When asked to name the best game ever, it’s never an easy choice. But what if you were asked to talk about a game that has a special place in your heart? “Why I Adore” gives us a chance to express why a particular game stands out amongst the rest, and maybe, just maybe, help readers fall in love with a game they otherwise wouldn’t have experienced.
Tell us about the game.
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (referred to as Jak and Daxter henceforth) is a platform game from way back in 2001 for the PlayStation 2 by developers Naughty Dog. You play as Jak, the silent, pointy-eared protagonist who is accompanied by his faithful friend Daxter, who sits on Jak’s shoulder and serves as the game's comic relief.
You go between levels in this sprawling, interconnected world, searching for enough “power cells” to unlock the next hub area. Each section of the game has a set number of collectibles (power cells, precursor orbs, and scout flies), as well as characters to assist or vehicle sections to race through. There’s a lot of variety here for a platformer, and it really showcased the leap in technology from the PlayStation to the PlayStation 2.
What drew you to the game?
This may be an odd reason to become interested in a game, but honestly other than seeing my dad play it for the first time, the instruction manual (remember those?) was the biggest factor. Jak and Daxter’s manual was a little different from what you’d normally find; it unfolded into a poster with some gorgeous concept art and a map of the world you were about to explore.
Did you play this at an important point in your life?
I wouldn’t call it an important part of my life; the game came out when I was 11, so I was still a carefree primary school child whose only worries were things like spelling tests or trying to hunt down that elusive shiny Charizard Pokémon card. Even at such a young age videogames were my life, with titles like Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot being among those I played again and again. I think the biggest aspect of this point in my life was my dad getting a PlayStation 2, which sounds silly to call important but we played games together a lot, so it was great to have a new console and new set of games to play!
He bought three games with the shiny new console: Final Fantasy X, SSX Tricky and Jak and Daxter. Immediately, the only game I was interested in was Final Fantasy X, and what an utter joy that was to play! But watching my dad play Jak and Daxter, I was reminded of all those incredible PlayStation platformers and set aside my precious FFX for some light-hearted fun.
Have you played it since? If so, how many times?
It’s definitely the game I’ve completed more than any other. I’ve achieved 100% the PS2 version at least four times, collecting everything in the game and unlocking the secret ending. The PS3 HD re-release I’ve finished twice, making sure to get the admittedly rather easy platinum trophy. It’s not a particularly long game, but the gameplay is so slick, the soundtrack is great, and visually it still holds its own (thanks to the colourful, cartoony style), so Jak and Daxter is a game I can return to countless times. In fact, I introduced my partner to the game last year, and ended up playing through it again with her.
What makes it special to you?
Jak and Daxter is at the top of a very short list of games that my dad and I will chat about on occasion. Usually about how fun it was to play, which levels were tricky, the vehicle sections being the parts of the game we both sucked at, and even how his wife played it through to completion—the only videogame to this date that she’s ever played!
Whilst he eventually lost his love for gaming, every now and then we’ll reminisce about some games we used to play together. Jak and Daxter always has us smiling, and in an adult world of taxes and overdue rent, smiling is something I don’t do enough of.
Does it make you think or feel anything?
No matter how many times I play through Jak and Daxter, I always get a feeling of nostalgia that takes me back to being a happy young kid, enraptured with this vibrant world full of undiscovered mysteries. It isn’t an overly difficult game, so I always feel calm when playing, and as it’s a collectathon you’re always getting a small sense of achievement whenever you find your next “power cell''.
How would you sell this game to newcomers?
This is a fairly easy game to recommend; the majority of gamers I know have enjoyed at least one platform game. But other than just comparing it to other collectathons like Banjo-Kazooie, I’d speak of how well it plays, the practically non-existent loading times, how loveable Daxter is despite every other character taking a dislike to him, and how surprisingly detailed the world is. Even at 20 years old, the visuals still pop and the music still bangs. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is absolutely oozing with charm.
So that’s why I adore Jak and Daxter! Have you played it? If so, what did you think? Let’s get a conversation going on why Daxter is the best sidekick in gaming history!