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...

The Precursor Legacy has received two re-releases, one being a port to the PlayStation 3 and Vita as a part of The Jak and Daxter Collection, and the other being a "PS2 Classics" emulation for the PlayStation 4.

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.
  • Bankruptcy Barrel: The Gambler in Rock Village is broke, forcing him to wear a barrel in lieu of clothing.
  • Blackout Basement: A section of the Spider Cave is blanketed in total darkness, greatly reducing visibility. The path needs to be illuminated by hitting light-generating crystals.
  • Border Patrol: The Lurker Shark kills you if you're in deep bodies of water for too long. It's largely there to prevent you from swimming away from the main areas.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: You only need 100 Power Cells to see the last scene. Getting all 101 Power Cells in the game earns you nothing in the PS2 version. All the other versions have a Gold trophy however.
  • 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: Zig-zagged. While the Zoomer needs special heat shielding to protect it when going through Fire Canyon and the Lava Tube, Jak and Daxter can traverse a couple areas with open lava — like Volcanic Crater — with no ill effects.
  • Cool Bike: Keira's Zoomer bike is a small personal hovercraft akin to a motorcycle. You get to control it in certain sections of the game.
  • Cue the Sun: The final boss fight takes place just before dawn. The sun rises during the ending sequence.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: There isn't a lives system, checkpoints are plentiful, and collectibles are retained if you lose a life, so dying isn't a big deal. The worst thing that might happen is being forced to redo some platforming sections.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • It's perfectly possible, once you've unlocked the Blue Eco Vent for Sentinel Beach, to use that to reach a cannon, shoot the pelican in its nest, and kill it — leaving nothing but the Power Cell it swallowed in its place.
    • The tower the cannon is located on has a few windows. If you look inside, you will see a fairly well rendered room with some storage barrels inside. The chances of you being able to look inside those windows, or even wanting to, are extremely slim, since climbing the tower is hard, and isn't supposed to be done in the first place. Developers did not have to model the room inside the tower, but chose to anyway.
    • After beating the game, Keira will find a gigantic door and says it needs 100 power cells to open. If you've already gotten that many, Daxter will say so.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: This game is drastically different from its sequels in almost every way. The gameplay is a free-roaming collect-a-thon with Eco power-ups rather than a mission-based third-person shooter platformer with guns, the humor and general tone is much more lighthearted and juvenile, with a joyful High Fantasy tone rather than a cynical Grim Dark Cyber Punk future, the plot is a very simplistic good vs. evil affair, the cast of characters is much smaller, and Jak doesn't talk.
  • 11th Hour Superpower: Jak gains access to Light Eco during the final fight.
  • 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: The plot is pretty simple ("go talk to the sages to find out how to turn Daxter back to normal"), existing largely to provide motivation to collect Power Orbs and move on to new areas.
  • Exposition Fairy:
    • Daxter will occasionally spout gameplay hints or instructions.
    • Jak and Daxter are accompanied by one of Keira's drones. It will sometimes pop up to allow Samos or Keira to give instructions through its radio.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: A glitch can occur in the Precursor Basin on some versions of the game, making it impossible to win the Zoomer race. This is fixed in the Updated Re-release on the Vita.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The primary objective to advance the game is to collect Power Cells. There are 101 in total, with 72 needed to complete the game and 100 to unlock the secret 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...
    • Mia not only shows off a pretty decent amount of cleavage, but has noticeable Jiggle Physics as well during some cutscenes, in an E rated game.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Law Of 100: While there are 101 Power Cells in the game, exactly 100 are necessary to unlock the full ending.
  • Lethal Lava Land: There are three volcanic areas in the game. The first is Fire Canyon, the second is Volcanic Crater, and the third is Lava Tube.
  • Lost Superweapon: The Precursor Robot, which Gol and Maia spend most of the game unearthing and repairing.
  • Limit Break: The Light Eco Jak uses in the final fight.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Keira is both beautiful and the daughter of the somewhat eccentric Samos.
  • Made of Explodium: The Dark Echo crystals found in Spider Cave are extremely volatile. All it takes is a slight touch to cause them to explode.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The Dak Eco Plant has a death scene that it shows throwing Jak mid air with its mouth and eating him.
  • Noob Cave: The first area, Geyser Rock, 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.
  • Power Up Mount: Jak can ride a large bird known as a flut-flut in specific sections of Boggy Swamp and Snowy Mountain. The flut-flut grants increased jump height and distance, a slightly slower fall speed, increased land speed, and the ability to break metal crates without needing Yellow Echo.
  • 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.
  • Racing Minigame: Several areas, such as the Lava Tube, require controlling the Zoomer, a personal hovercraft piloted by Jak.
  • 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 secret ending involves Jak and Daxter entering a portal found at the top of the Precursors' citadel, with their fates left unclear.
  • 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:
    • 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.
    • Klaww would be nigh-invincible if he didn't do the move where he prepares the huge boulder.note 
  • 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 machines still functioning.
  • Weird Currency: The main form of currency is Precursor Orbs, items shaped and sized like large eggs.

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