Tag Archives: jak

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

It’s Like SSB for the PS3, and That Even Rhymes

One day, I was thinking to myself.  I was thinking how neat it would be if there was a “Super Smash Bros.”-like game for the PlayStation.  Then, I could have Ratchet beat up Jak.  I could have Jak beat up Ratchet.  And that’s really the only combinations I could think of, as I’m actually pretty limited on my knowledge of PlayStation characters.  But, it would still be pretty cool.  And then, a completely different day, I found out there was indeed such a game.  “PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale” for the PS3.

            So I ended up having to buy this game.  It’s not often something I’ve pondered about has turned out to be real.  When I got it, I found that this game is a lot like “SSB”.  As you’d expect, there are a good number of characters (20, I believe) from a variety of PlayStation games, such as “Ratchet and Clank”, “Jak and Daxter”, “Little Big Planet”, and “Infamous”.  And there are stages that take place in locations from those games, though some games get rather ignored, though I don’t care because the “Ratchet and Clank” and “Jak and Daxter” series got stages.  So I’m good with that.  The gameplay is pretty similar, as well.  Just like in “SSB”, attacks are done by pressing a combination of a button and tilting the control stick.  One thing I like is that this game has more attacks than “SSB”, as you can use Square, Triangle, and Circle to attack rather than just A and B.  You can also throw people and dodge attacks and such.  And double jump, despite being against all laws of physics.  I wish I could double jump.

            There is one main feature of the game that makes it a little different from “SSB”, which is how you defeat your opponent.  You don’t simply get their damage counter really high and then knock them off the stage.  You can actually attack the other character for an hour if you want and never defeat them.  Don’t know why you’d want to, but it’s your life.  Anyway, in this game, you attack your opponent until your meter gets high enough, and then you unleash a super move on them that, if it hits them, always kills them.  (It’s a lot like those Final Smash attacks in “Super Smash Bros. Brawl”.)  You can even wait for the meter to get extra high for a level 2 or level 3 super move.  Some of these are pretty cool, as you sometimes get multiple attempts to attack people when you use them.

            Another thing I find fun is that characters also go up in rank the more you use them.  This doesn’t affect the character at all, but it does unlock different icons (these little pictures that show up under your character on the loading screen that shows who’s fighting, which is kind of pointless, but okay), costumes for the character, “minions’ (these are little stubby versions of characters from the various games that sometimes cheer you on), and other such things.  I am disappointed that there are no characters or stages to unlock, though.  They’re all there from the start.  It was fun unlocking them in “SSB”.  But, I hear you can download two characters and a stage.  I probably won’t.  But, you can.

            Some of the stages can be pretty interesting, as well.  One thing I like about this game is that all stages have two parts to them.  They start off with a location from one game, and then they change and incorporate things from another game.  This makes them a bit more interesting.  For example, in Hades, there is this creepy monster in the background that sometimes tries to attack the players.  Then, halfway through the stage, these cute, little dudes with spears show up in the background behind the monster, while adorable music plays, which is very out of place.

            I ended up having fun with this game.  I just really enjoy getting the opportunity to play as a wide variety of characters and maul (or get mauled by) said characters.  That’s why I love the “SSB” series.  Though, while this game is a lot like “SSB”, it is lacking in one area, a variety of things to do.  There just isn’t a lot to do in this game.  Not really.  Like, this game has a story mode for every character, but it’s all really the same.  And calling it story mode may be pushing things a bit.  I think to call something story mode, an actual story should show up in there somewhere.

            These little “no-story” modes really just involve a little cut scene (well, more like a picture of the character(s), with dialogue) with the character(s) on some small, little quest.  (“Hey, Dax, let’s find a new kind of Eco.”  “Okay.”  Or “Hey, Clank, let’s find some gold bolts.”  “Okay.”)  Then, they fight a lot of battles that seem unrelated to anything.  There is then a real cut scene thrown in later, where they get into a fight with some other character, usually for some absurd reason (are video game characters really that sensitive that they’ll attack someone for the slightest perceived insult?).  Then, at the end, you fight this floating head guy called Polygon Man (which I think of as kind of this game’s version of Master Hand from “SSB”).

