Jak and Daxter turns 20 – Reflections from PlayStation Studios and friends

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Jak and Daxter turns 20 – Reflections from PlayStation Studios and friends

A look back on the iconic PS2 platformer with Naughty Dog, Insomniac, Bend Studio, and more.

Believe it or not, 20 years have passed since a certain courageous teenager and his plucky ottsel sidekick entered our lives. Naughty Dog’s Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy launched on PlayStation 2 on December 3, 2001. True to the “precursor” moniker, this platforming debut predates the duo’s eventual forays into open-world exploration, desert-bound mayhem, and racing exploits. This first game focuses on satisfying platforming, power cell discovery, and the origins of Jak’s story, told with cinematic flair.

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy inhabits a fascinating place within Naughty Dog’s gameography, fitting between the pure platforming goodness of the Crash Bandicoot trilogy on PlayStation and the blockbuster adventures of Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series starting on PS3. Despite this first title’s focus on platforming, it’s impossible to overlook Naughty Dog’s signatures, including fluid character animations, richly detailed worlds, and engaging cinematics. I personally have fond memories of collecting every last power cell and hovering in the fantastical Zoomer vehicle.

To mark the anniversary, we’ve invited friends from PlayStation Studios and other third-party studios to reflect on the milestone and share their first memories of jumping (and double-jumping) into 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 set out from the start to design a world and not levels like we were used to coming from Crash, and we made it a rule that if you could see it you could walk (or boat or fly!) to it and that when you reached a building or cave that you could go inside and that the inside would have to fit within the space that the exterior could support. It wasn’t easy!”

Evan Wells / Co-President / Naughty Dog


“I remember being really excited about the physics that had been added to the rope bridge by the programmers, because we had rope bridges on Crash Bandicoot, but they did not have physics on them. We were just jumping up and down on the bridge and marveling about how it reacted to Jak jumping on it.”

Charlotte Francis / Senior Technical Artist / Naughty Dog

Concept art for Jak, the courageous primary hero of the franchise.


“When Jak & Daxter first came out, it really broke a lot of ground. The graphics were top-of-the-line at the time and it allowed you to play through very large areas without loading screens. On top of that, it was great fun. Jak had a lot of traversal and combat options, and Daxter was the comic 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 would play at my grandmother’s house when I was little. I remember that she specifically owned a console just for us when we came over to visit and Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was one of the games we would play for hours. I will forever 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 darn fisherman! It was the first game that I truly considered a favorite of mine. I even mentioned Jak and Daxter when I was interviewing for Insomniac because it had such a huge impact on my life and love for games. Never thought I’d get the chance to work alongside such an iconic company but it’s truly a dream come true!”

Heather Finley / Quality Assurance Analyst / Insomniac Games

 


“As a kid, I was amazed by the world Naughty Dog created — the humor, the vibrance, the storytelling. Jak and Daxter is a series about best friends overcoming odds, told through incredible cinematics and gameplay. It opened my eyes to the power of narrative and continuity, while taking huge risks that went from the lightheartedness of The Precursor Legacy to the mettle of Jak II. How Naughty Dog extracted this much heart from a vengeful eco-fueled man and a tutorializing shoulder-weasel (errr… Ottsel) is beyond me. But it’s a series that founded lifelong friendships and brought me closer to the PlayStation community.”

Aaron Jason Espinoza / Senior Community Manager / Insomniac Games


“I vividly remember Jak and Daxter playing like a great interactive cartoon. The Disney-like animations, the narrative, the funny relationship between the two main protagonists, it all felt like a new barrier had been smashed. And as always with Naughty Dog productions, it looked stunning and played amazingly well too. Looking at it today, I feel this game sits very naturally between Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted. We could say it was the precursor of a great legacy.”

Nicolas Doucet / Studio Director / Team ASOBI

Concept art for Daxter, the lovable, wising-cracking ottsel.


“I recall seeing the Jak and Daxter demo at E3 2001 and being blown away by it. It was the first time I’d experienced an open world with such an incredible level of fidelity, seamlessness and personality. Then I was told how Andy Gavin and the team had devised their programming language for the game, so it was pretty clear this was going to be a groundbreaking 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 times was a game changer! Even today, we can see the legacy of Jak and Daxter within the more recent titles from Naughty Dog; the attention to detail, ground breaking technology, superb animation, the storytelling, and character development can be traced back to a game that featured a farm boy and his best friend.”

