Gaming has a rich history that spans multiple decades. To this end, The Last Word on Gaming Backlog is a series that looks back on titles across all generations. From the golden 8-bit era to the landscape-changing 64-bit scene and beyond, The LWOG Backlog’s aim is history. In this edition, we look at the Jak and Daxter Trilogy, and how it impacted the PlayStation 2.
Jak and Daxter Trilogy Overview
Playstation 2 Staple
Jak and Daxter The Precursor Legacy was released as part of the holiday 2001 lineup for the Playstation 2. Developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment the series branched out into two direct sequels and several spin-off games.
The series became synonymous with the Playstation 2 and along with fellow platformers, Ratchet and Clank and Sly Cooper continued the platforming tradition that started with Spyro The Dragon and Crash Bandicoot on the PlayStation 1.
Jak and Daxter Trilogy Story Line
Jak and Daxter The Precursor Legacy
The first game in the series begins with Jak and his best friend Daxter as they explore Misty Island against the wish of Samos the Sage. While they are there Daxter accidentally falls into a pool of dark eco and is turned into an ottsel (hybrid of an otter and weasel).
The duo returns to Sandover Village and Samos who decides they need to find Gal the Sage of Dark Eco to turn Daxter back. The team of Jak, Daxter, Samos, and his daughter Keira travel to the north to find Gal. Jak and Daxter need to perform a variety of tasks to gain power cells for Keira to power their vehicle across a variety of obstacles. As they reach the villages of the other sages they quickly realize they are all missing.
The team continues to Gol and Maia’s Citadel where they find that Samos has been captured as well. It is revealed that all of the sages have been taken by Gol and Maia who have been experimenting with dark eco and intend to release dark eco from a silo. Jak and Daxter rescue the sages and battle the large excavator being used by Gal and Maia. They are able to destroy its eco weapons but are unable to destroy the machine until the four sages put their powers together to create light eco. Although Daxter would like to use it to revert to his human form, he allows Jak to use it. Jak destroys the machine and sends Gol and Maia into a volcano.
The sages now turn their attention to a precursor door which leads into the events of the second game.
Jak 2 picks up with the characters from the original series ready to open the precursor gate. The gate opens up and a strange figure appears through the gate. The gang flies through the portal and becomes separated. Jak and Daxter land in Haven City a city ruled by Baron Praxis and his right-hand man Errol.
Jak is arrested as Daxter scurries away. Jak is experimented on for the next two years with Dark Eco. Daxter finds Jak after an eco treatment and frees him. As they escape the facility they are greeted by a man named Kor and a child he is protecting. As Jak and Daxter are attacked by the Crimson Guard (Praxis’s army) Jak discovers the eco has allowed him to change into a mutated version of himself with increased powers. They fight off the guard and Kor advises them to join The Underground, a group of fighters led by “The Shadow” determined to free the city from Praxis.
They are met by Torn a lieutenant in The Underground. Torn explains The Baron is at war with the Metal Heads. A creature that dates back to Precuser times. They eventually regroup with Kiera and Samos and realize that The Shadow is a younger version of Samos. They also find the remains of Samos’s hut, meaning they are 500 years in the future. Haven City was built over their old home in Sandover Village. They also begin to compete in racing events. Through this, they learn that Kira is a mechanic for Errol, as they reunite with her. Errol is seemingly killed in a race crash won bu Jak.
Jak and Daxter continue to complete missions for various characters in Haven City such as Krew, a crime boss with ties to The Underground. Onin an elderly soothsayer, Vin a jumpy Underground agent, and Ashelin an underground agent who is waging a war against her father, Baron Praxis.
Jak and Daxter learn that Praxis designed the war with the Metal Heads. He provided them with eco in exchange for them attacking the city to keep Praxis in power. The Metal Heads began to attack the city more which lead The Baron to seek The Precursor Stone. A stone that contains the essence of The Precursors. The Baron wants to use the stone to take out The Metal Heads. If he is successful the power of the stone will also level Haven City. Krew builds a bomb that is strong enough to release the stone’s energy. Jak detonates the bomb too early, killing Krew in the process.
Meanwhile, Keira is building a new machine that will bring them home. Vin is also killed which allows the Metal Heads to cause chaos in Haven City. Jak hunts down The Baron as his men are confronting Kor. Kor is revealed to be the Metal Head leader who brought the gang to the future. Jak kills the Baron who gives the stone to Jak in order to save Haven.
The Krimzon Guard and The Underground team up to fight off the Metal Heads. Jak finds Kor who admits that he was the one who set up Jak to be experimented on with dark eco. The kid that Kor has been protecting is revealed to be Jak, who was sent to the past in order to protect him from the Metal Heads. He is not corrupted with eco yet and is able to unlock the Precursor Stone. A fight ensues and Jak is able to defeat Kor. The younger version of Jak uses the stone to reactivate the rift gate and the Shadow version of Samos brings the child through the gate to ensure his destiny of challenging Kor is achieved. Jak and his friends end at Krew’s bar where they prepare to live out the rest of their lives with their new friends.