            In addition to “no-story” mode, there are also combat trials where you are supposed to do certain things, like defeat people a certain number of times with your level 1 super move or only attack with the square button and such.  There are some general ones, and there are a bunch for each specific character, too.  These started out fun, but then they get a bit boring, and I gave up.  Like I said, I found parts of this game disappointing.  While it will take a long time to do everything in it, a lot of it is really the same, so it will get boring if you try to do it all.  I think “SSB” games have a lot to do, but there is enough variety that it stays interesting.

            Despite a few things that disappointed me in the game, I did have fun playing it, and I’d like to talk just a little more on my favorite parts of this kind of game, the characters and stages.  My favorite characters were Jak and Ratchet from “Jak and Daxter” and “Ratchet and Clank” respectively.  Not only were they some of the only characters I actually knew, but they both came from games I loved and were a lot of fun to play as.  Playing as Jak feels a lot like controlling him in the actual “Jak and Daxter” games, plus his level 3 super move allows you to control Light Jak for a limited time.  Ratchet was fun, too.  You could have Mr. Zurkon (my all time favorite weapon from the “R&C” series) help you fight for short periods of time, complete with his usual insults and taunts (“Yoohoo!  Mr. Zurkon’s looking to kill you!”)  I also like that with his level 2 super move, you can use Clank to attack people.  I like watching people run in terror from cute, little Clank.

            Other characters I liked were Big Daddy and Sir Daniel.  I have never played their games, but I thought they were fun characters to play as.  Big Daddy is just awesome.  He wears a diving suit and has a big drill.  What is not great about that?  And Sir Daniel is a goofy, mumbling skeleton that is almost impossible to understand.  I have gotten attached to him.  Least favorite characters include Sweet Tooth the clown and that rapper dude.

            When it comes to stages I liked, my absolute favorite was San Francisco, for the simple fact that Dr. Nefarious (my favorite character from the “R&C” series) shows up in the second half, along with his silly space station from “A Crack in Time” that resembles a giant version of his head.  There’s also an “Uncharted 3” stage I think is pretty cool.  It’s the part of the game where Drake’s on the plane (hey, that sounds like a movie title, “Drake’s on a Plane”…), and the back opens up and the cargo starts to fly out.  It was awesome in “Uncharted 3”, and it’s awesome now.

            I also both like and get overly upset by Sandover Village from “Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy”.  This stage brings back lots of “Jak and Daxter” nostalgia and makes me wish all the more they’d make another game, that’s actually good.  It made me happy and depressed all at the same time.  Then, halfway through the battle, this stage’s transformation saw Sandover Village get turned into a golf course, which peeved me quite a bit.  Don’t desecrate a location from one of the greatest games ever made, you sons of…!  Swear words to you all!  Swear words!

            So this game, like the Sandover Village stage, managed to make me glad and sad at the same time.  The game could be fun.  I loved playing as my favorite PlayStation characters, along with new ones.  It has more variety in terms of the number of moves characters have.  I also liked how the stages change.  But, I thought that, after the initial excitement wears off and I’m done checking out all the new characters and stages, the game gets a bit boring.  All the extra things you can do are too similar.  I don’t feel there was as much variety as the “SSB” series.  I enjoyed it, but in no way can it compete with “SSB”.  At least, not for me.  And seriously, I just like sending people flying off the screen.

PlayStation All-Ducks Battle Royale, the Fighting Game Where You Only Play as Ducks

Jak Likes to Speed

I recently beat “Jak X: Combat Racing” for the second time with 100%.  It took a little over 3 weeks.  I originally wasn’t sure about getting this game because I don’t usually get racing games and I didn’t know if they were going to try to be too cool.  When you try to be cool, you just aren’t.  But, after much thought, I finally gave in.  It is a Jak and Daxter game, after all, and I’m glad I did.  It ended up being much better than I expected.  It is actually very fun, and it also has a decent plot and entertaining cut scenes.  You’ve done it again, Naughty Dog.