David McDonald / Artist / Firesprite


“What amazed me most about the first Jak and Daxter were the characters — they were so beautifully animated, tightly scripted, and funny.  Being a character artist and rigger at the time, I was in awe of the amount of detail the animations had and the liveliness they exuded.  When set in such an awesome and strangely believable world, the game just set a totally new benchmark for combining storytelling and gameplay.”

Richard Brazier / Senior Technical Animator / Firesprite

What moments from Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy stick with you most? Share with us in the comments below.

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42 Comments

  • 20 years and nothing to celebrate it with. Give us a new entry in the franchise

    • What do you expect? Same thing happened to Ape Escape in 2019. At least you can play 4 Jak games on PS4.

    • I second getting a new Jak and Daxter over a new Ratchet and Clank.
      Maybe Insomniac could take a go at a new J&D instead of Naughty Dog? Otherwise, get ND to make a new J&D.

      I’m also strongly in favor of getting a new The Legend of Dragoon from Team Asobi, Shu was on the development team of the original game, I’m sure he’d also love for the franchise to make a return. One can hope.

  • Would love to see a new game in the series. I actually preferred these to Ratchet & Clank, even though I loved R&C.

  • Jak And Daxter is really my favourite playstation game (together with little big planet 1). If you see how many players are asking for Jak 4 it would be a shame if they aren’t working on it right now.

  • Great game, great celebration post. What would be great is if these games were playable on current Playstation hardware without graphical bugs, frame rate dips, etc. The PS4 ports of this series are horrible.

  • This game took big leaps from being an open world platformer to a full on story heavy series. It’s the reason why I enjoy single player narrative games today. Middle school me first experiencing a story about love, tragedy, betrayal, and hope, I was taken to a different plane of existence playing these games. Naughty Dog has always dared themselves to be different and challenged their own ideas from the beginning. Thank you all for this! A ground up remake of the trilogy or a faithful sequel is still something I hope for to this day.

  • I’ve never owned a Playstation before in my life until this past June. In the many folds of reality, I might have had a PS2, a PSP, or a PS3 growing up and played Jak and Daxter. I was really into platformers back then and animal-based games. At some point, I may actually try out Jak and Daxter, either on the PS4/PS5, on the Vita when I get my hands on one, or the original PS2 copy, it will probably be fun. You even see him (alongside other Playstation characters like Sly Cooper) in a game as recent as Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart, it makes you wonder if we will ever get a revival on the PS5. Insomiac did a good job graphically in designing the duo for the console, giving them a new polished look similar to how Ratchet ended up looking on the PS4 compared to the PS2 and PS3.

    • Everyone is asking in the Playstation community anyway. Please, please do it Naughty Dog. You old pals miss you.

  • Happy 20th birthday! Even if we aren’t getting a new entry, it’s nice to see Jak get acknowledged by PlayStation. Thank you Naughty Dog for creating a classic PlayStation franchise!

  • Looking at Naughty Dog then and now they don’t have what it takes to make games like Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter anymore. If Naughty Dog does, they sure don’t like to show it with their current output of games. I would love to see them return to what made them great in my book.

  • Celebrating with reflections is great, but can we get a new game or an updated remaster of the original series? Loved these games!

  • Jak and Daxter the Precursor Legacy was the first game I ever got 100% in. To this day it’s still my favorite game ever. While you can say it shares many aspects with other platformers, but there is still nothing like it in its scope, world, and execution.

  • Such a wonderful and incredible series. Jak 2 is still Naughty Dog’s greatest game to date, a technical and visual powerhouse of a title for its time. Shame you have completely forgotten about it PlayStation.

    Would love to see it get the Bluepoint 100% professional, one to one, number one, masterclass, remaster treatment. But sadly, we all know by now, that the PlayStation heads today wouldn’t have even drop of sense to make this happen.

  • I absolutely LOVE Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (my 2nd favorite game of all time actually). I would say the moments that have stuck with me are:
    -FINALLY catching the Artist’s Muse on Misty Island
    -My young mind being blown away by the day/night cycle of this beautiful world
    -The wonderful characters
    -Catching all of those stupid fish for the Fisherman lol
    -And the epic final battle!

