Behold, another drawing comparison! I love doing these, as it’s a great way to see how much I’ve improved over the years. It’s also a bit painful to see how horrid my old pictures are…. Anyway, this is a comparison of two drawings I made of Vin from Jak II, which were drawn 7 years apart! Continue reading Drawing Vin 7 Years Later
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….
“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
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.
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