Blast From The Past
Blast From The Past: Jak & Daxter Series

Created by the minds at Naughty Dog, Jak & Daxter series consisted of four main Playstation 2 titles; Jak and Daxter: the Precursor Legacy, Jak 2: Renegade, Jak 3 and Jak X. Jak being the main protagonist in the series, and Daxter being his accomplice. There were also two spin off titles glued on to the side of the series (Jak X combat racing and Daxter).

Jak and Daxter’s original creation wasn’t thought of highly by Naughty Dog. Originally there were only 2 programmers working on the game, whilst the rest of the team worked on Crash Team Racing before being slid over to Jak after the release of the Playstation 2, because they decided that they needed to create a unique character for the console.

After 3 years of production the game was finally released. It had been optimised for seamless performance and contained little to no loading, a great feat for a disc based game at the time. After its release, Naughty Dog said they’d only debate a sequel if the first game sold well enough to warrant it. And that it did.

In the Original Jak and Daxter game, the first cinematic shows our 2 lead roles travelling to Misty Island, a spooky and eerie island away from the mainland which is only accessible by the Fishermans boat. After a comical sequence of events Jak’s friend Daxter gets knocked into a vat of ‘Dark Eco’ and turns into an Ottsel (a hybrid of an otter and a weasel). The rest of the game is dedicated to finding a way to turn him back, which involves travelling over most of the world. Unfortunately, the only guy that can help you ends up being a bad guy, which you destroy in suitable hero-style fashion.

The game actually manages to move seamlessly into the next title, where they are in a futuristic city with flying cars and heavily armed guards patrolling the streets. Then, the third game links that city to another city of rebel fighters in the desert, linked to the original city about halfway through the game. Naughty Dog was genius in the way they managed to make new worlds and challenges in each game, whilst adding a few minor improvements to his armament in each. The original Jak only had his hands and legs to hurt people, and was very successful at it. In the second title, Jak had guns and ‘Dark eco’ abilities, which could be learnt by meeting a wonderful precursor oracle. In the third they improved again, more guns (from 4 to 12 in fact) and white eco abilities, which included healing and flying.

Jak X was a bit of tangent to the series. It was a racing game, but involved characters from all of the original games. It managed to be effortlessly simple to use, whilst always throwing you that inconveniently timed death. The very idea is brilliant, and it was pulled off exquisitely. It should be noted that just like Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot phase ending with a racer, so did Jak & Daxter, can we expect an Uncharted one soon too?

All in all, Jak and Daxter is a timeless classic, something exemplified by the announcement of a HD Collection from Naughty Dog in 2012. For those who haven’t had the sheer joy of playing Jak & Daxter, hopefully this article will have injected the syrupy goodness of knowledge straight into your gaming veins.

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