Tag Archives: jak ii

Day 5: Game Character I Feel I’m Most Like (Or Wish I Was)

It is now day 5 (or topic 5, as I am way beyond day 5) of my 30 day video game posts, which focuses on a game character I think I am most like (or wish I was), though this may or may not already be pretty clear from the title.  This is a rather hard one.  There are a lot of characters out there, and there are some I share similarities with and some I don’t.  But, I am really not sure who I am most like, and it’s a strangely embarrassing question, I think.  I’d sound like a weirdo if I said, I don’t know, I was like Samus.  What a conceited jerk I’d seem like to everyone.  I think I’m similar to the super awesome bounty hunter from the “Metroid” series?  Yeah, right.  No one compares to Samus because she is awesome.  Well, no, I wouldn’t choose her anyway, as I am nothing like Samus.  Perhaps that counts as a character I wish I was like, but still.  That’s not a good topic, either, as there are a lot of characters I wish I was like.  I wish I was cool and brave like Samus.  I wish I was as sweet and kind as Sora from “Kingdom Hearts”.  I mean, who doesn’t have a dozen characters they wish they were like?

            So that brings me back to which character I think I’m most like.  Well, none of the heroes, that’s for sure.  None of the villains, either, fortunately.  I’m neither heroic nor villainous.  So I guess I’d have to go with a minor character.  After thinking long and hard, for much longer and much harder than I really should have been, I decided on one particular character I may share the most similarities with.  This character would be the not-so-well-known Vin from “Jak II”.

            You may remember the post I wrote on this guy.  Vin is this nervous, nerdy character that manages the Power Station of Haven City.  While I certainly don’t do anything important like he does, I believe our personalities have some unfortunate similarities.  For one thing, I am super nervous like Vin is.  I’m sick to my stomach right now.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe because there are a million things out there to be sick to your stomach about.  Where to begin?  I may not fear Metal Heads as Vin does (if they existed, I’m sure I would), but I do fear all manner of illnesses, clowns, natural disasters, bears, crime, bear-clown hybrids, and that fateful day I just know is coming when a large spider is going to end up in my house or the smoke detector will go off due to low batteries, and I will not currently possess the necessary skills to stop it.  I also dread the day my computer finally dies.  Or gets so dang old, it simply isn’t compatible with anything anymore.  Heck, I was nervous enough when Youtube was acting up on my computer (I love Youtube).

            I am also paranoid.  While Vin thinks everyone, including Baron Praxis, is out to get him, I have suspected others were out to get me, too.  There were multiple occasions where I was alone with someone, and the thought suddenly went through my head that, if they decided to kill me, what would I do?  How would I fight back?  And if I failed, would anyone ever find my body?  (Well, I’m not going into the middle of nowhere with people, but a duck body may be pretty easy to hide due to our small and compact size, and my corpse may spend years in the ventilation ducts in the ceiling, which is surprisingly fitting, as the word ducts sounds like ducks.)  I started to panic inside, thinking this is a prime murder location.  If I was a murderer, surely I would murder myself here.  If they wanted to do it here, they would probably succeed.  Oh, if I just hadn’t made the decision to go here with them, I would have lived a long and happy life.  Or I worry that when we’re driving somewhere, someone is going to take a detour to drive me out into the middle of nowhere and butcher me rather than continue on to our planned destination (I’ll drive to the comicon alone next time, thank you very much!).  That’s the reason why I do the driving.  Plus, people drive like maniacs, with their lane-changing and their lack of turn signals.  You always know when I’m going to change lanes.  Always.  No surprises driving behind this duck.  You’ll just be stuck driving the speed limit.  Sorry.

