JAK AND DAXTER / Naughty Dog / Playstation 2
Hmm. So I never played a Jak and Daxter game prior to this one, and just based on the art, I thought they would be a comedy duo bouncing one-liners off each other or something. Jak is a mute protagonist tho, kind of like a more grown-up and well-muscled Link that uses kung fu attacks, and Daxter provides all the dialogue in the form of cartoony attitude.
The game is made by the team responsible for the first few Crash Bandicoot games, and has a similar look and feel, but it really owes more to the Banjo Kazooie "collect-a-mania" style. It's a pretty standard 3D platformer, but takes place in a seamless (no load times) and fairly open-ended world, and there's no formal "levels" per se. You move freely between worlds, some of which are inaccessible at the start of the game, but the main goal in progressing is to collect X number of "power cells", of which there's always more than you need available, so you have options in where and how you get them.
The game really seems designed for kids - it's fairly short, fairly easy and Daxter's constant smarmy quips can get grating if you're over the age of like 12 or so. Other than that, though, the game is a great time. It's nice that you're not really punished for death - the worst dying will do is take you back to the beginning of an area, but you keep all the collectible stuff you grabbed before you died, so it's actually a handy shortcut if you have to traverse some long jumping contest again, and deaths aren't kept track of or held against you in any way. The lack of load times gives the game a zippy pace and the gameplay is extremely solid. The camera can be a bit finicky, but it's decent for the most part - I never felt like I died solely because the camera decided to suddenly take a shit angle, and it's usually adjustable up to 360 degrees with the right analog stick. The game also has only 3 bosses, but I think only 2 are actually mandatory.
If you like a hard platformer with showpeice boss battles, this isn't that. If you like the idea of exploring very pretty and varied environments (I wonder if Wind Waker was a little inspired by this game's art style?) at your own pace, however, and convenient "pick up and play" gameplay that keeps things simple and allows you to put the game down for potentially weeks and come back to it without missing a beat, this is that. It's fundamentally platformer fluff, but it's extremely well executed fluff in all areas, and it was actually a nice leap forward in programming for when it came out in 2001. You can easily get a copy in good shape for 2 or 3 bucks, at that price, it's worth a look.
* Gameplay Video