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Jak and Daxter series

Jak and Daxter series' logo

The Jak and Daxter series is a successful science fantasy video game franchise originally developed by Naughty Dog for the PlayStation 2, then by Ready At Dawn for the PSP and most recently High Impact Games for the PS2 and PSP. Currently, six games in the series have been released, with Jak as the primary playable character in all except Daxter for the PSP. The latest game, The Lost Frontier released November 3, 2009.

Setting

The games in the Jak and Daxter series take place on an unidentified planet similar to Earth, populated by a humanoid elf-like species. Over time, history and technological knowledge has been lost to the present population, as much of the landscape and artifacts found are attributed to "Precursors", alien beings of myth of which very little is known. As a result, while the population may seem technologically advanced, they have been able to determine how to use these ancient people for their benefit, but not to create any significantly new technology. Outside of civilization are many monsters, and thus the population tends to live in isolated areas or well-fortified cities to protect themselves from the wild creatures.

A mysterious gaseous or liquid material called "eco" exists throughout the world. eco comes in numerous varieties identified by color, but can have various effects. green eco can provide health benefits, blue eco can increase one's speed, red eco increases one's strength, and yellow eco allows the player to shoot fireballs. There is also dark eco which is extremely dangerous, harming most of those who touch it, and can have significant effects due to long contact, as it had on Daxter, changing him from humanoid into an "ottsel" (a cross between an otter and a weasel) after he was accidentally submerged in the liquid. There is a sixth called light eco. It is apparently a combination of green, blue, yellow and red eco.

Common gameplay features

While there was a significant jump in gameplay between the first and subsequent games of the series, and significant deviation with both Jak X: Combat Racing and Daxter, much of the series shares common gaming elements.

The Jak and Daxter series is primarily a platformer, requiring the player to control Jak or Daxter in jumping puzzles to reach a final goal while avoiding enemy attacks. The controlled character can only take a few hits before he is down, though health can be recovered using green eco. Both characters can double-jump to cross large gaps or reach higher platforms. Jak and Daxter can perform several melee attacks in combination with their jumping skills.

Games

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

Jak and Daxter from TPL (render)

Jak and Daxter

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is the first video game in the Jak and Daxter series. Set on an unnamed planet, the two characters begin the game as elf-like mischief-makers who are directly disobeying the advice of the Green Sage, Samos. He has warned them to stay away from a mysterious island called Misty Island, home to a legion of creatures known as Lurkers. There, the two discover a pair of villains who are using the Lurkers to fulfill an evil plan involving the substance known as dark eco. A Lurker commander attacks them and by accident, Jak throws a red eco precursor artifact at the Lurker and the ensuing explosion sends Daxter into a pit of dark eco, which transforms him into an orange Ottsel (half otter, half weasel). The story unfolds as the duo adventures to find Gol Acheron (ak-er-on), a sage of dark eco who may have the powers to help Daxter return to normal, as well as fight the menace of Lurkers. Throughout the game, Daxter jokes about Jak being a mute; however, in Jak II and Jak 3, Jak's personality becomes much darker and more mysterious and he utters more than just lighthearted phrases.

Similarities to platform games such as Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper and Crash Bandicoot. This is true in not only the similar styles of gameplay, but in that the ongoing objective is to complete specified tasks and collect items. The game is different, however, by way of the openness and flow of the game world and its common mechanic of utilising eco, a substance which has various uses in both gameplay and story. Here, the completed goals give Power Cells as a reward upon completion, which are needed to progress to new areas in the game world. If 100 out of 101 are collected, an alternate, canonical ending is given.

