Wish List – A New Jak And Daxter
One of my favorite series from the PlayStation 2 era of consoles was Naughty Dog’s Jak and Daxter. The developer has no announced plans to create a new entry in the franchise, but that doesn’t mean we can’t share our hopes for a return to the open-world platformer.
The best part of the Jak and Daxter series is its platforming. It has decent shooting, and frustrating racing, but my favorite parts of the game were always the platforming sequences. Jak and Daxter falls in the platforming genre, but as you move further into the series, the jumping gets scaled back in favor of driving and shooting. If Naughty Dog were to bring a new Jak and Daxter to life, I hope it would recognize the simple pleasure of leaping from one platform to another.
More World Building
The world of Jak and Daxter is an interesting one, full of technology, magic, religion, and politics, but it always took a backseat to the characters. Thankfully, the characters were always interesting and well-performed, but I would like the world to share the spotlight with the cast, rather than serve as a backdrop. I want to learn more about its history and see its friendly inhabitants do more than simply mill around aimlessly.
Condense The World
Speaking of the world, it could stand to be a little smaller in size, even if it could be expanded in scope. Jak II had a huge city, but getting through it was time consuming. There was little going on in the city outside of the main missions. In Jak 3 you had a handy vehicle to explore a giant desert, but a giant desert is still a giant desert. It’s not all that interesting. The original Jak and Daxter hit a nice sweet spot in size, with nothing ever feeling further away than it needed to be, but still having an impressive sense of scale. I like driving between locations, but it shouldn’t take longer than it needs to.
A Reboot Doesn’t Always Need The Word “Gritty” In Front Of It
In the world of comic books, new authors and artists take on existing franchises all the time to reset them. In the world of video games, resetting a franchise is usually a stand-in for the phrase, “to make darker and more realistic.” The Jak series has its moments of maturity and darkness, but if the franchise were to be reset or rebooted, it wouldn’t necessarily need a realistic makeover. It could be taken in a new direction while retaining some of the series’ fun aesthetic.
I also wouldn’t mind a pure, non-rebooted sequel. The story can still move forward with the same characters and art style with the duo exploring different worlds. Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier wasn’t the strongest entry in the series (we gave it a 7.75) but it had the right idea, sending everyone outside of the areas established in Jak II and 3 for a new story.
Jak sort of has a girlfriend in Keira, but their relationship was usually relegated to a quick pre-credits acknowledgement to show that yes, these two like each other. Daxter also has a relationship with another human turned ottsel, Tess, but it is played almost exclusively for laughs. How about an actual romantic partnership with these characters? Let them be more than just entertaining cartoon characters with relationships based purely on their ability to send you on a mission.
Slightly Less Daxter
Daxter is a fantastic sidekick, and he has some great lines in all of the Jak and Daxter games, but too much of something can sometimes be a bad thing. I definitely prefer him as an occasional sarcastic joke delivery system, rather than a character who has his own levels and missions, like he did in The Lost Frontier.
At some point in the series, Jak’s racing abilities became an important part of his character, but I really wish he would find a new hobby. I like being able to drive vehicles to navigate the world, but I hated racing in them. The racing sequences slowed down the pace of the game by taking players out of the world and placing them onto a difficult trace track that couldn’t be explored. Whenever I go to replay the Jak games, making it to the racing portions in Jak II and 3 are always when I end up putting the games down.
With cameo appearances in The Last of Us, as well as first-hand confirmation that Naughty Dog nearly considered making a new Jak and Daxter, we know that the studio hasn't completely forgotten about the pair. They even showed what the abandoned new version almost looked like, which you can see here. What about you? What would you like to see in a new Jak and Daxter game?