    Reading this post actually inspired to go and purchase the Jak & Daxter Bundle on the PS Store today. This is a great game (and really good series). Like everyone else has said, I’d love another entry or remake. But until then, I’m more than happy to replay these old games. Thank you Naughty Dog and thank you PlayStation!

  • Even though I prefer R&C franchise overall, I still think that the Jak and Daxter are pretty good and I hope we get one day a remake from Bluepoint games.

  • Perhaps there will be an announcement at The Game Awards? Anyways, I have yet to play these games. I have the HD trilogy on PS3, but only recently did I learn how frustratingly difficult Jak 2 and Jak 3 are. And I’ve already run out of patience for gaming…

  • If there are plans for a sequel, keep current naughty dog away from it

  • It’s really nice to see that so many PlayStation developers were influenced by Jak and Daxter in a way. As you can tell by my username, the series has been a huge inspiration to me as well. My favorite is actually Jak II, but the first game is also fantastic in its own way.

    We really need more open-world 3D platformers like Jak! I don’t any other game that can compare to it, even after 20 years. A sequel taking advantage of the PS5’s SSD would be mind-blowing! 👀

  • Thank You Team Sony for creating my favorite Video Game Franchise on Planet Earth, May The Legacy Live Forever and hopefully we will get Jak 4 or a Sequel to Jak X Combat Racing.

  • Dying for a remake or a new entry. Here’s hoping 🤞

  • Happy 20th anniversary jak and Daxter! 😁

    I am glad that Insomniac games added Jak and Daxter as an easter egg in their latest entry to Ratchet and Clank (Rift Apart).

    Here’s hoping for a fresh new entry in the franchise. Perhaps a tease at the Games awards NaughtyDog?

  • Le guardo mucho cariño a este juego, me lo pasé muy bien jugando de pequeño, me gustaría que sacarán otro juego más o una remasterización ya que muchos se perdieron de esta joya de juego, porque no le dieron una oportunidad.

  • Happy anniversary J&D.

  • Jak & Daxter was one of the best games on the PS2. A great 3d platform game, my only real big problem was that I found 99 precursor orbs and my cousin (11 years younger than me😡) found all 101 and got the extra ending 😩.

    Wonderful game (one of the first Pal games on PS2 to have a 60hz option) and wonderful memories I had playing Jak & Daxter🙌🏾

  • Please give us a new installment. The Jak and Daxter games will forever be my favorite franchise and one of the greatest of all time. These games were so far ahead when they were released , it’s made them timeless. There is still such a huge fan base for these games and it’s sad to see all these fans left in the dust considering crash and ratchet got reboots. Everything is aligning for this to be the perfect time to continue the series. We know PlayStation can do an incredible job so please take this opportunity and give these loyal fans a new installment. Thank you.

  • Make a remake already!

  • I remember getting this as a kid and having a blast. I followed very entry in the series as well as rereleases. I still want another entry to this day. Hope Naughty Dog decides to release another entry of this epic franchise. I miss both this and Uncharted.

    • Please remaster jak and daxter like you did for spyro and crash bandicoot trilogy I think It would be great still have a strong community would bring back many memories and people who bought the game on ps4 should get an update when they remaster it please guys!!!!!!!! Plus daxter the game!!!

  • I actually started with Jak 2, not quite knowing what I’m into. So, what I got was [all the good things about Precursor Legacy mentioned here]+a deeper personality for Jak, making him and Daxter a true duo, and one of the best actually. A duo of mostly opposite personalities, yet still friends who truly cared for each other (learn this, kids: you can be different and disagree yet love one another). There were a few trial and error missions, which are always cheap, and some more checkpoints/health crates would have been nice, but overall Jak 2 is a well realized adventure with a lot of variety to the gameplay, yet never forgetting it’s a platformer at heart. Love it. Also, Renegade is best title. And PAL cover is best cover.

    Jak 1 came later, and I found that one more polished yet also more repetitive and boring. The game felt more empty somehow, although only in relation to its sequel. We never seen Flut-flut grow up some more, which is a shame.

    Jak 3 was a little on the short side (now I know development time was tight), but it felt right as a conclusion of 2 anyway. Some characters did not get much screentime (you know which ones) and there were a few minor side plots that didn’t really go anywhere, although Jak X, which I played YEARS later, somehow managed to make up for that. Despite being a racing game. It helps a lot that there was always strong intent to include lots of car traversal between levels ever since Jak 1, which was meant to have MORE racing than just 1 timed track! Racing was always a big part of Jak, so X does fit well. Jak 3 should never have given the player an option to unlock extra ammo however, since that permanently breaks a lot of the game. And Jak X should have given you MUCH more for beating Hero Mode.

