the quest, new locations are visited, centered upon village hubs, with many new faces requesting of the duo the completion of various missions around the area.



Forbidden Jungle 4

Jak in the Forbidden Jungle.

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is an open world third-person 3D platform game, centering upon Jak, a 5'6"[1] athletically-built human villager, with the ability to perform simple melee attacks such as a sliding punch (squareButton Square), spin kick (circleButton Circle), aerial uppercut (squareButton Square + xButton X), and jumping dive (xButton X + squareButton Square). The player traverses the game's world using Jak by running, jumping (xButton X), rolling (l1Button L1), leaping from a rolling position (l1Button L1 + xButton X), and swimming. The surroundings that the player encounters largely vary, though the main hub locations 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 lurker sharks which act as a boundary defense, keeping players from exploring too far out in the world).

The game requires the player to collect items 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 that 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 rarer, 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.[2] 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.


Blue eco vent

A blue eco vent.

Health meter TPL

Hit-point indicator.

There are four types of eco that 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 effect, 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.[3] 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 previously 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 are encountered 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, and while the player never uses it, Jak grabbed it and threw a stream of it at the Precursor robot during a cutscene.[3]


Due to the game running on the Kinetica game engine, it heavily incorporates racing elements. Jak can use Keira's A-Grav Zoomer, a hoverbike-like vehicle, to travel over normally inaccessible areas. For example, it can travel over water, or lava only in credit to its heat shield. Like Jak, the zoomer is capable of picking up blue eco, green eco, and yellow eco, allowing it to fly faster, repair damage and heal plants, and shoot bolts of yellow eco, respectively.

Another usable vehicle is an animal mount known as the flut flut. It is capable of running considerably fast, gliding over large gaps, jumping to high ledges, and has a single charging attack, powerful enough to break strong boxes.



Sandover Village screen

Sandover Village

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is set on a fictional unnamed planet in the far past, occupied by villages and small settlements, populated with diverse natural environments and ruins from an ancient civilization known as the Precursors which were said to have built the planet long ago.[3] The first and primary hub location is Sandover Village, home of the two protagonists, Jak, a 15-year-old[1] mute, and his best friend Daxter, a 15-year-old[1] 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.


Jak in speedboat

Jak in the speedboat during the opening cutscene.

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.[3] 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.

Volcanic Crater render

Volcanic Crater

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,"[3] 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.

Jak unlocking the rift gate

The large Precursor door.

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 began under the codename "Project Y", as the project was developed by two programmers while the rest of Naughty Dog were working on Crash Team Racing.[4][5] Naughty Dog had previously learned of the PlayStation 2 hardware during development of Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, and were certain that they wanted to create a new IP for the console. Furthermore, during the development of the Crash Bandicoot series, Naughty Dog had been developing games with Universal Interactive Studios under a contract, who kept the rights to Crash Bandicoot after the contract expired. Naughty Dog continued to develop the project, and were purchased by Sony Computer Entertainment as a subsidiary, increasing their budget drastically.[5][6]


We wanted to put you into this beautiful, fully-rendered fantasy world and yet allow full interactive exploration. We wanted no loading, elaborate storytelling, a camera you didn’t need to manually control, and both classic platform and vehicle gameplay.

— Andy Gavin, [7]

At the very beginning, prior to creating the characters, Naughty Dog planned to create a completely seamless, open world environment, with no break from the action and no segmentation.[2] Inspiration was drawn from Donkey Kong Country, Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, which were all games that had expansive, 3D world environments. Naughty Dog differed from these games with a more expansive narrative behind everything, while making the worlds less segmented, to flow together more seamlessly.[7]

Every team member at Naughty Dog drew their vision of the world they could create.[2] The characters of The Precursor Legacy were designed to have an appeal to both Eastern and Western audiences, and as such, drew inspiration from a wide variety of sources. Artwork was inspired both by Japanese anime and manga, as well as Disney cartoons.[5] The characters were named after they were drawn, with Jak eventually given a South African name, suggested by developer Josh Scherr.[6] The characters went through many iterations, with Jak's first drawings showing a more animalistic humanoid appearance.[4] Daxter's animations were inspired by Abu from Disney cartoon Aladdin, and the developers felt that the characters needed a reaction for everything on-screen to make the world more interactive.[2]

One concept was for a third main character, a pet-like character which would develop over time as the game progressed.[5] This idea never progressed far, and was cancelled early on.[7]


This ended up being so much harder than I thought, and is certainly the most sophisticated programming I’ve done in my career.

