Jak And Daxter Began Their Adventure 19 Years Ago Today

It all began with a small act of disobedience. It was 19 years ago when two best friends Jak and Daxter went to Misty Island and one of them, unfortunately, fell into a pit of dark ooze and turned into a furball.

Set on a path to figure out how to revert this humorous transformation, the duo collects power cells, precursor orbs, and scout flies to help them on their journey. They also find themselves against siblings Gol and Maia Acheron, who threaten the balance of the world with dark eco.

Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was groundbreaking at the time and was a centerpiece for the PS2 when it released. It features an open world that has few loading screens, if any, and as you explore the world, you can see landmarks from far away. For example, you can view the windmills of Sandover Village from Misty Island and Geyser Rock. Naughty Dog’s second major franchise with Sony also carried more of a narrative focus than other 3D collectathon platformers thanks to its full cutscenes. It wasn’t anything to the scale of The Last of Us, but its story was carried by a funny script and a wonderful chemistry between straight man Jak and his rambunctious sidekick Daxter.

Despite being saddled with inverted camera controls, Jak & Daxter is still very playable today; take this from someone who just played this game a few years ago. The platforming feels very solid with easy to control movements, and its high jump feels extra bouncy and fluid. The ability to roll and jump for extra momentum and speed feels very satisfying. While the combat isn’t as thought out as its sequels, The Precursor Trilogy had a fun spinning kick that had Daxter holding on for dear life on Jak’s shoulders. The animation feels similar to a cartoon-like Looney Tunes and with the power of the PS2 hardware, Naughty Dog was able to give its main characters a more lively presence as opposed to Crash Bandicoot.

Jak & Daxter is also known for its death cutscenes. Whenever Jak fails, Daxter gives him crap as you’re taken into a first-person angle of the feisty furry animal looking down at his fallen friend. In one instance, he says, “Well, uh…better you than me!”

The Precursor Trilogy felt different than its competitors in the market place. The kids who grew up with games like Super Mario 64 and Spyro the Dragon were getting older, and this game from Naughty Dog gave them a more edgy atmosphere that better matches their tastes. It felt darker in tone and the world wasn’t as kind to its main protagonist. Fans would later see Jak & Daxter in a more mature landscape inspired by Grand Theft Auto 3 with the game’s sequel.

The Jak series ended on the PSP with Daxter and The Lost Frontier. It has since been a no show on PlayStation consoles. There has been the occasional re-release like the PS3 collection and the PS2 release on PS4, but no new game or remake has been announced yet. However, the daring duo has been featured in PlayStation Move Heroes and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale during the PS3 era. Their rivals, Sly and Ratchet, since the PS2 days have both received their own new games. Sly 4: Thieves In Time was developed by a new team Sanzaru Games, and Insomniac Games is now working on Ratchet And Clank: Rift Apart, which is using the power of the SSD.

There have been rumors of a new remake from Bluepoint Games, the studio behind the excellent updates of Demon’s Souls and Shadow of the Colossus, but it hasn’t surfaced so far. With all the love behind Crash and Spyro recently, it’s hard not to imagine Jak being a part of that remake party as the Precursor Legacy left a mark on the gaming industry 19 years ago.

We do know that the Jak & Daxter series is still in the hearts and minds of Naughty Dog and PlayStation however. There are a lot of easter eggs within the first The Last of Us and there is a cameo in the PS5 launch title Astro’s Playroom. Jak & Daxter also had a new physical edition through Limited Run Games last year with the proceeds going to charity. Perhaps, one day we’ll see them come back on the PS5.

Next: How Our Shrinking Attention Spans Have Changed 3D Mario Games

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The British “Canadian” Chris Penwell has been a video game journalist since 2013 and now has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from MacEwan University. He loves to play JRPGs and games with a narrative. His dream is to go to E3 and PAX one day and experience the mania of each event!

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