Where the hell is Jak IV?

The whispers and rumors have completely gone away…people don’t even bring up Jak any more because it’s so unlikely.

God of War: Ragnarok releases tonight at midnight, thus making today a HUGE day for gamers everywhere.

This was a weird way to start a blog that’s going to be about the Jak and Daxter series, but it ties in, I promise.

Since I just played 2018’s God of War for the very first time last year, I didn’t feel like playing it again this year in preparation for Ragnarok. The story’s fresh on my mind and my body is ready for whatever happens next!

Former Nintendo executive and video game legend, Reggie Fils-Aime

So, with time to kill before this HUGE release, I was looking for something to play to keep my mind occupied during these trying times. I didn’t want to truly start anything new, so I sought comfort in the past.

Available on PlayStation Plus is the entirety of the Jak and Daxter series including: Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (2001), Jak II (2003), Jak III (2004), and Jak X: Combat Racing (2005).

Jak X is TRASH so I will not be focusing on that at all in this blog.

Alongside Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet and Clank, and Sly Cooper, Jak is one of the heroes from my childhood that will always bring about nostalgia. Sly Cooper recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and with no new titles on the horizon, all fans can do is hope for his return.

With the Kingdom Hearts series alive and well in its 20th Anniversary and the Ratchet and Clank series still getting additions in 2021, one can’t help but get excited about who else is getting a revival soon.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart (2021)

Jak and Daxter‘s 20th Anniversary came and went with the same fanfare that Sly got: absolutely nothing.

While it’s fun that I can play the whole original Jak Trilogy on PS5, I can’t help but be sad about the fact that we’ve never gotten a legit Jak IV from Naughty Dog.

The entire gaming community is in concurrence that this weird offshoot game developed by High Impact Games in 2009 titled Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier is NOT a canon addition to the story of our characters.

Check out SuperButterBuns’ breakdown of this awful game

Without the original development team and studio creating a game to expand upon the original trilogy, we can’t consider anything to be a true sequel to Jak III. While Jak X is a sequel to Jak III, it’s a racing game that doesn’t provide the fun platforming and combat that the original trilogy provided.

That’s what people want out of a Jak IV: New Story, Old Jak and Daxter. Meaning, Square is to punch, Circle is to Spin Kick, X is to Jump, and L1 is to roll…A LOT.

Also, I can’t get through this and not mention 2006’s Daxter. Daxter is a prequel game that tells the story of Daxter trying to find Jak in the two years between Jak and Daxter and Jak II.

I didn’t have a PSP and this game was a PSP exclusive. Only really rich kids had a PSP, but from what I gather, people enjoyed this game a lot more than Jak X and The Lost Frontier.

Daxter (2006) a PlayStation Portable Exclusive

However, since Daxter is a prequel, it doesn’t matter what console it came out on. It didn’t expand upon the stories of our characters following Jak III and Jak X.

With Naughty Dog focusing on more realistic characters and gritty stories over the last decade with the beloved Uncharted and The Last of Us series’, it seems Jak and Daxter have been completely left behind.

Uncharted 4 (left) and The Last of Us: Part I (right)

I absolutely LOVE Uncharted and TLOU, but not more than Jak. I mentioned this point in my TLOU blog, but I’ll say it again: it’s kinda wild that The Last of Us: Part I has been remastered for two different consoles before Jak IV was even rumored to be in development.

Tom Holland, our favorite MCU Spider-Man and live-action Nathan Drake actor, has even said in interviews that he wants Jak and Daxter to return. WHY WON’T NAUGHTY DOG LISTEN TO SPIDER-MAN/NATHAN DRAKE?!?!

There used to be whispers of its development online. So much so that a former Naughty Dog employee even leaked a few concept art pieces of a Jak IV online.

A much more “realistic” looking Jak
Jak IV concept of Jak and Daxter investigating an old Precursor ruin site

These concept images are all people have had to go on for a few years as it pertains to Jak IV. The whispers and rumors have completely gone away. Every single time a PlayStation: State of Play (digital showcase of upcoming games) is announced, people don’t even bring up Jak any more because it’s so unlikely.

You can even tell how much it makes sense Naughty Dog wanted to move forward with the “realistic” vibes with Nathan Drake from Uncharted and Joel and Ellie from TLOU because Jak’s “realistic” look is kinda scary-looking and unnatural. However, I would absolutely get used to it if it was a real thing!

Replaying through the Jak series these last few weeks has just reminded me of the hurt of not having another entry on the horizon. (And also the hurt of the Mission Failed screen from Jak II and Jak III because I’ve seen them A LOT)

My hope hasn’t been completely snuffed out like others’ has. But this playthrough of the original trilogy has also reminded me just how amazing these games are. They’ve aged like wine and I still find them brilliant, just as I did as a kid.

Hell, I’d contribute my borderline OCD to collecting every Power Cell and Precursor Orb in Jak and Daxter.

