To celebrate their most recent cover reveal, Game Informer is running month-long coverage of The Last of Us, Naughty Dog's upcoming zombie apocalypse title. Today, however, the site has posted a feature focusing on one of Naughty Dog's other most cherished franchises, Jak & Daxter.
Apparently, Naughty Dog not only considered revisiting the Jak & Daxter franchise after work on Uncharted 2 was completed, but they actually started working on it. However, things didn't seem to come together, leading the team to shift their focus and begin working on an entirely new IP, which we now know as The Last of Us.
According to Naughty Dog, the team attempted to reboot the Jak & Daxter series by utilizing some of the tech behind Uncharted 2, which led to a much more grounded, realistic take on the franchise's titular characters. In order to make the new Jak & Daxter more realistic, the goofy, slapstick humor was dropped for a more serious tone. However, Naughty Dog soon realized that this game they were working on was Jak & Daxter only by name. The core of the franchise had been lost somewhere along the way.
“We dug around trying to find the core of Jak and Daxter,” said creative director for The Last of Us, Neil Druckmann to Game Informer. “Who are the characters? We had to reboot it essentially. Every time we got excited about an idea we’d take a step back and look at it and be like ‘It’s not Jak and Daxter, are we just slapping the name on it for marketing reasons?’”
“All the ideas just started to feel like they were going so far away from what made Jak and Daxter Jak and Daxter,” added Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells. “Even though we wanted to give fans another Jak and Daxter, we felt we weren’t going to give them the game that they wanted, and that we would end up either limiting the direction that the company had this passion for while simultaneously not creating the game that fans wanted. We just realized we were going to just do everybody a disservice.”
And so a reboot of the Jak & Daxter franchise was sadly shelved. But I can't say I blame them. I think their reasoning for doing so is completely justified. From my point of view, a Jak & Daxter game without the slapstick humor and cartoon-y look wouldn't be Jak & Daxter game either; that's a large part of the series' charm.
Maybe someday Naughty Dog will find the right voice for a next-gen Jak & Daxter title, but it won't be any time soon. If you want to read the full feature on the abandoned Jak & Daxter title, head over to Game Informer. It's an interesting read for fans of the series, for sure.