            Also, it is not part of the game itself, but “Jak 3” has these goofy interviews with the characters, and while it is not canon, the characters are still, well, in-character.  Anyway, in this interview, Vin is also bothered by “people getting too close” and germs, which is why he doesn’t shake hands.  I don’t like people getting near me, either.  I don’t hug.  I also don’t see the appeal of kissing (get your face away from my face; I’m not food!) or holding hands (I don’t want to touch your clammy mitts, either!).  I also usually don’t like people sitting next to me.  I know I’m on a full-sized couch, but sit on the other couch.  My bubble of solitude needs a good ten-foot radius.  I also don’t like shaking hands.  It’s filthy.  We’re going to have an epidemic that will spread like wildfire because of this bizarre ritual to grasp the hands of everyone you meet.  You don’t know what disease they have.  If they have leprosy or some other affliction of the epidermis.  If they wiped their nose or coughed or sneezed on their hand.  You don’t know if they washed their hands or not after they went to the bathroom.  You can’t know these things, and it would be rude to ask, and yet you are expected to touch other people and get their germs on you.  Why?  I say we do away with the whole thing.

            So there you have it.  I share the unappealing characteristics of a guy described as “pathetic” and “a bit crazy” by other characters in the game.  Which are words possibly bouncing around the minds of my readers right now.  …Hey, you guys aren’t, perchance, considering to murder me, are you?  Oh, what’s wrong with me, now you know I’m on to you, which will only make my assailants all the more sneaky.  Must lock doors and keep Keyblade close by…  Not that I don’t always do that anyway…

The Duck is Keeping a Close Eye on You….

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In Defense of a Coward

“Hey!  Who you calling crazy?  I can’t help it if the world is out to get me!”-Vin

            I decided I wanted to write about one of my favorite characters of all time (he may actually be my favorite character ever; I made a chart and everything, is that weird?), this time, a character from the “Jak and Daxter” series.  Most people like the loud and rambunctious Daxter.  Or the heroic Jak.  Or the gruff, former Krimzon Guard Commander, Torn.  Or Ashelin, ‘cuz she’s tough (and doesn’t wear a lot).  Me.  I like Vin.  Yeah, that’s right.  Problem?  (Major “Jak II” and minor “Jak 3” spoilers ahead.)

            Vin is a minor character from “Jak II”.  I’m not entirely certain what it is Vin does, but he is not only the foreman of various projects around Haven City, but he spends quite a bit of time in the city’s Power Station, no doubt doing important stuff related to the Eco Grid and the city’s shield walls, which he seems to take very seriously.  (He must be a pretty busy guy.)  He is also a valuable informant for the Underground, a group dedicated to stopping the evil Baron Praxis.

            You first see Vin after Torn tells Jak and Daxter to rescue him from the Metal Heads at the Strip Mine, though after braving the dangerous creatures there, our poor heroes are almost shot by Vin himself, who completely panics at the presence of these two strangers.  Luckily, Vin’s aim is terrible.  Despite almost killing Jak and Daxter, Vin can be quite helpful, providing them with valuable information and helping them with his impressive knowledge of the city’s Eco Grid.  And despite being a rather minor character, he still provides our heroes with some of the most valuable information of the game….

            Major spoilers coming up.  Unfortunately, like with most of my favorite characters, something terrible usually happens (be careful if I like you because I’ll probably jinx you, sorry).  Eventually, Haven City’s shield falls, and the Metal Heads get into the city.  Vin tells you through the little radio what happened, that Kor (who turns out to be the Metal Head leader in disguise) is responsible, and that the Metal Heads are breaking into the Power Station.  While you never know what happens for sure, Vin is badly injured, most likely by Kor (which is why I absolutely hate that son of a…a Metal Head).  A bit later, as Jak works to defend the city, he hears Vin’s last words, a weak, “Jak…  Kor…  Construction site…”  We never hear or see Vin again in this game, but it is obvious from Samos’s statement later that Vin has died.  Somewhat fortunately, Vin does show up in “Jak 3”, as a floating hologram head in the Power Station.  According to him, he somehow put his brain into the Eco Grid, apparently before the Metal Heads got to him (which sounds a little confusing, as he was clearly injured in “Jak II”, so I can only assume he did this after being injured by Kor, but before the Metal Heads got in).