            In this game, Jak, Daxter, and some others are summoned toKrasCityfor the reading of Krew’s will.  (Krew was a bad dude whom Jak killed in “Jak II”.)  After meeting Krew’s daughter, Rayn, and drinking a toast to the deceased gang lord, they listen to a message Krew recorded before he died.  Apparently, he had planned for his death and even anticipated the reactions of everyone there.  He tells them that he loved racing, and he wants them to win the Kras City Grand Championship race or something.  They refuse, as he expected, so he tells them that their drinks were poisoned, so they have to race in order to get the antidote.  (Well, duh.  I could’ve told them the drinks were poisoned.  Idiots.)  Now Jak and his buddies have to compete in the dangerous races while also dealing with the gang of a mysterious man named Mizo.  Wow, what a complicated excuse just to make a racing game.  And why is everyone always out to get Jak?  Poor guy.

            Like I said, this game is super fun, and as you can tell from the title, it is more than just simple racing.  It is combat racing, where you both race and attack your opponents to kill them and thus, slow them down (typing this right now, it sounds rather silly, but it is awesome anyway).  There are a variety of weapons you can pick up, and what you get is random.  The Yellow Eco weapons are good for attacking people in front of you, such as with a gun, missiles, or bombs.  My second favorite is the Peace Maker, which kills the person in first place, and my top favorite is the Super Nova that kills everyone in front of you, but you only have 10 seconds to use it.  Red Eco weapons leave behind mines, oil slicks, give you shields or extra turbo, or they can even make an attack drone float over you that automatically shoots anyone that comes near.  There is also this Saucer Drone that people leave behind that kills whoever it hits.   Can’t even tell you the number of times that thing has gotten me.  Darn me and my slow reaction time!  Anyway, these Red Eco weapons are good to save because if someone shoots a missile at you, you can use it to deflect the missile.  You can’t avoid the Peace Maker so easily, though.  To avoid that, you can slow down and let someone pass you, then, they’ll get hit.  Usually I can’t slow down fast enough, but it works sometimes.

            There are also events other then racing, like Capture the Power Cell (which is like capture the flag, of course) which I hate because my team members are always crappy.  Really, it’s them, not me.  There’s also the Freeze Rally where you try to get through 2 laps as fast as possible by getting tokens to freeze time.  You get a 10 second bonus if you get them all.  There is also a Death Race where you destroy as many drones as you can either by attacking them or ramming into them.  There is also Rush Hour, which is like the Death Race, but the drones all drive at you and you must ram them.  It is hard to keep control of your car sometimes in this one.  In the Deathmatch, you try to kill as many of the other players as you can, and in the Artifact Race, you try to get artifacts before the other players.  In Turbo Dash, you get Power Cells, and then use turbo to charge up and shoot them.  The more you shoot, the more points, but the problem is, Power Cells launched by other racers can hit you.  I found that a good way to win is to stay behind everyone else.  Then, no one can hit you, but you can give them a lot of trouble.  I am a sneaky ducky.

            In each challenge, you can get 3 points.  Gold is 3, silver is 2, and bronze is 1.  Whenever I get gold, I have no choice but to do an obnoxious victory dance.  I don’t know why.  Anyway, the more points you get, the more new challenges you unlock.  With enough points, you can unlock the Grand Prix Qualifiers.  You must get a gold in each of these to unlock each Grand Prix race.  Prix is a weird word.  Why is the x silent?

            Anyway, these challenges take place in a few new locations and a few old.  There is Spargus andHavenCityfrom the previous games.  Spargus is easier to race in thanHavenCity. HavenCitycan be annoying.  And it is so much hillier now.  How did that happen?  Did they have a major earthquake?  Am I not meant to question that?  The new locations areKrasCityand theIcelands.  Yay.

