02 October 2012

Remembering Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

Naughty Dog's first game on the PlayStation 2 was an impressive technical affair. It was a continuous world without a single loading screen. That would pose most developers a significant challenge today never-mind ten years ago when it was it released.

And yes even with the HD upscaled graphics of the PS3 Trilogy pack the game can look crude by today's standards and with it's bright colourful tones childish too. But for me The Precursor Legacy is the best game in the series and one of the greatest platformers ever to hit any PlayStation console.

There are two core reasons for this. The first is simple nostalgia. I didn't grow up with Mario or Link, I grew up with another of Naughty Dogs' creations, Crash Bandicoot. Yet in those days I was too young to really know or care who developed what (though I recognised the paw print logo the studio uses to this day). Indeed the first I knew of Jak & Daxter was when a friend brought it around.

I bought it the next day and while I fondly remember both Jak 2: Renegade and Jak 3 the original adventure has the most enduring appeal.

This is due to the second reason the game remains such a fantastic platformer: it was one game in the series that focused on that above all else, that was a platformer above all else.

Yes Jak 2 & 3 developed much more complex stories (aided in part by Jak acquiring the ability to speak), but they added elements which went some way to distracting from the core platforming mechanics. There were shooting elements in The Precursor Legacy - with yellow eco - but it was a bit part, as was the racing sections.

Both became primary factors in the later games.

The Precursor Legacy was the purest game and, I think, it was the best. From the Forbidden Jungle to the Lost Precursor City Naughty Dog created a dynamic world.

Uncharted may be the franchise most associated with Naughty Dog today but the team now working on The Last of Us did consider continuing the series. I hope Sony do, and not even necessarily with Naughty Dog at the helm, but if and when they do I hope it's a platformer worthy of the first.

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