— Andy Gavin, [7]

When the game begun development, the PlayStation 2 was initially difficult to program for, due to no pre-existing libraries or examples. The game was created using GOAL, a programming language written by developer Andy Gavin. Technologies developed pertained to seamless loading, multiple rendering engines, advanced runtime physics and many animation systems, as they were designed to be responsive to the environment. The developers spent around 20 months on engineering before it was able to produce the levels they wanted.[7] Several processors moved back and forth in order to perform functions, while tools were highly customized by Naughty Dog, and tricks included using the original PlayStation's backwards compatible processor for some tasks.[2]


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.


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, [2]

When porting the game, Mass Media ran into many problems, due to several tricks that were both expected and unexpected behind the game's code. Mass Media attempted to rewrite as little of the code as possible, in order to retain the "essence" of the game. Despite warning the studio that the project would be "impossible", Naughty Dog later commended Mass Media for the project, with designer Evan Wells saying they "did a fantastic job of piecing together that spaghetti".[2]


Critical receptionEdit

Aggregator Score
GameRankings 90/100 (based on 70 reviews)[8]
Metacritic 90/100 (based on 34 reviews)[9]
Publication Score
Game Informer 9.25/10
GameSpot 8.8/10
GameSpy 4.5/5
IGN 9.4/10
Official PlayStation Magazine (US) 10/10

Reaction to Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy has been largely positive, with both GameRankings and Metacritic rating the game 90 score out of 100. IGN commented that the game "is a true 3D platform/adventure masterpiece and one of the top games ever released in the genre, easily on par with some of the all time greats", awarding an overall 9.4/10.[10] GameSpy called the attention to animation detail "astonishing", saying "we can only hope that other developers will try to attain similar levels of proficiency", giving a 4.5/5.[11] GameSpot said that "Next to Rayman 2, Jak and Daxter is the best 3D platformer available for the PlayStation 2", giving the game an 8.8/10. Most reviewers generally praised the soundtrack as on-par with the quality of the rest of the game, though GameSpot noted that this is despite the fact that it "fails to be catchy".[12]

The game has received criticism in some aspects. Many critics have noted that the game is unoriginal in aspects, with GameSpy claiming it "is easy to see that [TPL's] gameplay is not revolutionary, which may cause many gamers to write it off as unoriginal dross."[11] Another complaint the boss battles, with IGN claiming that they were "typically generic battles with simple patterns to learn and not much to do in the way of strategy".[10] Many reviewers also expressed disappointment in the lack of ability to control Daxter.[11][12]


The game won the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition award for First Seamless 3D World in a Console Game for The Precursor Legacy. Daxter also won the award for Original Game Character of the Year at the Game at the Developers' Choice Awards in March 2002.[13]

Commercial performanceEdit

The Precursor Legacy qualified for Greatest Hits status, showing it has sold more than 1 million copies in the US.[14] Additionally, it won the Gold Award for 500,000 units sold in Japan.[13] The game has sold 2.01 million copies in the US alone, as of December 2007.[15]


Naughty Dog said upon release that they would develop a sequel if the reception warranted it,[5] and after the game went on to sell well, Jak II was developed. The Precursor Legacy has been the best performing game in the series commercially and critically, and game has scored highly in many publications' list of greatest games for the system and genre. GamesRadar listed The Precursor Legacy as the 20th best PlayStation 2 game of all time,[16] while Complex listed The Precursor Legacy as 27th best.[17] listed The Precursor Legacy as the 6th best 3D platformer released.[18]

Behind the scenesEdit

  • 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.


External linksEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Naughty Dog. Jak X: Combat Racing (character statistics). Sony Computer Entertainment. PlayStation 2 (2005).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 YoutubeJak and Daxter Collection™ Behind the Scenes - Youtube YouTube. PlayStation channel. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Naughty Dog. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (game). Sony Computer Entertainment. PlayStation 3 (2012).
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Evolution of Naughty Dog, Part 2: Jak and Daxter (18 February 2015). PowerUpGaming. Power Up Gaming. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Interview with Naughty Dog staff (26 December 2001). PSXemtreme. Arnold K (SolidSnake). Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 IGNRising to Greatness: The History of Naughty Dog, page 10 (4 October 2013). IGN. Colin Moriarty. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Behind the Classics: Jak and Daxter (August 24, 2012). PlayStation. Fred Dutton. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  8. The Precursor Legacy GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  9. The Precursor Legacy Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  10. 10.0 10.1 IGNJak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy review (December 4, 2001). IGN. David Zdyrko. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy review (December 15, 2001). GameSpy. Barak Tutterrow. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy review (December 4, 2001). GameSpot. Shane Satterfield. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Naughty Dog pawNaughty Dog Timeline Naughty Dog. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  14. PlayStation website Jak search results PlayStation. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  15. US Platinum Videogame Chart the-magicbox. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  16. GamesRadar Best PS2 Games GamesRadar. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  17. [1] Complex. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  18. Top 10 3D Platformers@4m30s   (11 June 2015). YouTube. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
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