Jak and Daxter

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Jak and Daxter
Jakanddaxterlogo.gif
The original logo for the series.
Genres Platform
Developers
Publishers Sony Computer Entertainment
Creators
Platforms
Platform of origin PlayStation 2
Year of inception 2001
First release Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
December 3, 2001
Latest release Jak and Daxter Collection
June 18, 2013

Jak and Daxter is a video game franchise created by Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin and owned by Sony Computer Entertainment. The series was developed by Naughty Dog with a number of installments being outsourced to Ready at Dawn and High Impact Games. The first entry in the series was one of the earliest titles released on the PlayStation 2 and is regarded as one of the console's defining franchises.

The games are considered story-based platformers that feature a mixture of action, racing and puzzle solving. The series is set in a fictional universe that incorporates science fantasy elements, and centers on the titular characters as they try to uncover the secrets of their world and unravel the mysteries left behind by an ancient race of Precursors.

The first three games in the series have been re-released on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita as part of a remastered collection that includes support for the PlayStation Network and the PlayStation Suite. The remastered collection was handled by Mass Media Inc. with Naughty Dog assisting with the conversion of the games.[1] The series has also produced various forms of merchandise.

Games[edit]

Main series[edit]

Title Details

Original release date(s):
  • JP December 20, 2001
  • NA December 4, 2001
  • EU December 7, 2001
Release years by system:
2001 – PlayStation 2
2012 – PlayStation 3
2013 – PlayStation Vita
Notes:
  • Developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.
  • Re-released as part of a high-definition collection.



Original release date(s):
  • JP March 11, 2004
  • NA October 14, 2003
  • EU October 17, 2003
Release years by system:
2003 – PlayStation 2
2012 – PlayStation 3
2013 – PlayStation Vita
Notes:
  • Developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.
  • Re-released as part of a high-definition collection.
  • Released as Jak II: Renegade in Europe.



Original release date(s):
  • NA November 9, 2004
  • EU November 26, 2004
Release years by system:
2004 – PlayStation 2
2012 – PlayStation 3
2013 – PlayStation Vita
Notes:
  • Developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.
  • Re-released as part of a high-definition collection.
  • The game was not released in Japan.



Original release date(s):
  • JP November 19, 2009
  • NA November 3, 2009
  • EU November 20, 2009
Release years by system:
2009 – PlayStation Portable
2009 – PlayStation 2
Notes:
  • Originally developed by High Impact Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PSP.
  • Re-released for the PlayStation 2.
  • The Last Jak & Daxter Game to appear on the PlayStation 2.


Spin offs[edit]

Title Details

Original release date(s):
  • NA October 18, 2005
  • EU November 4, 2005
Release years by system:
2005 – PlayStation 2
Notes:
  • Developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.
  • Released as Jak X: Combat Racing in Europe.
  • The game was not released in Japan.
  • This is the last game created by Naughty Dog.



Original release date(s):
  • NA 14 March 2006
  • EU April 13, 2006
Release years by system:
2006 – PlayStation Portable
Notes:
  • Developed by Ready at Dawn and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.
  • The game was not released in Japan.


Other games[edit]

Title Details

Original release date(s):
  • JP March 24, 2011
  • NA March 22, 2011
  • EU March 25, 2011
Release years by system:
2011 – PlayStation 3
Notes:
  • Developed by Nihilistic Software and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.
  • Known as Gachinko Heroes in Japan.



Original release date(s):
  • NA February 7, 2012
  • EU February 22, 2012
Release years by system:
2012 – PlayStation 3
2013 – PlayStation Vita
Notes:
  • Developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.
  • The port was handled by Mass Media Inc.
  • The game was not released in Japan.
  • Known as The Jak and Daxter Trilogy in Europe.