Between Jak 2 and Jak 3 the remaining Metal Heads allied with the KG Deathbots to battle The Freedom Leauge, a group of freedom fighters led by members of The Underground.
Jak 3 begins with Jak and Daxter being banished from Haven City by Count Veger. Ashelin escorts them to the middle of the wasteland and hands Jak a beacon. They pass out and are rescued by an unknown group and taken to Spargus City. They awaken to Damas the King of Sprague who informs them they must earn their citizenship in Spargus. The duo also reconnects with Sig, a former employee of Krew’s who is also trying to earn citizenship within Spargus.
Jak and Daxter compete in an arena challenge where they overcome a series of battle trials. They also must assist the citizens in Spargus with various things such as getting wastelanders away from a storm, catching Kanga-rats, and other various things. While exploring the city they come across a Precursor Monk Seem. Seem is attempting to unlock a strange satellite device in which Jak is able to unlock. The satellite gives Jak a dark eco crystal before taking off. The duo also explores a temple in the wasteland where Jak discovers light eco, and gains new powers.
While on a mission in the wasteland for Damas the duo are met by Ashelin admits that she knew Damas still checks his old beacons and would find them. She tries to convince Jak to come back to Haven but he refuses. After seeing what Veger could do to his friends, he changes his mind and returns to Haven to aid the war against the Metal Heads and the KG bots.
Jak and Daxter begin to encounter unknown creatures. They use a Precursor telescope to see that they are Dark Makers. Precursors who were corrupted by dark eco. A purple star in the sky pointed out by Seem earlier in the game turns out to be a ship that is traveling closer. Jak and Daxter first help defeat The Metal Heads and Deathbots in Haven City before heading to the planet’s core to activate a defense system.
The journey to the center is not easy as Damas accompanies the duo. Damas is crushed during battle and asks Jak to find his long-lost son Mar. He shows Jak a picture of the younger version of Jak from Jak 2. Before Jak can tell him he is his son, Damas dies from his injures. Veger then arrives, confirming the story. Veger reveals that he took Jak as a small boy before Baron Praxis banned Veger from Haven City. Jak then follows Veager to the core
Veager is defeated in the core as a Precursor entity tells Jak that he has earned the right to evolve into a Precursor. Veager who was not actually defeated takes the power for himself before Jak can. It is then revealed that the Precursors are actually Ottsels meaning that Daxter has been a Precursor the entire time. Veager is turned into an Ottsel and Jak and Daxter are sent to slow down the ship as the weapon charges.
As the ship slowly breaks apart a Dark Maker vehicle which is commanded by a cybernetic Errol (after his apparent death in Jak 2) lands in the wasteland of Spargus. Jak and Daxter defeat Errol and the vehicle is destroyed.
The Jak and Daxter trilogy concludes with Sig becoming the ruler of Spargus. Jak is offered to leave with The Precursors and appears to take it. As the ship leaves, Jak is revealed to have not gotten on the ship, deciding to stay with Daxter and his friends.
The Jak and Daxter Trilogy games focus heavily on platforming elements. The second entry in the trilogy adds a much more action-oriented style with the introduction of weapons. Jak 2 also expands heavily on the story and explores some darker and more mature elements.
Jak 3 also added more vehicle elements into the Jak and Daxter trilogy. Many of the missions in Spargus saw Jak and Daxter using a wide variety of desert vehicles to explore the wasteland.
The second and third games were much more action-oriented than the original game. The games are largely open world with more sections of the game unlocking as the story progresses.
All three games are played from the third-person perspective. The graphics showed what PlayStation 2 could do and were impressive for the era they were released in. The Jak and Daxter trilogy has been ported multiple times on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4. and PlayStation Vita.
The game utilized an internal clock that simulated a 24-hour day. Each minute of real-time represented about one hour of game time.
The audio stayed consistent depending on the area of the map that was being explored. While staying in one area, the track looped until you traveled to another area.
The three games have lengthy campaigns that offer plenty of replayability. Completionists will have a great time finding every Precorusor Orb, Power Cell, and Scout Fly to unlock the true ending. Jak 2 and Jak 3 also offer hidden Precorusor Orbs to find that can be used to unlock rewards. A Hero Mode is also offered after the first completion of Jak 2 and Jak 3 giving players a fresh perspective to play through.
The trilogy was defining games for the PlayStation 2. The popularity of the franchise has carried into the next generations through ports on the PS3 and PS4. The franchise spawned multiple spin-offs in Jak X Combat Racing, Daxter, and Jak and Daxter The Lost Frontier. Overall the trilogy was a commercial and critical success and is a must-play for any PlayStation, platformer, or action enthusiast.