            There are lots of secrets you can unlock in this game, such as the Sand Shark vehicle from “Jak 3”, lots of car parts (Even pink, fluffy dice, which I quite like.  Watch them bounce as I drive.), plus other racers you can use, such as Daxter, Pecker, and even the versions of Jak from the previous games.  There is also concept art and videos.  In one video, it shows one of the opening cut scenes plus the voice actors as they’re doing the voices.  They’re so serious.  I could never be a voice actor.  I’d giggle.  Another video showed the opening scene before the game starts as they were making it.  It starts out with temporary voices, which sounded quite silly, and then it went to a scene with Jak driving, but at first, it just had a version of Jak from an earlier game sitting in the car motionless and expressionless as he drove.  It was hilarious.  I laughed so hard.

            My favorite video is the bloopers, which I guess must be weird mistakes in the cut scenes while they were making the game.  (How do these things even happen, I wonder.)  They are quite amusing.  Several of them involve characters looking horribly mangled and in a few, they have weird colors.  The one I find the funniest, but also terrifying, is a nightmarish, deformed G. T. Blitz walking towards Jak and Daxter with no legs (so I guess, floating), with one arm straight up in the air, and weird colors on his face and eyes, with a mouth that moved like crazy.  That could be one of the scariest things I’ve even seen, but I laughed.  (It would be super scary in real life, though.)  Other things in the bloopers don’t really seem like bloopers.  They show a cartoonish version of G. T. and Razer’s other hairstyles.  He does not look good with bangs.  At all.

            Anyway, I was rather proud of myself at one point in the game.  There is this special thing you can do where you press X (the accelerate button) right when the banner turns from 1 to Go, and you start off at full speed and a full meter of turbo.  It’s hard to time it right, but a couple times when I was almost done playing, I did it.  It was awesome. I.  Am Awesome.

            The first time I played this game, I got 100%, so this time I was determined to do it again to see if I still could.  I got all the medals except for a gold in a circuit race in the Waterworks Circuit.  This course is very hard, with a lot of difficult turns, and I wasn’t sure if I could win this time.  I was going to give up, but then I decided to try one more time.  I was doing okay this time.  I was keeping up with the other racers all right, but not expecting to win.  Near the end, I was around fourth or fifth place, then, I was suddenly in second and had just picked up a Super Nova.  I couldn’t believe it.  I actually stood a chance this time.  So I took out the driver ahead of me with my awesome weapon, then, just sped towards the finish line to victory.  Yep.  I still got it.  I got a crazy case of the awesomes.  I have become very obnoxious during this post, haven’t I?

            After my victory, something funny happened when I was racing for fun in the Frozen Speedway.  This area has very short laps, and one time, the screen said I was in first, but someone (Torn, if you care) was right in front of me.  I thought there was some mistake, then, I realized that Torn was just extremely behind in the race, and I had gotten right behind him.

            Nothing cute to report, but I love how Daxter rides on top of Jak’s car during the races, with his tail up in the air.  I don’t know how he holds on, though.  Especially when the car rolls over.  Wouldn’t Daxter get squished?

            Now, I leave you with some amusing quotes.  Because I’m nice.

            Samos: Oh, and the rocks say hi.  (You worry me,Samos.)

            Razer: Good looks and speed win every time.

            Razer: Fastest around the track and my hair is still perfect.

            Kleiver: (sometimes when you shoot him) So what, I’m a big target.  (He is.)

            I also find it rather funny that Kleiver called G. T. Blitz “Gee Whiz Blitz”.  And you should, too.

 High Speed Duck

Jak Saves the World and Stuff

I recently beat “Jak 3” for the third time, which took a little over 2 weeks (17 hours and 15 minutes, to be exact).  I got 452 Orbs out of 600.  In this game, Jak is banished to the Wasteland because the people of Haven City think he’s responsible for the Metal Heads getting into the city because of his association with a bad dude named Krew in the last game.  He, along with Daxter and Pecker (Pecker is the horribly named monkaw, monkey macaw, from the last game, and I’m not sure why he’s here), are found by the Wastelanders and brought to the city ofSpargus, led by Damas.  Throughout the course of the game, Jak reluctantly helps the city that banished him fight off the forces attacking it while also learning about a new threat, the Dark Makers.  (Errol, a bad guy from “Jak II”, also appears in this game.  He’s now a cyborg because he got horribly injured in the last game.  While he lost much of his body, he did gain an R in his name for some reason, so it wasn’t a complete loss for him.)