Development[edit]

Naughty Dog began creating a new game shortly after the release of the sixth-generation of consoles. Only two programmers were originally allocated to the project as the rest of the department were still developing Crash Team Racing. They began by designing a new graphics engine that would be capable of rendering a seamlessly connected, open world environment. They then developed a fully articulated character to examine the engines efficiency before presenting the idea to Sony Computer Entertainment following the completion of Crash Team Racing.[2][3]

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy had a budget of $14 million and a development cycle that lasted nearly three years.[4] In that time, they managed to create a fully interactive world and conceived a narrative that would allow for more meaningful character development. The two central characters also went through a rigid design process that took inspiration from both Manga and Disney animation. They had initially planned on introducing a third character who would evolve as the game progressed in a Tamogotchi-style fashion. However, this idea was scrapped as it led to several unnecessary complications. The games soundtrack was recorded at Mutato Muzika Studios, and was produced by Mark Mothersbaugh and composed by Josh Mancell.

Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier was originally planned as a PlayStation Portable exclusive and was in the process of being developed by Naughty Dog when it was cancelled.[5] Evan Wells revealed that they were unable to sustain the games development alongside Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and made the decision to pass the project onto High Impact Games. Naughty later acknowledged:

"If we had had to do it all over again, we would have done some things differently in the execution of The Lost Frontier. I’m not happy with that being Jak’s swan song. I think we could have done a lot better.”

— Sam Thompson, producer at Naughty Dog and Sony Computer Entertainment.[5]

Engine[edit]

The engine for Jak and Daxter was created from the ground-up specifically for the game. Unusually for most games, Naughty Dog invented a new programming language, GOAL, which was only ever used for the Jak & Daxter series.[6]

Gameplay[edit]

Jak in dark mode.

The Jak and Daxter series is primarily a story-based platformer presented in the third person perspective. The player can explore a multitude of different areas in an open world environment and can perform several melee attacks. A substance called Eco can also be manipulated to enhance the players abilities. One ability is called Dark Jak. This allows you to reach down inside and kick metal head butt. A hover bike and a large bird species are also available for transportation and to gain access to hard to reach places. Power cells and Precursor orbs are required to advance the story in The Precursor Legacy, while completing story related missions unlock new locations in all subsequent entries.

Shooting elements are introduced in Jak II, which feature customisable weapons and other varied forms of combat. Several features from the previous game also expanded upon. Daxter is also a playable character and features in several Crash Bandicoot-esque missions. Dark Eco powers also become available, which is countered by the introduction of Light Eco powers in Jak 3. Driving becomes a core ingredient and is further expanded upon in Jak 3. In The Lost Frontier aerial combat is integrated into the series. Precursor orbs can be collected in each game to unlock cheats.

Jak X deviates from the series more traditional style of gameplay, and is based on the driving mechanics developed for Jak 3. Several extras can be unlocked for Jak X and Daxter by linking up the save files from the two respective games, and several player skins can be unlocked if the player has save files from The Precursor Legacy, Jak II, Jak 3 and Insomniac Games Ratchet: Deadlocked.

Setting[edit]

Jak and Daxter is set in a fictional universe. The first game takes place in a world brimming with various natural environments that are encompassed by village settlements, and ancient Precursors ruins can be found dotted throughout the landscape. An elemental substance called Eco is prominent throughout the game and is considered the worlds life source. Subsequent entries are set in a future setting that has witnessed large advancements both society and technology. There are many distinct and differing environments available to discover and explore.

Characters[edit]

The two main characters of the series in their first appearance

The Jak and Daxter universe is populated primarily by a humanoid elf-like species. Jak is the main protagonist of the series, and is playable in every game with the exception of Daxter. In The Precursor Legacy he accidentally turns Daxter into an ottsel (a fictional hybrid of an otter and weasel) and sets out to undo the transformation. In Jak II, he is infused with Dark Eco due to experimentation's performed by Baron Praxis, and in Jak 3 he is blessed with Light Eco by the Precursors. In Jak X, he is forced to race in the Kras City Grand Championship in order to save his life. He later travels to The Brink to investigate the Eco shortage that is ravaging his world in The Lost Frontier.

Daxter is the secondary protagonist from the series. He is Jak's sidekick, and is often found getting into trouble, which results in him turning into an ottsel. He rescues Jak at the beginning of Jak II, and becomes playable intermittently for the first time in the series. In Jak 3 his role is expanded, and he gets a pair of pants as a reward for his efforts, as was an ongoing gag in the game. In Daxter, he details his adventures in the two-year time span before he managed to break Jak out of prison. In Jak X, he accompanies Jak and his friends to Kras City, and assists them as they compete in the Kras City Grand Championship. He later travels with Jak and Keira to The Brink in The Lost Frontier.


