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Jak And DaxterBefore developer Naughty Dog began focusing on its upcoming Sony PlayStation 3 title The Last of Us, the company explored the idea of returning to its big PlayStation 2 series, Jak and Daxter, and updating it for the modern era.  While the franchise was certainly successful in the past decade, Naughty Dog stepped away from it when the PlayStation 3 era began in order to focus on new challenges (such as creating the Uncharted series).  Other developers have since been tasked with creating new Jak titles for the PlayStation Portable, but the company that started it all nearly circled back to the franchise following work on Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.  The reworked Jak and Daxter concept shared little with its more well-known incarnations, however, as Naughty Dog tried to give the series a realitstic reboot.  Game Informer has the story.

Naughty Dog wanted to find a way to apply elements from Uncharted 2’s award-winning game design to Jak and Daxter. The team experimented with implementing Uncharted-style narrative techniques and rendering Jak and Daxter in the same realistic style seen in the company’s gorgeous PS3 games. According to Wells, the new project would be a departure from slapstick, comic book-tone of previous games. But before full-blown work could begin on the game Naughty Dog would have to create new, more realistic versions of the titular heroes.

The lighthearted Daxter proved to make the transition from wacky hijinks to a more grounded experience particularly difficult.  “There’s a lot of baggage that comes with Daxter,” says The Last of Us director Bruce Straley. “If he’s not lighthearted and slapsticky and fun then he’s not Daxter to the fans. We were thinking what if he’s mute? What if he’s this? We had all these ideas that made Daxter interesting, but then we’re still trying to be creative within that box of ‘I have this rodent on my shoulder.’”

“It started feeling like a compromise,” says [creative director for The Last of Us, Neil] Druckmann. “The more we tried to make Jak and Daxter like we wanted to, it didn’t feel like things were matching up. We have folders and folders filled with scrapped ideas.”

It sounds to me as if Naughty Dog has creatively moved on from Jak and Daxter, and while the company may want to revisit the series, if they're not interested in carrying on the franchise in a style welcomed and expected by the fans, then there's really not much of a point in doing so.  Imagine if the circumstances were reversed and Uncharted became a light-hearted animated romp, for instance.  While reinvention can bring wonderful new ideas to the table, dismantling key elements that make a famous game so beloved doesn't really do anyone any favors.  I'm very glad that Naughty Dog recognized that and decided to create something completely new instead.  After all, the last time someone tried to change a famous and top-selling animated-style fantasy world into something realistic, the result was this.