Daxter

Daxter takes place directly after the prologue of Jak II when the duo first arrive in Haven City, Daxter follows the story of the so-named hero during the years that his buddy Jak was imprisoned. Daxter is involved in an adventure all on his own to save Haven City from dastardly Metal Bugs. Daxter's primary weapon in the game is a fierce electric fly-swatter. In the story, Daxter is hired by an exterminator named Osmo. A plot is unfolding in which the Metal Heads start to infiltrate the city with the Metal Bug outbreak. After a series of misadventures, Daxter eventually partially overthrows Kaeden and the Metal Bugs and rescues Jak. Then the events of Jak II take place.

Jak II (Renegade)

Jak II begins where the storyline left off at the end of the first game. The giant Precursor Ring Jak and his friends uncovered has been moved to Samos' hut. When it is activated by Jak, he, along with Daxter, Keira, and Samos are confronted by a giant, fierce creature. They escape into the ring and are transported to the hustling and bustling, as well as segregated, dystopia called Haven City. Keira and Samos disappear, and, immediately upon arrival, Jak is captured and imprisoned by the Krimzon Guard, the police of the city, for unknown reasons. Daxter escapes, promising to save Jak soon (Daxter (game)). For two years, Jak becomes a guinea pig of dark eco experiments, which breaks his gentle "silent hero" persona and creates an infuriated and embittered personality in him. These experiments are conducted by Baron Praxis, the tyrannical ruler of Haven City, in an attempt to create a super-soldier capable of defeating the Metal Heads, creatures that are threatening the destruction of the city. After finally escaping from prison with Daxter's help, Jak and Daxter join a group known as "The Underground," whose aim is to overthrow the oppressive Baron Praxis and restore the heir apparent. Jak begins his mission to bring down Baron Praxis and destroy the Metal Heads.

Jak II makes a radical departure from the first game in both tone and gameplay. The environment of Haven City has a grittier, run-down tone that differs dramatically from the colorful areas of the first game, and the characters are generally more hostile, using slightly more mature language.

Jak 3

Jak and Daxter 3

Jak and Daxter in Jak 3

In the next installment, Jak 3, a massive three-sided war breaks out in Haven City between the Freedom League (the city's new police force, headed by members of the former Underground), an emerging army of Krimzon Guard Death Bots who are led by Errol (who apparently survived from Jak II), and the Metal Heads, regrouped survivors - Jak is thrown out into the Wasteland by Count Veger, head of the city council and one of Baron Praxis's last remaining lieutenants. They have been outcast from Haven, and found by Damas, Ruler of Spargus, a formerly unknown city of outcasts in the wastelands.

As Jak and Daxter work to fulfill the life debt they owe to the city and Damas, they learn that the planet's end is coming, from a harbinger of destruction known as the Day Star. The answer to this impending danger is a planetary defense system, which lies deep in a place known as the Catacombs. As Jak and Daxter work to find their way to this place, so too does Count Veger, who is taking dangerous steps to find the Precursors there and receive great power so that he may live out his fanatical dream of becoming a hero of the universe. When Jak and Daxter make their way back to Haven City, it falls on their shoulders to destroy the Metal Heads and the KG, make their way to the Catacombs before Veger and save the world from the Day Star (Dark Maker's ship).

Jak X (Combat Racing)

Jak in Jak X render

Jak as he appears in Jak X: Combat Racing

In this title, Jak X: Combat Racing, Jak, Daxter, Samos, Keira, Torn and Ashelin along with new character, Rayn (Krew's daughter) are summoned to the pre-recorded holographic reading of the late crime lord Krew's will in Kras City. After the holographic recording of Krew gives a toast, Rayn brings out an old wine vintage that had been preserved for the occasion. After all have drunk the wine, it is revealed by Krew that they been poisoned and to get the antidote they must race for him in the Kras City World Championship. Krew's team is pitted against the mercenary racers of rival crime lord Mizo. New characters include race commenator, G.T. Blitz, retired foreign racer, Mizo and surviving Krimzon Guard Death-Bot racer, UR-86.

