As Sony Computer Entertainment's publishing deal with Universal Interactive Studios for the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon series were about to expire, Crash Developer Naughty Dog needed to come up with a replacement IP for the PlayStation's successor, the PlayStation 2. This led to Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, which was Sony's big Holiday title of 2001, and like Crash was a smash hit. The game started out as your typical E-rated Platformer, filled with bright colors, unique enemies, and a sense of child-like adventurous whimsy. Many fans were excited to see what the next installment would be like... And it would be none of those things.

Jak II is probably the biggest tonal shift ever for a video game series, and I'm willing to bet the reactions to it were bewildering. "Wait, Jak is talking now?", "WOAH Swearing!?", "GUNS!?", "Car Jacking!?", "What the Hell is this!!?". According to Naughty Dog, the reason for the bizarre shift in tone was because gamers were getting older and wanted more mature and violent games. That meant their little open-world E-Rated platformer, had to become a T-rated, GTA-lite. Look, it's not that Jak II or III are bad games, far from it, but Jak II doesn't feel like it was made the way it was because somebody at Naughty Dog had a radical idea for the Jak & Daxter universe, it felt like it was made because the marketing team at Sony told them that Open World, Vehicle jacking was really hot right now and wanted to capitalize on that. A lot of people like Jak II and I can see why, it's still a very polished and well designed platformer even with the "Edge". But the darker tone and GTA elements always felt like a cynical, corporate cash-grab, rather than a genuine creative direction to me. Gamers were older than before sure, but they they still like bright, colorful platformers as much as kids do.

TBH, I felt Insomniac handled the tone shifting with their next series, Ratchet & Clank better than ND did with Jak. Ratchet's edgier and more violent than Spyro, but it still has a sense of colorful whimsy and self-awareness to it. It didn't have to try and rub its edge in your face like Jak II did.

Naughty Dog has made some fantastic games since then, but the the darkening of Jak & Daxter always felt like an unnecessary decision IMO.