The Growth of the Naughty Dog Franchise!
Franchises are becoming quite a common thing in todays video game industry, some of the most successful ones getting their number of titles up in to double figures. Franchises help us gamers get straight to the action as there isn’t as much need for background stories to set the scene, as we saw it first hand in previous titles. Also games in a franchise don’t just end, we are sometimes treated to a cliff hanger ending, which builds up suspense and gives us something to look forward to by way of the next outing. Many major game developers have at least one franchise in their gaming arsenal, which is sometimes there sole focus for many years, which can sometimes make the games become drawn out and fans may start to lose interest. One company that knows how to let a franchise run its course and then bow out on a high is Naughty Dog. Not only have they had 3 very successful franchises, they have all been the face of the consoles they were released on.
Naughty Dogs first franchise came about when Crash Bandicoot landed on the original Playstation back in 1996. The game is a platform based action title, which are mostly set on the fictional islands of Wumpa Islands. Even though they are mostly platformers, there are several spin-offs over different genres. Crash’s quiet life on Wumpa Island is often interrupted by the series main antagonist, Doctor Neo Cortex, who is responsible for creating Crash and now wants to destroy him. It’s usually up to Crash to defeat Cortex and stop his plans for world domination. Under Naughty Dog ownership, the Crash Bandicoot series saw 3 successful platformers and a racing title, until they sold the rights to Eurocom in 1999. Since then the series has seen ownership from several different developers and haven’t been able to recreate the success it had under Naughty Dog.
When the playstation 2 hit store shelves back in March of 2000, Naughty Dog decided that this would be the perfect time to try their hands at a new series to rival the success of their last venture. Naughty Dog decided to stick to the platform genre, but update it for the 21st century, so at the end of 2001 we witnessed the birth of Jak and Daxter. These games had the same basic principals that we saw in Crash Bandicoot; avoiding enemies and obstacles and generally saving the world. Like everything though Naughty Dog had to evolve and brought in a couple new elements, such as puzzle solving and a whole host of different weapons and vehicles. The story of the games shows our two protagonists journeying across an unnamed planet trying to unlock the secrets of their world. The series consist of 4 main platform based titles, a racing title and Daxter’s own spin off for PSP. Naughty Dog still own Jak and Daxter, and brought out a HD rendering of the previous titles earlier this year.
With the launch of the Playstation 3, we saw a more powerful generation of console, and with more power, the gaming community what more game. The platform genre was dying out as people, wanted more freedom. Naughty Dog had to get there thinking caps on. Platform gaming was in their blood, it was what they did, so what they decided to do was come up with a series that had the feel of the classic platformer but more freedom of movement and action. The series in question was of course, Uncharted. After sticking as an exclusively Playstation development team, Sony obviously had a lot of faith in Naughty Dog, and decided to make the first Uncharted outing the consoles launch title for the PS3. The Uncharted series follows the story of modern-day treasure hunter Nathan “Nate” Drake, his mentor Victor Sullivan, journalist Elena Fisher, and a whole host of other companions and enemies as they travel the world looking to solve historical mysteries. The series includes 3 Playstation 3 titles and 2 for the Playstation Vita.
It is a very rare thing indeed for a company to have three successful franchises, let alone 3 that have pretty much dominated 3 separate generations of console, and with Naughty Dog release of their latest title, The Last of Us, on Playstation 3, are we looking at another future franchise hit. Looking at Naughty Dog’s history it is safe to say that aren’t really a one-off kind of development team, so hopefully with the success that The Last of Us has received thus far, Naughty Dog will have all the ammunition they need to make any future adventures starring Joel and Ellie the dominating force of the PS4, and keep up the trend set about by Naughty Dog’s previous successes.