Believe it or not, 20 years have passed since a certain brave teenager and his brave sidekick ottsel came into our lives. Naughty Dog’s Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy launched for PlayStation 2 on December 3, 2001. True to the nickname “Precursor,” this first platformer predates the duo’s possible forays into open world exploration, chaos in the desert and racing exploits. This first game focuses on a satisfying platform, the discovery of power cells, and the origins of Jak’s story, told with a cinematic twist.
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy occupies a fascinating place in Naughty Dog’s gamography, ranging between the sheer platforming goodness of the Crash Bandicoot trilogy on PlayStation and the successful adventures of Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series starting on PS3. . Despite the emphasis this debut title places on the platform, it’s impossible to ignore Naughty Dog’s signatures, including smooth character animations, richly detailed worlds, and engaging cutscenes. Personally, I have fond memories of collecting every last power cell and hovering in the fantastic Zoomer vehicle.
To mark the anniversary, we invited friends from PlayStation Studios and other third-party studios to reflect on the stage and share their earliest memories of jumping (and double jumping) in the world of Jak and Daxter.
“The biggest thing I learned was the challenge of designing an open world game without using load times! We started from the start designing a world, not levels like the ones we were used to in Crash, and we made a rule that if you could see it, you could walk (or navigate or fly!) Hit a building. or a cave that you could enter inside and that the inside would have to fit into the space that the outside could support. It was not easy !
– Evan Wells / Co-chair / Naughty Dog
“I remember being really excited about the physics that had been added to the monkey bridge by the programmers, because we had monkey bridges on Crash Bandicoot, but they didn’t have physics on it. We were just jumping up and down on the bridge and marveling at Jak’s reaction to jumping on it.
– Charlotte Francis / Senior Technical Artist / Naughty Dog
Concept art for Jak, the courageous main hero of the franchise.
“When Jak & Daxter first came out, it really came a long way. The graphics were top of the line back then and it allowed you to play in really large areas without loading screens. On top of that, it was a lot of fun. Jak had plenty of crossing and combat options, and Daxter was the comedic relief. The crazy celebration animations when you found a Power Cell were half the reward.
– Darren Chisum / Engineering Manager / Bend Studio
“Jak and Daxter was one of the games I played at my grandmother’s house when I was little. I remember she had a console especially for us when we came to visit and Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was one of the games we played for hours. I will always remember how hard it was as a kid to cross the volcanic crater on the A-Grav Zoomer or how hard it was to catch 200 pounds of fish for that damn fisherman! It was the first game that I really considered one of my favorites. I even mentioned Jak and Daxter when I interviewed for Insomniac because it had a huge impact on my life and love for games. I never thought I would have the chance to work alongside such an iconic company, but it truly is a dream come true!
– Heather Finley / QA Analyst / Insomniac Games
“As a child, I was in awe of the world that Naughty Dog created – the humor, the vibe, the storytelling. Jak and Daxter is a series about best friends overcoming obstacles, told through incredible cutscenes and gameplay. It opened my eyes to the power of storytelling and continuity, while also taking huge risks that went from the lightness of The Precursor Legacy to the courage of Jak II. How Naughty Dog extracted so much heart from an eco-fueled avenging man and didactic shoulder weasel (er… Ottsel) is beyond me. But it’s a series that forged lasting friendships and brought me closer to the PlayStation community. “
– Aaron Jason Espinoza / Senior Community Manager / Insomniac Games
“I clearly remember Jak and Daxter playing like a great interactive cartoon. The Disney-style animations, the storytelling, the funny relationship between the two main protagonists, it all felt like a new barrier had been broken. And as always with Naughty Dog productions, it looked gorgeous and played amazingly well too. Looking at it today, I think this game falls very naturally between Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted. You could say it was the forerunner of a great heritage.
– Nicolas Doucet / Studio Director / ASOBI Team
Concept art for Daxter, the adorable and wise ottsel.
“I remember seeing the Jak and Daxter demo at E3 2001 and being blown away. It was the first time I had experienced an open world with such an incredible level of loyalty, fluidity and personality. Then I was told how Andy Gavin and the team designed their programming language for the game, so it was pretty clear that this was going to be a game-changing game in many ways, and it was.
– Thomas Puha / Communications Director / Remedy Entertainment
“I was blown away by the freshness of the visuals, the attention to detail on the environments and the animation on the characters. No loading time has changed the game! Even today we can see the legacy of Jak and Daxter in the most recent titles of Naughty Dog; attention to detail, revolutionary technology, superb animation, storytelling and character development can be attributed to a game starring a farm boy and his best friend.
– David McDonald / Artist / Firesprite
“What amazed me the most about the first Jak and Daxter were the characters – they were so beautifully animated, well scripted and funny. Being a character artist and rigger at the time, I was in awe of the amount of detail in the animations and the liveliness they gave off.When set in such an impressive and eerily believable world, the game has just set a whole new benchmark for combining storytelling and gameplay.
– Richard Brazier / Senior Technical Animator / Firesprite
What moments from Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy stood out to you the most? Share with us in the comments below.