Video Game / Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

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"So it seems the answer begins not with careful research or sensible thinking. Nay! As with many of fate's mysteries, it begins with but a small act of disobedience..."
Samos the Green Sage

The debut game of the widely loved Jak and Daxter series, released for the PlayStation 2 in December of 2001.

In this first game, the Heroic Mime Jak and his buddy Daxter travel to the mysterious Misty Island, against the advice of the wise Green Eco Sage Samos. Not long after arriving, Daxter winds up getting knocked into a well of Dark Eco — but instead of being instantly vaporized, he is transformed into a creature called an ottsel, much to his chagrin. Thus the two set off to find a way to reverse the transformation. Unbeknownst to them, their quest will lead them to much bigger problems.

This game could be seen as the PS2's answer to Super Mario 64 (as well as taking a few cues from The Legend of Zelda) — what with the strong emphasis on Collect-a-Thon, run and jump platforming, bright and lively art, endearing characters, and fun levels and puzzles. Then everything changed in the sequel...

Tropes Used In This Game:

  • Baleful Polymorph: During the opening scene, Daxter is turned into an ottsel after falling into a pit of Dark Eco.
  • Blackout Basement: A section of the Spider Cave is blanketed in total darkness, greatly reducing the player's visibility. The path needs to be illuminated by hitting light-generating crystals.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: You only need all but one of the Precursor Orbs to see the last scene. Getting all of the Precursor Orbs in the game earns you nothing.
  • Chokepoint Geography: You have to pass through Fire Canyon, Mountain Pass, and Lava Tube to reach Rock Village, Volcanic Crater, and Gol and Maia's Citadel respectively.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Fire Canyon, although how far it's played straight depends on what's on it.
    • Although both Fire Canyon and the Lava Tube could conceivably just be handwaved as the zoomer's heat shield protecting everyone standing around it since it's invisible, this trope is especially noticeable during the boss battle with Klaww and the Volcanic Crater Hub Level.
  • Cue the Sun: The final boss fight takes place just before dawn. The sun rises during the ending sequence.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Gol and Maia's base of operations is a large Precursor citadel that they've converted to suit their nefarious needs. When you're on Snowy Mountain and see this set of huge towers looming in the distance, it becomes pretty clear where the final level will be set.
  • Excuse Plot
    • Somewhat justified, since Naughty Dogs were more concerned with making a seamless free-roaming 3D world with all cutscenes done in-engine and seamlessly transitioning to and from gameplay......... running on PS2, priority #1. The story was made after a large chunk of the game's world was already finished.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Thankfully averted by the Naughty Dog development team. A glitch can occur in the Precursor Basin on some versions of the game, making it impossible to win the Zoomer race (though this was fixed in the Updated Re-release on the Vita). Thankfully, they made it so that there are 101 Power Cells in the game, and only 100 are needed for the good ending.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Although this game is wholesome and family-friendly, especially compared to its Darker and Edgier sequels, Daxter does say "crap" in the opening cutscene.
    • When you turn on the Blue Sage's gate in Rock Village, watch Jak's facial expression when Keira bends down to look through the telescope...
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Averted. If you hit triangle, Jak will pull his goggles down to give you a first person view. This comes in handy when you come across the yellow eco, which allows Jak to shoot fireballs, as you can aim them.
  • Great Offscreen War: It's implied over the course of the game that Gol and Maia are sending lurker troops to towns over night and ransacking villages for artifacts and eco. Near the end of the game, Keira mentions that they are becoming more and more aggressive now that they are close to their goal. You will never see any of this, however, as most of your adventure is in abandoned ruins and nearby areas outside of town, and in Rock Village, you get there after it happens.