            Despite Vin somewhat coming back in “Jak 3” (for only one cut scene, though, grrr), I am still sad about his fate.  Yes, he’s happier now that he’s safe from Metal Heads and whatever other things he imagined were after him, but now he’s stuck in that computer.  It must get lonely in there.  (And he now has computer viruses, power surges, and accidental deletion to worry about.  You think he’s thought of those possibilities yet?)  And I think it’s terrible that Jak didn’t put forth any effort whatsoever to help him when the Power Station wasn’t really even that far away and instead went to look for Sig, who can defend himself.  (Seriously, who needs more protection, skinny, little Vin that is completely incompetent with a firearm or big, burly Sig, who is equipped with a Peacemaker?  Huh?  Huh?)  And it’s sad to hear Vin mortally injured and alone on the other end of the radio.  The poor guy is dying, but manages to tell Jak where to find Kor, allowing Jak to find the true identity of the Metal Head leader, and no one even attempts to help him.  Where’s your gratitude Jak, you green and yellow-haired freak!

            Anyway, as you can tell, I am quite distraught by Naughty Dog’s treatment of poor Vin, but now I suppose I must get to why I like Vin so much.  Besides being super smart and super nerdy, he is also super paranoid, claiming that “the world” is out to get him, including the Baron.  He’s quite pessimistic (repeating often during the Eco Grid game in “Jak 3” the words “It’s lookin’ bad.”) and terrified of Metal Heads, and according to the model viewer in “Jak 3” (which may not be quite canon, but I do believe the characters are still, well, in character), he also doesn’t like germs, shaking people’s hands, or people getting too close.  He’s also described as “pathetic” by Torn and “a bit crazy” by Jak.  Which, I must admit, are both accurate.  Okay, so far, Vin’s sounding a bit like a downer, isn’t he?  Well, all of these traits actually make him a pretty fun character, and seriously, I’m not done with this post yet.  As Vin would say, “Sheesh!”

            Anyway, I also like Vin because he is a rather complex character in some ways.  Like a real person, he has character traits that can contradict themselves.  He seemed a bit arrogant when you first meet him, as he expected an “army” of people to save him from the Metal Heads, but he is also humble; when Jak complimented him for his skills with the Eco Grid and called him a genius, Vin denied being any such thing.  He’s also usually a pretty nice guy, too, despite being strangely grumpy with Ashelin once with no real provocation.

            He is also clearly a coward, but despite that, he must be somewhat brave if he was willing to risk his safety by helping the Underground with fighting the Baron.  (The Baron experiments on people with Dark Eco.  Is that someone you want to mess with?)  And not only that, but as I mentioned, Vin was dying when you last hear from him, but he still made sure he got that last bit of information on Kor’s whereabouts to Jak.  People can say he is pathetic and weak and paranoid, but there are times when this coward has more bravery than the average person.  How many people in Haven City wouldn’t be considered cowards, but took absolutely no stand against the Baron?  Even in the real world, there are very few people who are brave enough to fight back against tyranny.  So anyone who disses Vin, you’ll have the Duck to contend with.  Seriously.  Don’t even.

            I am also sad that he seems to have so few fans, though I can understand why.  People seem to usually want characters that are tough or brave or cool.  Vin was none of these.  He’s a wimp.  He’s clumsy.  He’s pitiful.  But, Vin was a likable guy.  And he was fun.  He was always so nervous, so hyper, and a bit eccentric.  I always found him to be one of the funniest characters in the game, from watching him scream and fall down when Daxter claimed to see a Metal Head in the Power Station to listening to him whine about Metal Heads and people trying to kill him.  He was a great character.  Both a genius and a total wreck.  A huge coward, while at the same time, at least brave enough to help fight the Baron and even give Jak and Daxter one last clue when he was dying.  And ironically, one of the best members of the Underground (and how differently would things have turned out if they hadn’t received that information on Kor?), while at the same time getting mocked behind his back (I saw you roll your eyes, Ashelin.  Or at least, it was a half eye roll.).  To quote Vin, “It’s not easy bein’ Vin!”