Critical reception[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2) 90.22%[7] (PS2) 90[8]
Jak II (PS2) 87.93%[9] (PS2) 87[10]
Jak 3 (PS2) 85.33%[11] (PS2) 84[12]
Jak X: Combat Racing (PS2) 77.01%[13] (PS2) 76[14]
Daxter (PSP) 86.35%[15] (PSP) 85[16]
Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier (PSP) 72.84%[17]
(PS2) 69.50%[18]
(PSP) 71[19]
(PS2) 72[20]

The series has received positive reviews from critics, who called it "the best action platformers of (that) generation".[5]

IGN gave praise to the "huge worlds, memorable characters, action packed stories, and great gameplay."[5]

GameSpot gave similar praise, saying "its tight execution and heavy action elements ensure that things never become dull", and that "it manages to provide a rewarding gameplay experience that shouldn't be missed."[21]

Game Informer noted "the series was driven by a restless sense of innovation", praising "Naughty Dog's work in this franchise (for creating) great characters, finely tuned gameplay, and a unceasing inventiveness", and felt "the Jak games stand up as epic adventures."[22]

Eurogamer stated that "the Jak and Daxter series may not be as solid a platformer as Sly Cooper and its gunplay isn't as refined as Ratchet & Clank '​s – but in terms of ambition, invention and grandiosity, it remains leagues above its last-gen platforming brethren". They further stated : "The Jak and Daxter series remains a fascinating document of the evolution of the action adventure; its heroes are unstuck in time, without a genre to call home. No series has been so willing to switch gameplay styles with such reckless abandon, and The Jak and Daxter Trilogy represents a shining example of what happens when a capable developer takes a huge risk."[23]

Merchandise[edit]

Naughty Dog have released various forms of merchandise since the series inception. These include strategy guides for each game, several forms of clothing and collectible figures[24] A limited edition Precursor orb was also released to celebrate the series 10th anniversary.[25]

Miscellaneous media[edit]

The Jak and Daxter series has been featured in a variety of other media since its inception.

Future[edit]

Evan Wells revealed that they had explored the idea making a new game extensively before the development began on The Last of Us.[26] Creative director Neil Druckmann later unveiled several illustrations for the abandoned game at a conference for The Last of Us. He explained that they had planned on making a reboot of the series and had spent a long time exploring various concepts.[27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Eddie Makuch. "Jak and Daxter Collection hits PS3 February 7". Gamespot. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Stephen White. "Postmortem: Naughty Dog's Jak and Daxter: the Precursor Legacy". Gamasutra. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  3. ^ Arnold K (SolidSnake). "Interview with Naughty Dog staff". PSXemtreme. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ Colin Moriarty. "Rising to Greatness: The History of Naughty Dog Page 9". IGN. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d Colin Moriarty. "Rising to Greatness: The History of Naughty Dog Page 13". IGN. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Behind the Classics: Jak & Daxter". SCEE. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Jak II Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved April 18, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Jak II Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved April 18, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Jak 3 Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved April 18, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Jak 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved April 18, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Jak X: Combat Racing Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Jak X: Combat Racing Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Daxter Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Daxter Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  21. ^ Satterfield, Shane (December 7, 2001). "Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy Review, Page 2 - GameSpot.com". Uk.gamespot.com. Retrieved March 4, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Jak and Daxter Review". GameInformer. Retrieved January 5, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Jak and Daxter Trilogy Review". EuroGamer. Retrieved January 5, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Check out this sweet new Jak and Daxter statue". Destructoid. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Sony sends orb to celebrate Jak & Daxter's 10th birthday". Destructoid. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  26. ^ Robert Purchese. "Naughty Dog: A new Jak & Daxter would do everyone a disservice". EuroGamer. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  27. ^ Leon Hurley. "Naughty Dog’s Jak & Daxter reboot". PlayStation Official Magazine. Retrieved January 29, 2014.