  • Inferred Survival: It is strongly implied at the end of the game that the villains, Gol and Maia, were not truly killed, as Samos states that they are dead, "...probably." Funnily enough, the two never make so much as a cameo appearance throughout the rest of the series, telling us that they truly are no more. Though given that the rest of the series happens hundreds of years later, they probably succumbed to old age.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: A good few of these appear at some point in the game, for example the Fire Canyon and Lava Tube; you need to power up the Zoomer's heatshield to be able to pass through those areas. Then when you get to the Rock Village, you can't proceed to the Mountain Pass because a lurker called Klaww has thrown a flaming boulder in the way. Plus there's the ocean itself: Jak can swim safely in shallow water, but if he tries to go out into the ocean, a Lurker Shark will jump out and eat him.
  • Jerkass: Samos is constantly mean to Daxter.
  • Noob Cave: The first area, Geyser Rock, completely lacks any enemies and has its collectables just lying around for easy pickings. It helps get the player accustomed to the controls in a safe environment, shows what collectables to look out for, and establishes the Eco Power-Up system.
  • No-One Could Survive That: Gol and Maia's demise. Samos even flat out states that they probably didn't survive. That being said, they haven't reappeared in any of the sequels, outside of a cameo Gol gets during one of Daxter's dream sequences in his self-titled game.
  • Playing with Fire: Jak can shoot fireballs from the palms of his hands when he's powered up with Yellow Eco.
  • Plot Coupon: The Power Cells. Specific numbers of them are required to advance through the game.
  • Power-Up: Jak can use Eco (a source of natural energy) to either heal or briefly obtain certain powers. Blue makes him faster and draws in Precursor Orbs and Scout Flies, Yellow lets him shoot fire balls, and Red increases attack power and range.
  • Precision F-Strike: In the opening, Daxter says something about "precursor crap". The game got an E rating in the US and a 3+ rating in the UK. Other than the word "bugger", there's no other cursing in the game.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In a sense, Jak when he uses the Light Eco to blow up Gol and Maia's robot. His entire body is wreathed in shimmering white light except the red lens on his goggles and his blue irises, which makes the Three-Point Landing and resultant Kubrick Stare he pulls just before blowing the robot apart in one shot more striking.
  • Rising Conflict: A quest to help Daxter return to his former self becomes a quest to stop the Big Bad Duumvirate from bringing about The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The device our heroes find at the end of the game.
    • At the end of the game, the Red Sage mentions that Keira could very well become the replacement for Gol; however, this is never mentioned again until The Lost Frontier.
  • Shout-Out: A plant enemy that was present in Naughty Dog's previous series, Crash Bandicoot, appears as a harmless houseplant in Samos' hut.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Conversations with Daxter and Samos tend to involve them taking potshots at each other.
    Samos: Daxter, you finally took a much-needed bath, but in a bathtub filled with Dark Eco.
    Daxter: Look, old man! Are you gonna keep yappin' or are you gonna help me outta this mess?
    Samos: I'm gonna keep yappin', because in my professional opinion, the change is an improvement!
  • Spiritual Successor: Surprisingly, more of one to Spyro than Crash, given the open-world exploration.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Jak can swim in most water and can dive underneath the surface without being timed. He will, however, rise up automatically after a set amount of time. If he's caught below an object that prevents the automatic surfacing, he'll drown when the time runs out instead. It's not a good idea to swim too far out, either...
  • Super Speed: Jak gets a boost of speed whenever he uses Blue Eco.
  • Super Strength: Jak's attack power is doubled whenever he gets charged up with Red Eco, as well as having his physical attack range increased a bit.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss:
    • Klaww. If he didn't do the move where he prepares the huge boulder, he'd be nigh-invincible. note 
    • The Dark Eco Plant extends its leaves for no apparent reason every time its minions are killed, allowing Jak to climb on them and punch the boss in the chin.
  • Take Your Time: It doesn't matter what Jak and Daxter go off and do after Gol activates the Precursor robot he needs to open to the Dark Echo silo, he won't be able to break in until the duo gets to it.
  • Triang Relations: Type 4: Jak and Daxter both have feelings for Keira, but she only has feelings for the former.
  • Underwater Ruins: The Lost Precursor City is an abandoned underwater location. It's still largely intact, with many of the machine still functioning.
  • Weird Currency: Precursor Orbs, items shaped and sized like large eggs, as used as currency to purchase some of the Power Cells.

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