Review by LegendaryFrog
"Pretty standard, but it has heart."
The first game of what would become one of the more diverse platforming series on the PS2 started off as a pretty generic game. I played the original Jak and Daxter after playing its darker sequel, so in many ways its a step back in design. However, it's still a solid platformer, and a very fun and charming one at that.
Jak starts off with a basic set of moves which he keeps, unchanging, for the entirety of the game. In fact, it's all pretty basic. Jak can jump, double jump, long jump, high jump, roll, punch, kick, and swim. That's all a platformer really needs, but it's still pretty limited. You have all the moves you'll ever learn from the moment you start playing.
There are a few power ups you can obtain for a limited time by collecting Eco, a mysterious energy that comes from the planet. Green Eco replenishes life, Blue Eco gives you faster speed and turns you into a magnet. Red Eco increases your power, and Yellow Eco allows you to shoot power from your hands. When these powers come into play, it spices things up a little. Jak can also ride a Speeder Bike and a giant bird called a Fluff Fluff for select areas.
Unlike it's mission based sequel, Jak and Daxter follows the tired and true Mario 64 method of collecting. Jak must collect Power Cells to advance though the game. Other items to collect are Precursor Stones, which are scattered about the world, and Scout Flies, which if you collect 7 you get a Power Cell. Some Power Cells are pretty simple to get... simply reach a certain point and collect it. Some require you to trade Precursor Stones, or complete a certain task. It's all open ended, so you can go about it however you please.
Jak's world is pretty big, and it all flows together seamlessly. One great thing this game does is make you think every level is part of the same world. There are no loading times. The screen will never go black or fade out if your changing levels. The only time this happens is when you enter a warp game. The game does have ways to get around this, like having elevators for loading times. A nice change from Mario and Banjo-Kazooie where the worlds were kept in paintings or portals.
The game moves at a quick pace, and rarely are you stuck on what to do next. And while the game isn't necessary simple, it not especially challenging. Sure, there are some tricky parts or hard to get Power Cells, but over all the normal gamer shouldn't have a lot of problems. To make things worse, this game is pretty short. There's no in game clock, but I estimate its about a 5-7 hour game.
Overall, it's very solid, and the only thing keeping it down is it's short length.
Jak and Daxter is a very pretty game. Bright and colorful, with a style all its own. Character models are a bit dated by today's standards, but it's still nice. Every environment in the game is pleasant to look at and fun to explore. Every standard platforming environment seems to be here: Villages, Jungles, Caves, Snow, Volcano Factories, Swaps... nothing spectacular, but it would have been nice to see a couple unique things.
This game has a cartoony feel to it, especially when compared to it's sequel. Character's have big anime-ish eyes and exaggerated movements. Enemies, while not goofy per say, are definitely cartoony enough to be fun yet menacing. This isn't Banjo or Mario where it borders on childish.
Music in the game is fairly unmemorable but it fits the mood very very well. It's all seamless, and it even changes depending on the situation. (ala Banjo and Donkey Kong 64)
Voice acting is also very well done and is of a high quality. Daniel Snider, Lead vocalist for the 80s metal band, Twisted Sister, even lends his voice talents to one of one the games villains.
Plenty of jokes and fun to listen to.
One place Jak and Daxter folly's is its story. It's not bad, just underdeveloped.
The Game starts off with Jak and His buddy Daxter exploring the Misty Isle, where they discover to villains are gather Dark Eco and planning to spread its destructive power. They are discovered though, and Daxter is accidentally pushed into the stuff... and comes out is a little furry ferret thing called a Ossel.
The premise then is to go North, to a Sage learned in the ways of Dark Eco to turn him back. Along the way you'll meet interesting characters and there is a plot, but it never really played out to it's fullest. Maybe its because the series has become very plot heavy, so the first game is mainly here to set everything up. (Rumors say that Jak 3 will end the story arc with the Precursors, and perhaps make this game fit in a little more.)
The game is fun to be sure, but offers little replay value strait away. If players get 100% of the game completed then they are rewarded with a secret ending, but I haven't seen it. But it's defiantly worth playing again... because it's fun and enjoyable... its just not a game you can pick up and waste time and goof around like Mario or Zelda.
Dispite its great gameplay, Jak suffers from short game syndrome so its over long before you want it to be. Also, the story is kinda weak especially when you compare it it its sequels.
The Jak series is defiantly one of the best series this generation. Even if the first game is lacking where the other games are strong, it's still worth playing. Just be warned it is pretty short, but the polish and production values are very high.
Recommended for platformer fans wanting a delightfully good romp.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 05/28/04
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