            I did not provide a picture.  I drew one over a year ago, but I’m too embarrassed to show it.  Plus, a picture just can’t do him justice.  It’s much better to see Vin in action, so I included a cut scene below, where Vin wants Jak and Daxter to blow up the Eco wells at the Strip Mine.  It shows Vin’s personality quite well as he spazzes out and complains that everyone wants to kill him.  It’s also one of his funniest cut scenes.  (I’m sure you’ll be able to tell, but Vin’s the guy with the white hair.  Daxter’s the orange weasel.  Jak’s the remaining person.)

Duck, Likely One of Vin’s Many Fears

Jak Goes to the Big City

I just beat “Jak II” for the third time.  It took about two weeks, (20 hours and 26 minutes, not including my unsaved time), and I got 150 out of 286 Precursor Orbs.  In this game, Jak, Daxter,Samos, and Keira try out the device they found behind the door in the secret cut scene at the end of the last game.  It opens up a strange portal, and once through said portal, they end up in a city, where poor Jak is thrown into prison and experimented on with Dark Eco for two years until Daxter rescues him.  This game is a lot darker than the last one, but also has a much better plot.  In this game,HavenCityis under the control of Baron Praxis, who claims that they are safe from the Metal Heads outside the city as long as they obey him.  Of course, even inside the city walls, people aren’t safe because the streets are filled with the Baron’s soldiers, the Krimzon Guards.  So now Jak and Daxter are determined to help the Underground stop Baron Praxis and protectHavenCityfrom the Metal Heads.  (Oh, and for some reason, Jak can talk now, even though he used to be mute.  Don’t question it!)

            One thing I love about this game is the awesome story, where you learn about Jak’s past and what happened to the Precursors, among other things.  (There is one big problem I have with the plot, though, which I discussed in my “Proof I Overanalyze” post.  Very confusing.)  And the characters are much better, too.  (My favorite character is Vin who’s quite nerdy and super paranoid.  For whatever reason, he thinks everyone’s out to get him, and his habit of overreacting almost caused him to shoot Jak and Daxter when they tried to save him from the Metal Heads at the Strip Mine.  Luckily, Vin has terrible aim, so our heroes survived.)

            While the last game was comprised of exploring levels and collecting Power Cells to advance, this game is made up of missions.  A character gives you a mission, you do it, and the story advances.  The main place you explore isHavenCity, which is quite big, and to get around faster, you can ride zoomers.  You can just take an unused one or steal one from someone.  The latter is more fun.  I know, I’m bad.

            You have to watch out for the Krimzon Guards, though.  If you steal from them, attack them, or hit them with your zoomer, (or in the case of some missions, they suspect you of doing something naughty), they will chase and shoot at you.  Plus, in some places, motion sensing turbo cannons will come out of the ground to try and take you out, as well.  Then, you must flee until they leave you alone.

            Anyway, in addition to the zoomers, you can later ride around on a JET-Board, which is like a hovering skateboard, but better because it’s a hovering skateboard…in a Jak and Daxter game.  This is good for getting around quickly when a zoomer isn’t available, grinding along rails, and doing tricks.  (These tricks get you points in the arena, which earns you Orbs, so they’re not as pointless as they sound.  They’re pointful.)

            One new thing in this game is when Jak collects enough Dark Eco, he can change into Dark Jak, which is a result of the experiments done on him.  Dark Jak is very powerful and good at going on a destructive rampage to take out a bunch of enemies.  He can learn a few powers by bringing Metal Head Skull Gems to the Oracle.  The last dark power you learn makes Dark Jak giant.  He actually looks quite ridiculous.

