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JR Stone's blog

11:57 PM on 04.12.2012

Jak 4: Remaking Perfection

So, I never posted on Dtoid before. I'm an associate editor for Flixist. I'm Jamie Stone, in case my screen name didn't give it away. I initially posted this on Facebook, but since I don't really know too many people who could even begin to relate nor understand my geeky ramblings, I figured I'd take my woes here.

In any case, I was researching the whereabouts of the Jak 4 game, given the recent release of the HD trilogy on the PS3. I knew that it obviously must have been cancelled, but I was curious if there was any other news on it. And there was.

Naughty Dog Almost Made A New Jak And Daxter

Well that was surprising... Not least of which was the news that they tried to revamp Daxter's look to be more anatomically correct or whatever. I mean, I know that Naughty Dog have "grown up," whatever that means, but why do they have to inject the feel of Uncharted into all their games now? Even that new The Last of Us game looks pretty Uncharted-y. Yes, the games are good, but there is such a thing as compartmentalization when it comes to a company's franchises. Thankfully they didn't go through with it, since they saw that they weren't going to please anyone--least of all the fans.

That brings up an interesting point, though. What is it with game companies who seem drawn to ruin their masterpieces? They create utter magic with their franchises, strike a harmonious balance, then move on to other games. Then, years later, they try to return to their roots to rip apart and retool the perfection of their previous creations. It's like, they need to be saved from themselves. I don't know if it's the collective hivemind of a studio that creates one thing and then evolves from a point to make other things, where soon enough they can no longer create the same kinds of games anymore... Maybe it's just the mind of an artist, where they're never quite satisfied with their creation and constantly feel the need to upgrade it, rethink it, remake it... which, as an artist myself, I can understand.

It also happened with [the now creatively deceased] Rare when they tried to revive Banjo-Kazooie--the complete and utter failure that was Nuts n' Bolts. They completely destroyed every core mechanic inherent to those classic games and replaced them with some idiotic car-building mechanic... I mean, the game was fun in a "building Legos" kind of way... but it's not Banjo. It never was. As soon as you take out Banjo and Kazooie's movesets and shift the emphasis to driving, it's no longer a Banjo game in my eyes... unless it's blatantly a driving game, like Mario Kart.. but no, they tried to trick the fans into thinking it was still the same game. They completely nerfed Banjo and Kazooie's moves to the point where it was like playing as an hollow shell of an avatar just so I can ride around in ridiculously built vehicles that have no finesse in their handling whatsoever. What was I really craving? Some intense platforming action.

So you can see what happens when a company completely ignores the sensibilities of the fans. Not only is the game put off for years and years, but once it's finally released, it's butchered beyond belief. Not that game companies should stifle their vision by catering exclusively to the fans, but those are the risks in creating a franchise and explicitly meaning for people to connect with those characters. They do have some responsibility for what they're putting out into the world. Just as people are complaining nowadays about the triviality of the Mass Effect ending, the entirety of Nuts n' Bolts was like a big slap in the face to the fans.

Getting back to Jak & Daxter, Naughty Dog admits that a sequel is not out of the question in the future, which might be for the best considering that they need to crave THAT universe again before they can really get into it or else they'll destroy it. Personally, it seems to me like they lost a major asset in Bob Rafei, the Jak trilogy's concept artist and what I would call the heart and soul of the Jak game's overall look and feel. I mean, just look at these designs. Bob left some years ago to make BigRedButton studios with some colleagues of his, but it doesn't seem like a whole lot is coming from them at the present moment. Pretty sad to see such talent wasted.

I think if they just passed the gauntlet of Jak 4 onto another developer (akin to what's happening with the Sly franchise, although that was a big stroke of luck), perhaps the fans will get a game they want while Naughty Dog can focus on gritty realistic games like The Last of Us.

And in case any of you were wondering, no, The Lost Frontier doesn't count as Jak 4.   read

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