            While we had Haven City to explore last time, there is now an enormous Wasteland to explore.  Luckily, to get around this place faster and avoid tiring out Jak’s footsies, there are vehicles you can drive around.  These vehicles, unlike the zoomers, have wheels and most have weapons.  (You can also drive around in first-person, which is fun.)  One vehicle, the Dune Hopper, can even jump quite well.

            This game now has 3 versions of each of the 4 gun mods, so you now have 8 more reasons not to mess with Jak.  The Beam Reflexor’s one of my favorites because the bullets bounce around and hit a bunch of enemies.  You don’t even really need to aim.  Just shoot a few times and let the bullets do their thing.  I also like the Arc Wielder, which shoots a beam of electricity at enemies.  There’s also a Mass Inverter that makes enemies float helplessly in the air and a Super Nova, which is a powerful bomb of death.

            You also learn new moves, such as being able to sometimes turn invisible as Dark Jak, and you also now can break through certain walls.  Better yet, you can now turn into Light Jak and use Jak’s new Light Eco powers, which allows him to slow down time, heal himself, create a barrier around himself, and fly.  Light Jak is pretty awesome.

            One thing I am disappointed by is the ending.  You find out who the Precursors are, and it is rather lame.  I wish now that we had never found out who they were.  Not only are they not as neat as I would expect, it takes away a lot of the mystery.

            Due to complaints in the last game that Haven City was too big, Naughty Dog decided to have the Palace get attacked, causing it to fall and destroy much of the city.  Problem solved.  I don’t think the people ofHavenCityare too happy, though.  People also thought “Jak II” was too hard, so they attempted to make this game easier by decreasing the difficulty level when you fail too many times.  A good idea, and maybe the game is a bit easier, but there are times I think the game is actually much harder.  There is one mission I hate more than any other.  You are driving, and about 6 or 7 missiles are following you, and it starts out easy, but then at the port, you must shoot and drive by decoys so the missiles will hit the decoys instead of you, and it’s really, really hard.  Sometimes, the missiles destroy you within seconds.  You must really hold the acceleration button down, and if you loosen your death grip on it at all, you die.  If you turn too fast, you die.  Heck, sometimes you don’t even know why you died.  It was completely absurd.  That one mission was harder than all the required missions of Jak II combined.  And their plan to make the game easier didn’t work.  They kept adding time.  I don’t need time!  I need the missiles to stop getting so close!  (Based on the dialogue, it sounds like Daxter may have wet himself when he mentioned to Jak “that warm trickle down your neck”.  Eww.  Poor Jak.)

            One improvement is that the extra challenges for getting Orbs are much more fun and easy now.  Sometimes, an Orb appears somewhere, and you have a short time to reach that location.  I enjoyed finding the places.  Sometimes, you have to get through rings within a certain time.  There are races, which aren’t so fun, and you can also shoot targets from the turret in Spargus City, which was fun, and I got the gold score.  The JET-Board challenge is much easier.  I just pressed buttons like crazy and got 100,000 points, beating the gold score of 75,000.  There’s also the Eco Grid game, which is like “Pacman”, where Daxter’s head goes along the thing and eats the orange dots while avoiding the red thing.  I got gold in that.  It was fun.  The gun course, however, isn’t as fun as it used to be.  Now the targets can shoot at you and explode.  I can’t focus as much on shooting if I have to dodge.  Maybe that’s the point.  But, I don’t like it.

            Another thing I am quite bothered by is Kleiver’s lack of pants.  He just has this insufficient skirt, and you can see much of his beefy legs.  To make matters worse, there’s a secret you can buy called Kleiver’s Diaper, where he doesn’t even have a skirt, and you get a nice horrifying view of his undies.  (Other secrets include Jak with a big head or a small head, clean-shaven Jak, concept art, hard mode, redoing cut scenes and missions, and also fast and slow cut scenes.)