            Another difference in this game is that you now have a gun, with four different mods.  There is the scatter gun, with a short, but wide range, which is good for knocking enemies back, a blaster (pretty straight forward), the Vulcan fury (machine gun, hooray), and the powerful Peace Maker.  These are very useful since Metal Heads are much tougher than the Lurkers from the last game.

            Anyway, you get to play as Daxter in this game a little tiny bit, which is fun.  Daxter is little.  Cute Daxter.  (But, not as cute as mini sheep, which I still have yet to find in any games recently.)  You also sometimes use the Titan Suit later on, which lets you break through things, lift heavy objects, and walk underwater.  Yay for it.

            Another fun thing in this game are the secrets, which you unlock by collecting Precursor Orbs.  Secrets include rewatching cut scenes, replaying missions, concept art, and hard mode, which I’ve never been able to unlock yet and sounds pretty impossible, considering the regular game is hard.  There are also silly secrets, like making Jak’s head extra big or infinitesimally small (I always look for opportunities to use that word).  You can also make Jak’s goatee disappear, if you prefer him clean-shaven.

            There are several problems I’ve heard people have had with the game.  For one, they say the city is too big, and the map is confusing.  I never had a problem with the map, myself, and yes, the city is quite big and rather confusing, with many winding streets, but it feels more real to me that way.  I find it quite fun to explore such a big place.  And it is sure more realistic than those towns with three buildings that some games have.  That isn’t even a village.

            People also say the game is too hard, but I don’t know about that.  It can be difficult, but it’s a possible kind of hard.  It’s a game you can beat if you just keep trying.  And I like a challenge.  Fortunately, I’ve had five years to improve since the last time I played, so it’s not as bad.  Actually, the hardest part, I think, are the extra things around the city you can do to get Orbs.  Now those are hard.  I wanted to get 200 Orbs so I could unlock hard mode, but I could only get 150 before I gave up.  Strangely, I have another file with 189 Orbs and was able to get 6 more.  I’ll get you yet, hard mode!  Just 5 Orbs to go!  But, why was I so crappy with my current file?  Maybe I just wasn’t feeling very motivated.  Yes, that’s it.

            And speaking of collecting Orbs, I quite liked the gun course, where you can get a grand total of 36 Orbs.  Got silver for the scatter gun and blaster courses and gold for the other two.  Good times.  I shoot the people cutouts a lot with the darn scatter gun, though, which makes me lose points.  It’s the wide range that gets me.  There are also a few mini games, but I just can’t get the high score on the Onin one.  There’s one game you play as Daxter that is like whack-a-mole, but with Metal Heads, which is fun, but you don’t get any Orbs for playing it.

            One thing I find interesting is the Precursor writing.  It is also in the previous game, but there’s a lot more in this one.  I have the Precursor alphabet in my Jak 3 guide, and you can translate the writing.  (In many games, you can’t translate the writing because it is meaningless.)  It’s fun to translate things.  Some things are boring, like “rugs”, “market”, “peace” on a sign with a picture of a Krimzon Guard (pfft, yeah right), and a really random one that said “doctors”.  I did find a more meaningful, rather sad message in the Power Station, though….  It was not easy to get that one.  Darn moving words!  Stay still!

            On a very random side note, I was walking along once, and Jak just tripped.  And Daxter fell off his shoulder.  Side note number two, Brutter creeps me out a little.  And he looks like he’s wearing a little diaper.  Oh, and on yet another side note, I found a picture of Ratchet and Clank (from the series of the same name) in the part ofHavenCityoutside the stadium.  I knew I’d seen it before, but it took a while to find this time.  But, you couldn’t elude me forever, picture!  And on a final side note, now if you swim too far out in the water, instead of getting eaten by a Lurker shark, a robot comes out of the water and shoots you.  There, now you know all kinds of new, pointless things.

