Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rank Up! - Jak and Daxter

Did you know that yet another HD collection of games has hit the PlayStation 3 today? It's the Jak and Daxter Collection available for $39.99. It's set to release in PAL territories later in the month. It makes perfect sense to have another Rank Up! segment to greet the Jak trilogy's arrival into HD... well, sub-HD. Anyway, what games will we be ranking this go around?

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2)
Jak II (PS2)
Jak 3 (PS2)
Jak X: Combat Racing (PS2)
Daxter (PSP)
Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier (PS2, PSP)


Before wrongly believing video games should mimic movies as close as possible with the Uncharted series, Naughty Dog had experience with a platforming mascot with Crash Bandicoot on the original PlayStation. After Crash left Sony's hands they had a go of developing their own platformer franchise and that was none other than Jak and Daxter. The series had six unique games developed for it within a relatively short time span. As is usual with Naughty Dog games, the writing was humorous and well done, and the action was enjoyable for the majority of their games.

6) Jak X: Combat Racing (PS2)



As is customary with mascot platformers, one must have a racing game. Jak X: Combat Racing is just that, offering a plethora of modes, tactics, racers, tracks, and unlockables. Hampered by loose controls, floaty and unpredictable physics, obnoxious rubberband AI, and a list of other problems, Jak X is more of an effort in frustration than an enjoyable racing game. Yes, there's enough content to justify the cost of entry, but when the irritation of the playing the title is so high, is it actually worth it? I say no.

5) Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier (PS2, PSP)


When the world's supply of invaluable Eco begins to run dry, Jak, Daxter, and Keira go out on a journey to the edge of the planet in search of new sources. There they meet a band of sky pirates who won't have that. Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier was an entry that landed on both the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. If you have to choose between the two, the PSP version is the way to go. Regardless, when you're not battling against creatures on the ground and performing acts of platforming peril, you'll be flying around in a ship doing battle against sky pirates. One of the weaker entries in the franchise because 1) It was not made by Naughty Dog, 2) It was made on a cheap budget, 3) The camera is finicky, and 4) The game is relatively short, Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier is still a worthy entry in this series that struggled to find an identity and an audience.

4) Jak II (PS2)


Completely selling out the franchise to make it appeal to god-knows-who, Naughty Dog chose to not only change the colorful and cheery setting of the first game, but make Jak chatty and hurl out the occasional expletive. This embarrassing shift in tone made playing Jak II a difficult proposition for me. Add in an empty open-world city to explore, annoying racing missions, the addition of guns as Jak's main means to attack, the ability to transform into a Dark Eco-craving beast, and a lesser focus on actual platforming, and you have the catalyst to what was a great start to a franchise. Leave it to Naughty Dog to miss the point entirely on what makes video games entertaining.

3) Daxter (PSP)


Daxter is a prequel to Jak II. Jak and Daxter entered a new dimension and Jak was imprisoned, subjected to scientific experiments and Dark Eco. This excellent PSP game tells the tale of Daxter, alone in an unfamiliar world, in search of a way to rescue his best bud. The orange ottsel opts to join an extermination gig where he either sprays or gets up close and personal and swats the metal-bug infestation with a fly swatter. With each new job and each new mission, Daxter gets one step closer to discovering how to save Jak from his uncomfortable staying arrangements. In Daxter, the titular hero has the ability to climb up walls, enter areas that an ordinary human wouldn't be able to fit through such as vents, and he can use his spray can to hover over gaps a la F.L.U.D.D. in Super Mario Sunshine. High Impact Games did a wonderful service to the series with Daxter.

2) Jak 3 (PS2)


After getting the sour taste out of my mouth from Jak II, I opened up to idea of Jak being a completely different character from the first game in the franchise. Leaving behind the boring environment and setting of Haven City from Jak II, Jak 3 banishes our hero to a desert wasteland, a much larger place than his previous playground. Jak 3 doesn't sell itself as a platformer at all. Instead it mixes genres completely such as platforming, adventure, puzzle, strategy, racing, and more. Vehicles play a bigger part in the game as crossing the rugged slopes of the desert on foot is essentially suicide. With less frustrating missions than its predecessor, Jak 3 is an excellent and fun romp through multiple gaming genres.

1) Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2)


Games that emulated the open-ended formula of Super Mario 64 were few and far in-between, especially on Sony's PlayStation 2. Naughty Dog's Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy looked to change that. With vast, expansive worlds just begging to be explored, players collected power cells to open up new areas, precursor orbs that needed to be gathered, and multiple secrets to discover, this then new IP offered a fresh take on the Super Mario 64 styled platformer. Jak himself was a mute while the former human turned ottsel from a bath in Dark Eco, Daxter, was Jak's partner and the series's comic relief. The Precursor Legacy continues to be the best game in the franchise, and it does so without selling its soul to be more "mature" or "dark" or "edgy."

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Do you plan on picking up the Jak and Daxter Collection for the PS3 any time soon? For those that have never played the series, it's the perfect opportunity to do so. We'll see you here tomorrow for more SuperPhillip Central goodness.

2 comments:

Parko said...

I've only had the pleasure to play Daxter, but I can easily see it being one of the better entries in the series. I enjoyed playing the game when I had my PSP, but the game kept crashing at the worst times and I could never muster up the will power to complete certain sections over again.

Reggie White Jr. said...

I finally picked up the Jak & Daxter trilogy on the PS2. Still need to get Combat Racing. I heard a lot of complaints about Jak II, mostly over the open world gameplay but I still wanted to check the game out. Depedning on how I like the like the PS2 versions of the Jak & Daxter series will determine if I pick up the PS3 collection.

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