As they race, Razer keeps on threatening Jak and Daxter that Mizo and his team will win. Eventually he goes out of retirement and joins forces with Mizo's team just to beat Jak. Later in the game, old faces return to aid/threaten Jak's team for different reasons; like Sig, the new king of Spargus after Damas' demise, comes to help his unlucky friends out on the track despite he (ironically) missed the meeting that would have poisoned him because of his reigning duties; Kleiver, a demanding and shallow Wastelander who wants to even the score between him and Jak which settled during the events of Jak 3 (whether Jak liked it or not) and Pecker, who is now the co-host of G.T Blitz's show, much to Blitz's dismay.

Eventually Jak manages to rise through the ranks and beat both Razer and UR-86. After Jak's car is sabotaged, Keira and the others find out that they were the same weapons used to kill G.T. Blitz's own father. They tell Blitz about this, but remain surprised that Blitz wasn't in the least bothered about both the tight situation and the participants safety. Later on, an important call comes in from the gang lord Mizo, telling them to back off from the race when they still had the chance. Since none from Jak's team had a choice to participate the championship race in the first place (with the exception of Sig), Jak declines the 'offer' in his team's name. Near the very end of the game G.T. Blitz states that a new unknown driver is on the track for the final race. Almost immediately it is known that the 'phantomatic' driver is no other than Blitz himself.

After Jak and co. finally win the final race, thus achieving the antidotes for the poison and winning the Kras City World Championship race for Krew, G.T Blitz snaps. Blitz reveals to over 2 million spectators (unknowingly to him) that he was the infamous crime lord, Mizo himself, then proceeds by stealing the antidotes and dashes away from the race. Jak then hunts him down in order to retrieve the vaccines needed for him and his friends to live. After retrieving said antidotes, Mizo was literally left to be blown up to bits. Everyone is saved from being killed by poisoning, but Rayn is hiding more than one thought, and that there is more to the story. In the end when everyone has been cleared of the poison, Rayn congratulates them and leaves Krew's will behind her. It reveals that she knew about the poison all along and that she manipulated them in her father's fashion. She waited a few seconds before drinking the wine so the poison was disintegrated before it had a chance to effect her. Despite the clear betrayal, none seem to be too fazed by it and all continue the celebration. During the final scene, Jak and Keira finally kiss.

Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier

Jak and Daxter TLF

Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier is set after the end of Jak X. There is a shortage of all the ecos except Dark, which is flourishing with the other ecos no longer present, so much in fact, its toxins are spreading worldwide, slowly poisoning and polluting the entire globe. Amongst this global catastrophe, Keira sets out to prove herself and become a sage by saving the world from dark eco and the evil forces behind it, journeying to the edge of the world, the last place the Precursors didn't finish in the making of the universe, filled with nothingness, half-completed areas ('islands') and extremely high levels of dark eco. Jak and Daxter are forced to go with her and keep her safe from danger, traveling by airship to the brink of the world. Together they go island-hopping, hoping to find eco that they can bring back to the mainland and distribute world-wide, thus ending the shortage, getting hunted by air pirates and robots along the way. At the end, Jak and Daxter are able to restore balance to the eco Core, the source where all eco flows. Jak and Keira kiss at the ending scene.

Jak and Daxter: Trilogy

A bonus disc was given out by Sony Computer Entertainment in a special promotion. The Complete Trilogy Movie DVD gives gamers a recap of the Jak and Daxter series with a run of scenes from the game franchise. The 90 minute movie is about the exploits of Jak and his famous sidekick Daxter, who also provides the cinematic narration. There is also a behind-the-scenes look at Jak X: Combat Racing, a fully playable demo, developer interviews, and footage of Daxter's game on the PSP.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

Jak and Daxter appear as a whole playable character. One of the stages featured is Sandover Village, where Keira and Samos appear. The Rift Ring, Rift Rider, Precursor Orbs, and Lurker shark also appear on Sandover Village.

Abblogo The Precursor Legacy
Jak II logo
Jak 3 logo
Gameplay
Gameplay

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