            My favorite of the secrets are the model viewers, which has models of every character from the trilogy.  Some of the characters from “Jak II” and “Jak 3” also have dialogue, where they talk about the game as if they were actors, and it is very entertaining.  Krew, for example, says that he had to lose weight for his part and is now down to a “lean, mean 520”.  It also sounds like he ate his personal trainer, but not before he lost a good amount of weight, of course.  He’s also not good at video games and could “play for years on the same level and never win”.  My favorite dialogue is Vin’s, of course (he’s my favorite character, after all), where he goes on a couple of rants, in one complaining that what he does is never good enough, that he won’t shake hands because he’s afraid of germs, and his throat gets dry if he doesn’t drink enough water, which is really random, but okay.

            In Pecker’s dialogue, he threatens to hit you.  Jerk.  Baron Praxis’s dialogue is quite fun.  It makes me dislike him less.  He did the game for the money and also talks about his death scene, where he is shocked that they had him “fly 50 feet through the air and have 20 tons of 50 gallon drums” land on top of him, without a stunt double.  “Are they crazy?” he asks.  Maybe, or maybe they just don’t like you, Baron.

            Anyway, nothing much cute to report, except the Leaper Lizards, which you get to ride around in Spargus.  They are like Flut-Fluts from the first game, except they are lizards.  And they eat kangarats.  Just so you know.  (I felt really terrible when I hit one with my car….)  Still no mini sheep, though.  How absurd.

            I end this post with two things that amuse me.  One is a quote from Pecker, when they are taken out to the Wasteland at the start of the game, “This is an outrage!  I am outraged beyond words!  Although I do have something to say.”

            The second thing is when Daxter calls Count Veger the wrong name.  He’s gone with Count Vulgar and Count Vegan.  I find it funny; Veger, however, does not.

Wastelander Duck

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

A Boy and His Ottsel

I recently beat “Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy” for the fifth time, and yet it’s still awesome.  I got all 101 Power Cells and all 2000 Precursor Orbs.  It took about a week.  I love this game.  So much.  It’s about Jak and Daxter (surprised?) who wander off toMistyIsland, even thoughSamos, the Green Eco Sage, told them not to.  Once there, the pair see two evil looking people (and as we all know, people who look evil most certainly are), giving instructions to creatures called Lurkers.  Hmm, could be important, but the two wander around some more, and Daxter ends up falling into a pool of a terrible substance called Dark Eco and comes out as an orange ottsel (otter weasel).  Daxter, of course, is rather distraught, and the two return toSamosfor help, who tells them that the only one who might be able to change Daxter back is Gol, the Dark Eco Sage, who of course, lives far away, and all the teleport gates are off.  So they set out on their little quest to the north to try and save obnoxious little Daxter, but little do they know of the evil plot that is brewing….  Mwa ha…ahem.  (By the way, don’t finish this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers, but it turns out that the two evil people are Gol, the only person that can help Daxter, and Gol’s sister, Maia.  They became evil because they were twisted by the Dark Eco.  Gol’s my favorite character because I often like bad characters and he has a good evil laugh.  I still need to draw him sometime.  It’s long overdue.  Oh, and by the way, I have a picture of Maia on my fan art page….).  This game is super delightful, one of the best ever, and I can find very few flaws.  It is nearly perfect, I think, and that doesn’t happen very often.  I shall tell you more!

            One thing that shows up throughout the game is a substance called Eco, of which there are several types.  Of course, there is Dark Eco, a black and purple substance that can kill or mutate what it touches.  While being deadly, I think it is also rather pretty.  I enjoy watching it.  My favorite is Blue Eco, which makes you run faster, attracts things to you, and activates Precursor technology (I’ll get to the Precursors soon.).  Also, when you get near boxes, they start shaking and then suddenly burst open. It makes me feel rather powerful.  Green Eco is for health and at one point, is used to heal plants infected with Dark Eco.  Red Eco makes your attacks stronger and Yellow lets you shoot balls of yellowness.  There’s actually one more type of Eco.  Guess what it is.  I’m serious.  Guess.  Or not.

