Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date: 12/3/2001 (Ps2), 2/12/2012 (Ps3), 6/18/2013 (Vita)
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I can’t begin to tell you how many chances I have given this game throughout my childhood. When I first tried the game back in 2002 I had no idea what to even do. The game does not give you any hints, there’s no map, and there certainly aren’t any traditional objectives. The story is somewhat entertaining, but it’s cut short due to the short length of the game.
You play as Jak who is just an average dude that gets stuck trying to do…something. Well, eventually you find out you’re trying to find all the mages to open their portals and find out why they are missing. Then Daxter gets himself mixed up in Dark Eco and becomes an ottsel. He’s your sarcastic yet slightly annoying sidekick through the entire game.
The main issue with Jak and Daxter isn’t the story or the fact that you have no idea where to go or what to do. It’s the platforming mechanics. They are sluggish, slippery, and just awful. In fact, I have played worse platformers with better controls. Just simply jumping from platform to platform can be a chore that causes multiple deaths. It also doesn’t help that the platforming segments are excruciatingly difficult. I went from area to area tearing my hair out because the game is so frustrating. Even the mini-games are ridiculously hard and require meticulous memorization and reflexes. Now I don’t want my handheld through the whole thing, but make it fun while also being challenging. The entire game felt like a huge chore.
The whole point of going through these areas is to collect Power Cells. These are needed to progress through the three areas of the game. By the third section you need 73 and there’s 101 in the whole game. That’s a lot of frustrating platforming. To acquire these power cells you need to complete one of the eight objectives in each area. Some require fighting certain enemies while some require finding items or going through a platforming segment. The biggest problem with this is that the levels are so poorly designed. I got lost all the time not knowing where to go or even an indication of where I’m going or what I am doing is part of the objective.
Here’s another big problem with the game. It was one of the last “collect-a-thon” games similar to Donkey Kong Country 64 and various other 3D platformers of the time. Collecting Precursor Orbs to buy power cells is just a chore. I despise collecting like this in a game because to me it feels like an excuse for filler content.
I seriously could not take it anymore after almost getting to the final boss. I spent hours in frustration and anger and probably died over 100 times. Dying wouldn’t be so bad if you had more than three hits before you died and it didn’t take 50 green eco orbs to get a health piece back.
At least the graphics are nice and the game has a nice atmosphere and charm about it. The Vita and PS3 versions have upgraded lighting effects, some texture filtering, and anti-aliasing thrown in for good measure. The game looks pretty decent even for a 12-year-old game.