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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I got Jak'd

One of the great things about Gamefly is the ability to rent something, beat on it for a while and then send it on home - all in about a night, fairly easily and with no guilt about wasting money.

I'm not sure why I wanted to try the original Jak and Daxter, I guess it's because I keep hearing about how the franchise has grown. The problem is - I hate platformers. Hate them. I liked Mario 64 and there hasn't been a single one to interest or entertain me since (I only played that game because at the time Nintendo left little choice ... though I found it compelling in the end). The thing is - platformers represent what I think is one of the worst user experiences in modern gaming. This is where the gamer knows what they're supposed to do ... knows exactly how they're supposed to do it ... and yet after twenty attempts isn't even close to completion because they haven't either a) figured out the lousy controls enough to accomplish the task or b) hasn't hit the random sequence of events to accomplish the task.

Take this as evidence. Capturing the "muse" on Misty Island is about as much fun as those old games where you try to make all the balls fall into a hole - except the latter has better camera control. I know the muse is a chase and that I have to beat the muse's time to a spot. I know I can use special moves to increase my speed. I found out there are shortcuts. Course - none of that matters when I can't see where I'm going because Naughty Dog apparently forgot to code in a way to force the camera to stay behind Jak, which means that the screwy circular path the muse takes is mostly a lesson in trying to see where you're going AND that the movement controls are so clumsy that at least four times I went past said muse instead of capturing it.

About a half hour of that was all I could take before I knew I had better things to do with my time. I was getting pretty close - but that was only making things more frustrating. It got down to that "keep trying until you hit that lucky moment where you accidentally succeed" part. Bah. Back in the sleeve ya go.

To it's credit - Jak's got some awesome design behind in terms of art production, story, and certainly an original bent on the platformer genre in general. Many of the mechanics work splendidly and for someone without a serious aversion to the platformer way of life would probably love it.

If you're that person - just do me a favor and wringe the muse's neck once you catch it.

Update: Oddly, the old GameDevBlog has some Notes on Psychonauts, which it decries as "the best Jak & Daxter-like game I've ever seen" ... so perhaps I should just be shooting for the pinnacle of the genre.

Post Post Script ... only now noticed that I typo'd the main character half the time. Need more coffee. Excuse me, I have to clean this egg off now.

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