Jak and Duckster

Proof I Overanalyze

I think too much.  But, I don’t know if it’s in a good way.  You see, I couldn’t solve a mystery if my life depended on it, but I do think of things few others would.  Mainly, this shows up in video games.  I come up with questions the creators never thought anyone would care about.  They may not have even thought of these things in the first place.  Why?  Because they’re not important, and yet I ponder them anyway.  So I made a list of some of the silly things I’ve thought of.  Let’s see if any of you guys can solve these mysteries.

1. First of all, and this is one of the most bothersome.  It is so mysterious that it competes with the question of why Yoda from Star Wars talks so weird.  Well, maybe not, but here it is.  Tell me now, who is the mother of Bowser’s kids?  You know, from the Mario games.  Who could it possibly be?  They just throw in some Bowser spawn with no explanation, way back in Super Mario World, I think.  What female turtle beast had those kids?  Where is she now?  Huh?  It is so simple, and yet we will probably never know!

2. F-Zero, a racing game, appears to have some racetracks over cities.  I’m pretty sure at least one does.  How unsafe!  If there is a crash, and there are, these vehicles that can go upwards of 400 km/h are going to come screaming towards the surface like tiny, but still horrifying meteors.  Every time you go over the side in that game, do you think of all the carnage caused, lives that were lost, buildings destroyed, etc. by your recklessness?  No.  No, you probably don’t.

3. Now this one’s a bit more obscure, so I’ll explain.  In Hunter: The Reckoning, there are certain people that can see the dead.  Apparently, things look normal until someone witnesses a death, and then they can suddenly see the world for what it really is.  Gasp, zombies walk among us, and we didn’t even know!  But, how does that work?  It makes sense from the hunters’ point of view, but what about those unable to see the horrors around them?  Do they see seemingly ordinary people shuffling about, awkwardly trying to attack others with their normal-appearing, but actually rotten, zombie limbs?  What about the gargoyles?  Do they look like regular humans to most people?  Do they not notice when these statues just go missing one day?  It’s bugged me.  It shouldn’t, but it does.

4. There’s also something in Final Fantasy XIII that I don’t understand.  You should probably skip this if you don’t want spoilers (well, not big spoilers, but still).  Anyway, for those of you who haven’t played, it’s probably very confusing, but I’ll keep it simple.  Some powerful creatures called the Fal’Cie can make humans into L’Cie, who are forced to complete a Focus within a certain amount of time, or they’ll turn into a monster called a Cieth.  I am made to believe that all humans died off on Pulse (a planet, I guess) quite a while back.  Maybe I’m wrong.  But, if not, I don’t understand something.  All those unlucky Cieth, after being Cieth for a while, turn into Cieth Stones and are forever tormented with the thought that they failed their Focus.  It seems they were charged with killing tough creatures throughout Pulse, which your characters can then go defeat.  But, that brings me to my question.  How are these creatures still alive and in the same location all this time?  After all these years, you’d think the creatures would be dead, or at least, would have walked somewhere else.  But, that’s just me.

5. Now, this one’s a spoiler for Jak II, so don’t read if you don’t want…spoilers.  Anyway, this is something also very confusing, and it has to do with time travel.  Yeah, that’s already confusing in itself, but there’s another issue I have.  When Jak, the main character, was a child, he was sent back to the past to be kept safe.  This is the time frame of the first game, during which the bad guys, Gol and Maia, set out to flood the world with Dark Eco (which is a very bad thing) and take over the world.  But, since it was Jak that stopped them, wouldn’t they have taken over the world before it ever got to the time period where Jak was born in the first place?  You would think that this would keep Jak from being born in the future, and thus prevent him from being sent to the past, where he defeats the two.  Without Jak to stop them originally, they would have taken over already and Jak may never have been born and sent back to the stop them!  How could this be?!

            I’m also bothered by the minor fact that they say Diddy of Donkey Kong is a chimp, even though he’s not because chimps don’t have tails.  At least, I don’t think so.  Anyway…

            I’m not crazy.

 An Over-Analytical Duck