I am slowly making my way through the 30 days of video game topics I started…probably a few years ago, and today we have finally reached…number 12. I’m not even halfway done yet! Yikes! Well, this topic involves a game everyone should play, and I had to put careful consideration into which one I would pick. Not only do I have a lot of great games that I would definitely recommend to others, but I wanted to make sure my choice wouldn’t also be used in other 30-day topics in the future. After careful consideration, I ended up going with a game that is very special to me, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy.
I have already written plenty of posts praising this game, so I’ll try to stay focused and not rant on and on about how great this game is. Instead, I will just focus on a few key points as to why anyone who hasn’t played this game should check it out. With all due haste. This game is my personal favorite of the Jak and Daxter series. It takes place before the series got as naughty. Before our heroes ended up in a future of machines and big cities and guns. In short, it took place in a simpler time in the Jak universe, when even the plot was easier to understand (I could never pay attention long enough to understand what took place in Jak 3). Basically, what it boils down to is Jak’s friend Daxter falls into a pit of Dark Eco and gets turned into an ottsel. They go on a quest to help him and find a greater evil along the way that threatens their very world. Simple. The game itself is a platformer, and you can use various types of Eco for various powers, like increased speed and strength. And you collect Precursor Orbs and Power Cells. And along the way, you meet a myriad of funny characters. You could almost say it’s the Banjo-Kazooie of the PlayStation. Almost.
And that’s where my love of the game gets a bit difficult to explain. This game just has a…certain tranquil simplicity about it, if that makes any sense. You pretty much get to spend the entire game exploring this beautiful landscape and just…kind of relax. Sure, there are enemies and other challenges to deal with, of course, but I just feel so calm when I play this game. It’s just pure, lighthearted fun. But, maybe I’d better illustrate with an example.
Many of us gamers, including myself, talk about how we want better stories and characters in our games, but now that we’ve started to get what we asked for, I find myself wondering where all the platformers have gone. Oh, gamers these days don’t want platformers anymore, I hear. That’s why Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts was made. That’s why Rareware took a pair of classic platformers that were legendary in their greatness and instead created a game about building vehicles. Because gamers don’t like platformers anymore. Or so I’ve been told. And it makes me think, maybe they’ve taken things too far. Maybe we do still want platformers. Why else did Yooka-Laylee get the overwhelming support it did if we didn’t like platformers anymore? Based on what we’ve been told we now enjoy, that game shouldn’t have gotten any interest. It shouldn’t have ever gotten the funding it needed to even be made. And yet, here we are, in 2016, waiting for the game’s release on all major consoles.
Which brings me back to Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. We need more games like this again, as badly as we needed a Yooka-Laylee to prove that the fans of Banjo-Kazooie and other similar games have not outgrown their passion for platformers. Games used to be simple. Games didn’t used to take 100 hours to beat (just the main story, mind you; that doesn’t include the side quests!) and have stories even an entire team of people couldn’t decipher. In the past, games could be simple and still be beautiful. The Precursors Legacy illustrates that. It symbolizes a brighter time in gaming, for me, at least. It represents the Banjo-Kazooie’s and Donkey Kong Country’s we all grew up with and loved. Did we care that there was little to no story in Donkey Kong Country? No. Did we balk at Banjo-Kazooie’s complete lack of character growth by the end of the game? Absolutely not. Games just had to be fun and nothing more. I agree that good stories can certainly add to our enjoyment of a video game (the improved plots of the Ratchet and Clank series, for example), but the lack of a complex plot will not always detract from the fun, either. The Precursor Legacy strips away all the excess, leaving us with a game that illustrates why we play video games in the first place.
Because they’re fun.
The Duck Legacy
This post was originally published on United We Game on June 28, 2016.