            And like I promised, the Precursors, an ancient group of who knows what of which little is known.  They did, however, leave behind countless structures (even huge Precursor robots) and various objects, such as Precursor Orbs.  There are also Oracles laying around that give you cryptic messages and give you Power Cells when you give them Precursor Orbs.  I don’t know what they even do with all those Orbs, though.  Greedy statues.

            And recently speaking of Power Cells, these are used to power things such as the zoomer’s heat shield so it can cross lava.  You must collect them to progress through the game.  There are 101, but 100 is required for the secret ending, and I’ve gotten them all several times because of my mad skills.  Or at least, somewhat agitated skills.  You get these Power Cells by completing certain challenges, like catching enough fish with a “tiny net” (and the fisherman wonders why he isn’t catching anything), driving through all the rings with your zoomer before they disappear, destroying all the Dark Eco crystals, and even scaring seagulls until they fly into the mountain so hard that it causes an avalanche.  You can also buy them from people for 90 Orbs each or from the Oracles for 120 each, which are rather odd numbers, but whatever.  Also, many Power Cells are just lying around, just chilling as they wait for you to figure out how to climb over to them.

            Something I absolutely adore about this game (and the entire series) are the characters.  They have so much personality.  I love the voice acting and the character design and everything.  For example, there’s the overly dramatic warrior who got “pounded” like how one “tenderizes a Yakkow steak” by the monster terrorizingRockVillage.  Also the gambler who wears a barrel because he lost his money on a bet (he bet on the warrior beating the monster, I believe, and lost).  Boggie Billie, who lost his pet hip hog, lives in an outhouse, and doesn’t even know what a bathtub is.  The sculptor who lost his Muse.  Main character wise, everybody loves Daxter (not the characters in the game, but the people playing it).  He’s quite funny, and his voice actor, Max Casella, won an award for his talents.  I also like grumpy oldSamos.  Even though he’s mean.

            Another awesome thing is that this game is pretty much one, huge place.  There is no loading, which I’ve heard the creator, Naughty Dog, was quite proud of, and as you go through the game, you can look back and see the places you’ve been.  I spent a bit of time onSentinelBeach, looking out at theislandofGeyser Rockand watching the geyser spray water into the air.  It’s quite lovely.  And what I also love is standing atopSnowyMountaintowards the end and looking back at everything.  I can even see to the coast to the south where the game begins.  Then, I look to the north at the Dark Eco silos and the citadel, the last place.  Plus, the rocky shore that extends into the distance.

            Likewise, you can swim into the ocean and never reach a wall like you would in some games.  Of course, you can’t go on forever because if you swim out very far, a Lurker Shark will come and eat you.  Not fun being eaten, but I like that the world feels more real without any invisible walls to stop you.

            I also love the zoomer.  It is a vehicle ridden like a motorcycle, but it hovers instead of having wheels, and it has a big propeller on the front.  When driving one of these, the controller rumbles quite a bit, which is neat because it makes it feel more real.  I want my own zoomer.  They must be pretty dangerous, though, with that big, flesh-chopping propeller on the front.  How many people have lost limbs in that thing?  And they’re noisy.  Hmm, maybe I don’t want one.  It’s still awesome, though.  You can also ride a large bird called a Flut-Flut.  Good times.  Maybe I’ll just buy me a Flut-Flut instead.

            I also like the music.  I like how it’s not overdone like in a lot of games.  It’s often soft and doesn’t overwhelm things.  I find theSnowyMountainmusic particularly soothing.

            The only thing to compete with mini-sheep in terms of cuteness in this game was the sculptor’s Muse, even though it was a brat.  It’s a yellow critter with big ears and a long tail, and it runs from you when you try and catch it.  After following it along the same loop several times, I decided to try and trick it.  I chased it to the bottom of a ledge, climbed up the ledge, and jumped down onto it from above.  Take that, you little turd!

            One of the few things I dislike in this game is the health.  If you lose a unit of health, you must collect 50 little bits of Green Eco to get it back as opposed to, you know, one.  It takes a long time.  And by then, Jak will probably get hurt again, and then you need 100!  Grr!

Duck Eco Sage