Meet the PlayStation Move Heroes: Jak and Daxter
Posted by Christopher Ingram
The lighter side of Naughty Dog
PlayStation Move Heroes is now upon us, and we've previously taken a look into the sneaky heroes that are Sly Cooper and Bentley, but now it’s time to head back into Sony’s past to take an inside look at another of PlayStations greatest series – Jak and Daxter. Come with us as well delve into the wacky world of Jak and Daxter, and find out why these two characters are now known as PlayStation Heroes.
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
In the months that lead up to the release of Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, the media was abuzz with hype for the game. This new series was being developed by none other than Sony’s own developer Naughty Dog – now known for its massive PS3 hit Uncharted – then known for their PSone hit series Crash Bandicoot. Fans of Naughty Dogs previous titles not only wanted to get their hands on this new franchise, but rumour had it that the game would also be a game to showcase the power of this new PlayStation 2 console.
In December 2001 Naughty Dog unleashed Jak and Daxter upon the world with tremendous success. The game did indeed showcase the power of the PlayStation 2 by not only having fantastic colourful graphics, but also by giving the gamer the ability to permanently change the games environments as well. Gamers for the first time were brought into the wacky universe of Jak and Daxter — ruled by Precursors (Gods), and containing a powerful element knows simply as Eco. A 3D platformer that pulls gameplay elements from well-known games such as Super Mario 64, Crash Bandicoot and Banjo Kazooie, fans of the platformer genre will feel right at home kicking enemies, double jumping and collecting items to progress the levels.
Jak is a silent head-strong 15 year old boy that often gets himself into a bit of trouble, but not near as much as his sidekick Daxter. Daxter starts off as a redheaded young cowardly boy, and an incident early in the game finds Daxter falling into a vat of Dark Eco, transforming the boy into an Ottsel (half otter, half weasel). While the physical transformation drastically changes his appearance, Daxter is still a coward, but will never admit to it and pulls off many hysterical comic relief moments throughout the series.
Jak absorbs Eco to use for multiple purposes such as health, energy shots, activating machinery and much more. Putting the Eco to good use is vital as evil creatures called Lurkers are out to put to put an end to our heroes with a constant barrage of attacks. Samos the Sage, a master of Green Eco, is a friend to Jak and Daxter and helps them along their way to find a cure for Daxter’s transformation. Starting the journey to find the evil Gol Acheron, Sage of Dark Eco and the single person who holds the key to curing Daxter of his unfortunate transformation, Jak and Daxter will have to collect Power Cells to unblock paths and even utilize a hover bike to get to this evil Sage, but as with all great stories, things don’t always go as planned. Bosses will need to be fought, Sages will be kidnapped, and giant robots will be battled along the way. Making good use of the different Eco types and collecting as many Power Cells possible will find Jak and Daxter heroes that stand victorious over this evil Sage once and for all, or will it?
The duo returns in Jak 2 in 2003, but things aren’t nearly the same as we left them. Jak and Daxter open a portal into another world and fly into it only to find themselves in a segregated dystopia known as Haven City. Jak is captured by the cities guard, and tortured with Dark Eco under the orders of the cities leader Baron Praxis. Jak, drastically changed upon his aided escape by his partner Daxter two years later, has gained supernatural abilities from the constant Dark Eco injections, but these abilities turn Jak into Dark Jak — a beast-like alternate self.
The Baron Praxis reasoning for the Dark Eco injection is to create a super warrior to defend the city from the constant attack from the animal-like creatures known as the Metal Heads. Jak is now out for revenge for the crimes upon him over the last two years, and the war on the city by the Metal Heads creates a constant distraction as the story unfolds itself, twisting to events prior to the first game and even progressing hundreds of years in the future. The constant abuse of Dark Eco by the Baron Praxis means the enemies remain fierce, and only our duo of heroes have the abilities to overcome the evil that has unveiled itself in Haven City.
Not only has the story changed drastically in Jak 2, but so has the gameplay. The platforming elements are still intact, but the game is opened up in sandbox style. The Eco absorbing from the first game is replaced with a rifle, and killing Metal Heads gives Metal Head gems – used for upgrading Dark Jak’s abilities. The use of hovercrafts returns, but this time around there are multiple crafts, and even a hoverboard that can be used for traversing over water and grinding rails throughout Haven City.
The 2004 release of Jak 3 opens with Jak and Daxter being banished to a deadly desert - known as the Wasteland - for supposed crimes he committed in Haven City in the previous game. Near death, the duo is rescued to a city known as Spargus. The duo become connected with a monk temple in Spargus, and learns of a plan to destroy the world that eventually takes them back to Haven City once again.
Haven City is not only being attacked by Metal Heads, but by Deathbots as well. These Deathbots are atrocious beings that are being created by a ship in the sky, that is currently nearing the planet, and a full planetary war quickly unfolds against not only the Deathbots, but with the Metal Heads as well.
Much of the gameplay that was found in Jak 2 returns once again. The Wasteland and Haven City are once again traversed by a multitude of hovercrafts and off-road vehicles, and gunplay and platforming elements are fully intact as well. In Jak 2 we met Dark Jak, but the only hero that can stop an evil the size seen against Haven City is Light Jak – the defensive form of Jak. Overcoming the Dark Eco that is terrorizing the world will test even the skilled platform veterans and the only heroes that could have a chance to stand victorious is our heroes Jak and Daxter.
Other Jak and Daxter Titles
There have been other titles in the Jak and Daxter universe that have been released throughout the years. Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier is a recent PSP game that takes place in the Eco unbalanced world we’ve grown used too, and bring a new element of aerial flight the series. Jak X: Combat Racing is a combat driving game on the PS2, which is set in the world of Jak and Daxter, and continues events within Haven City after the closing of Jak 3. Daxter on PSP gives the sidekick of the duo a chance to be the star of his own game, and takes place in the timeframe when Jak was imprisoned by the city guard in Haven City.
Jak and Daxter are quite the pair of heroes. Jak’s constant issues with his Eco unbalance that pulls him from dark to light, and the one-liner joke spouting, loud-mouthed Daxter helping to keep things humorous throughout this dark series make a great pair of character to draw gamers into their games. The brief overview we’ve given of the games storylines only scratch the surface of how deep the stories truly are in the games, and this depth is sure to keep gamer on edge throughout the series to its entirety. Challenging platforming gameplay, loads of drivable vehicles and tons of evil characters to overcome just add to the fun, and make the entire Jak and Daxter series a fantastic set of games in the PlayStation catalogue. Jak and Daxter are truly worthy of being called heroes, and are a perfect addition to the PlayStation Move Heroes.
PlayStation Move Heroes is now available, and our full review will be up soon. There's still one pair of heroes left to explore in PlayStation Move Heroes — Ratchet and Clank. Don't miss our final article as we explore the galaxies to find out who exactly these two heroes are, and why they are PlayStation Heroes.