Forums - Sony Discussion - Was Jak II the biggest example of "Corporate edge"?

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.


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Your OP have a lot of merit, I'll just disagree on the Sony Corp interference or demanding the shift in tone.
It was probably decision by the studio itself, unless you have some source or evidence for this because from all we know Sony allowed a lot of freedom for devs.
The shift for more mature themes and more violence in ND games have been growing ever since.



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DonFerrari said:
Your OP have a lot of merit, I'll just disagree on the Sony Corp interference or demanding the shift in tone.
It was probably decision by the studio itself, unless you have some source or evidence for this because from all we know Sony allowed a lot of freedom for devs.
The shift for more mature themes and more violence in ND games have been growing ever since.

Whatever the case was, It always felt unnecessary IMO. Like this wasn't made darker because they had new ideas to explore with a darker tone, it felt like was made that way because a focus group of edgy 12 year olds thought colorful platformers were an outdated and kiddy concept, and GTA3 was the new hotness. It just signaled to me that ND wasn't very confident in their own creativity. 



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Maybe Naughty Dogg themselves got tired of the kid friendly games? Trying new grounds. Sonic did the same for the same reason.



Daxter still had plenty of humor and the difficulty curve was probably the biggest change.



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Half of the PS2 library and marketing is ow the edge. It was just that time period. Gamecube in the US tried to be ow the edge marketing. Same with Xbox. Other games tried the edge in sequels. Devil May Cry 2 for example. Don't know if it was Sony themselves on Jak II but also just could have been the devs trying to be with the times. Early 2000s, in general, were all aimed at that teen male demo. Tech TV was turned in G4. TNN turned into Spike TV. Everything was just going that way. It was a dark time for games and pop culture.



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Daxter and Jak and Daxter The Lost Frontier were both published by Sony with no involvement from Naughty Dog. Both of those games had a much lighter tone in line with the original. If anything that shows that Sony favored the lighter side.



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I don't remember Jak II for being edgy, I remember it for the annoying over world (driving) and the big jump in difficulty. I abandoned the series on ps2 and didn't complete them until the ps3 remaster. 2 and 3 are still good games, just not as good as the first one. Ratchet & Clank only kept getting better and better leaving Jak & Daxter in the dust.

The edge generation wasn't all that edgy, still way better than the brown is realism generation, hence I spend a lot of time playing remasters on the ps3. Sly Cooper was a good trilogy as well which I had missed on ps2.

Games going more 'mature' and violent has been going on from the start. Look at how many war games there are on C64 then Mortal combat, Carmageddon, Wolfenstein, Doom, Postal, Manhunt, Silent hill, Splatterhouse series, MDK. Naughty Dog didn't want to make cute platformers, they were more interested in guns and cars which finally resulted in Jak X combat racing (never played it) I don't think marketing had anything to do with it.

What I would like to know is, who came up with the toe cringing dude bro festival stuff which is still so very annoying in Forza Horizon and Dirt series. Is that a push by marketing? Do game developers actually like that stuff? I did enjoy DJ Atomika before the festival crap took over. I miss that era, EA Sports, it's in the game. Still don't know what that's supposed to mean lol. I miss the days when SSX was good.



Not sure about tone change, I can't remember finishing the first jak game, but jak2 is my fav game of all the jak/ratchet games. Looking back it's one of the best games ever. Fine game for sure.



I’d be surprised if Sony handed down some edict to “go dark”. Probably the studio wanted to explore something different.

It’s a shame though. I adore Precursor Legacy. In my mind it’s a brilliant 3D platformer in the style of Nintendo and Rare. Jak II was a pretty significant step down and the series was never the same. If you had asked me in 2002, which series would end up better—Jak or Ratchet—I would have bet everything on Jak. But it fizzled out while Ratchet on PS2 got steadily better with each installment.