I’m one to never say never. So, I can’t say and don’t want to say that Jak IV won’t happen. But I hope we can still generate the hype enough to let Naughty Dog know we want it.

And Sly too. I know this blog was about Jak, but shit, I just did to Sly what everyone did to Sly! We want Jak so bad that we’re not loud enough about Sly!

Please bring back Sly and Jak! Even the developers for Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart want these characters back!

While I was revisiting the Jak series, I also found this great video from an amazing content creator that I already linked to above.

SuperButterBuns on YouTube has this amazing retrospective on the Jak series and gets a little bit more in-depth on what I went over in this blog on a game-to-game basis. Here’s that video:

Please show Buns some love and keep the love of Jak (and Sly) alive!

As we all nestle in to play God of War tonight, let’s not forget that we could very well have the power to bring Jak back.

Don’t give up hope, ever.

~DS

Why I think Halloween Town is the best Disney World in Kingdom Hearts

The immersion of this world is still impressive 20 years later

Happy Halloween!

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday and I love going all in on my costumes. Part of the reason why I love the Halloween Town world in the Kingdom Hearts games is because Square Enix and Disney went all in on this world.

I explained it above in this clip from my Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary video, but it’s honestly crazy how cool they made a Nightmare Before Christmas world in Kingdom Hearts.

Not only does Sora, the main character, take on a Halloween Town appearance, but two of the most iconic characters in the history of visual media also take on these scary forms. Donald and Goofy having mummy and Frankenstein’s monster variants are just so cool.

On top of that, scoring the world is an instrumental version of the famed “This is Halloween” from the movie. The soundtrack continues to loop as you play through the world and it simply doesn’t get old.

While this is the general world theme, the battle theme goes even harder. Yoko Shimomura, the composer for the Kingdom Hearts series, is known for the series’ beautiful melodies and world themes. But the Halloween Town battle music “Spooks of Halloween Town” is absolutely top-tier stuff.

When you’re playing video games, sometimes consistently beating up the small-fry enemies on your way to a level’s boss battle can be annoying. Not when this theme keeps interrupting “This is Halloween.” This is an absolute BANGER. Certified fresh.

I’m an advocate for saving Christmas music until Black Friday every year. I know this is my Halloween blog, but part of the theme of the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas is the Christmas part.

In Kingdom Hearts, they didn’t do the Christmas part of the world. But in Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix, the immersion went even further.

*Play the music*

Christmas Town in Kingdom Hearts II got its own theme, its own battle music, and its own versions of Sora, Donald, and Goofy as well. Square Enix and Disney went that hard AGAIN!

Santa Sora, Reindeer Goofy, and Snowman Donald just provides that extra immersion that makes the magical gaming adventures through Disney films in attempts to defeat the darkness that much better.

The best part about the Christmas Town battle theme from Kingdom Hearts II is that you could score it over your upcoming Christmas shopping and it will provide all the stress. Listen below:

While the main characters of the Kingdom Hearts series taking on forms of the Disney films they visit is now a main staple:

Toy Story world in Kingdom Hearts III
Monsters, Inc. world in Kingdom Hearts III
Pirates of the Caribbean world in Kingdom Hearts III

The OG world to begin this trend was Halloween Town in the original game over two decades ago. While Toy Story may be my favorite Disney movie and a five year old me back in 2002 would’ve preferred a Toy Story world over a Nightmare Before Christmas world in the first Kingdom Hearts, there wouldn’t have been a Toy Story world in Kingdom Hearts III if it weren’t for the amazing visuals, soundtracks, and character costumes from Halloween Town.

Enjoy the holiday!

~DS

I recreated Michael Jordan’s “Shrug Game” in NBA 2K23

The court, the camera filter, the scorers table, and even the roar of the old stadium look and sound so much like the real thing.

From my previous YouTube upload about recreating Michael Jordan’s “The Shot” against Cleveland during the 1989 NBA Playoffs in NBA 2K23, it’s become quite apparent that the presentation of this video game is at an all-time high.

When I arrived at Jordan Challenge #10, I was absolutely blown away by how awesome it looked. You had the voice of basketball Marv Albert giving an awesome preamble, then you cut to an opening preview video that mimics the NBA on NBC Finals broadcasts from the ’90s, and then you get the full Chicago Bulls starting lineup narrated by Ray Clay with Sirius by The Alan Parsons Project blaring in a darkened virtual Chicago Stadium.

And of course, to see them decked out in the ’90s Bulls warm-ups is a nice touch too!

The court, the camera filter, the scorers table, and even the roar of the old stadium look and sound so much like the real thing.

This moment from Michael Jordan’s career is one of my favorites. Funnily enough, this moment is one of my first uploads to my YouTube channel over a decade ago.

There are now better looking videos with the original broadcast, but if you squint your eyes at the NBA 2K23 footage, it’s really tough to tell the difference.

I love this game and I can’t wait to play through the rest of MJ’s career virtually!

~DS