    Daxter for PSP was one of the games I bought my PSP for, and it was very much worth it. Daxter is a near perfect interquel, and if not for a single spoiler, could have been recommended to play before Jak 2. Otherwise, all new players have to get through Jak 2 first. To all the complainers who wanted Daxter to have a grand epic adventure, remember he is not the epic hero he thinks he is, and a smaller (in all meanings of the world) adventure fits him just right. A game that needs to be re-released.

    Lost Frontier just makes me sad. It is a bag of great possibilities abandoned, then sold to…….. some people who weren’t quite sure what to do with it. Those people added some great ideas and a some terrible ones that are hard-to-impossible to “get over”. To this day I want a proper Lost Frontier remake, with a story that Naughty Dog (2006 team) wanted to tell, a way bigger story with more and better levels, and better gameplay. And no, flying planes between levels is not “lame”, it’s the COOLEST thing!

    Come on Sony, get some original Naughty Dog/Ready at Dawn members (writers, directors, artists) to consult a brand new team. Lost Frontier TRUE remake for PS5 202X!

  • The Jak and Daxter series is the series of games that I have played more than any other, and the Precursor Legacy is probably the game I know best of all. What is remarkable is that every time I play through the series, I notice new things – new character quirks, subtleties within the narrative and dialogue and other aspects that I’d never picked up on before.

    I have bought and played the series on every platform they have been released upon, completing the main trilogy on PS2, PS3, PS Vita and PS4. And if they were brought out again on PS5, I would purchase them again without a seconds pause. Normally, I would be against such things, but I feel that this series more than any other deserves my money!

    Plus, I’d love to platinum The Precursor Legacy again. I have twice achieved the platinum within a single day (on PS3 and PS4).

  • It was the first game I ever got 100% on. One of my all time favorites

  • This game had such a great impact on my life. I remember when I was a kid and went into our local game shop with my mom and when we spoke to a guy there, he said that no one so far managed to collect all precusor orbs and power cells, so I told him that I will be the first :D and I kept the promise and really managed to find all, although it took me a while to find hidden scout fly near Red sage’s hut or find all precusor orbs under the snow and discover the yellow eco switch behind trees. Such a nostalgia, from that time I played Jak and Daxter on every single platform that has been released on and would do it again if it would be re-released on ps5 as well or if the new one would came out which most likely never happened sadly :( . This game desereves all the love in the world as well as all great talents who worked on it and I would so like to thank for their hard work and unique ideas that brought this incredible duo to life. It will always be my best game of all times.

  • As a human and lover of PS I have deep feeling for Jak and all his games. I believe my life has be better for Jak and Daxter.

  • Jak & Daxter holds a special place in my heart as one of the greatest games ever made. I love the trilogy and the racing spin off Jak X (we dont talk about the other game lol).

    I really wish you would treat us with a remaster (like the PS3 one) for PS4 and PS5 or even a remake which would be awesome especially if Bluepoint got there hands on it. I also would love to see some sort of sequel in the future as this series still has a lot of love from fans.

    While i wait for that to happen i shall play through them again. Thanks again PlayStation for such an amazing franchise.

  • Still my favourite game from Noughty dog.I played every entry at least 10 times over. Still play it when i’m feeling down and when i want to remember the good old days 🤩
    Hope that we at least get a remake of the series🥺

  • Home cash earning job to earns more than $500 per day. getting paid weekly more than $3.5k or more simply doing easy work online.. no special skills required for this job and regular earning from this are just awesome.====> 𝗪𝘄𝘄.𝗡𝗘𝗧𝗖𝗔𝗦𝗛𝟭.𝗖𝗼𝗺

  • This was my childhood

  • I remember playing jack and dexter as a kid, along with sly cooper, gex, Spyro, and ratchet and clank. Back then it was less about money and more about making games that people were passionate about making. There wasn’t a year deadline. Also back then politics had nothing to do with video games.

  • Please remaster jak and daxter like you did for spyro and crash bandicoot trilogy I think It would be great still have a strong community would bring back many memories and people who bought the game on ps4 should get an update when they remaster it please guys!!!!!!!!

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