Naughty Dog is the talk of the town and it’s something Xbox owners will never understand.  Currently they are known for the highly successful Uncharted series, but that isn’t the beginning of their success.  Most will probably know the history of Naughty Dog, but on the off chance some don’t, reading this will certainly give you a quick general idea of what they have accomplished.  However, this is only the tip of the massive iceberg that Naughty Dog is.  Like most origin stories, the creators of Naughty Dog started with two high school students wanting to create something.  Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin’s creation was Jam Software and that would soon transform into the company Naughty Dog.  They created a few early works, but the first big success came on the Playstation system.

The name Crash Bandicoot should ring a bell. Being one of the highest selling video games on the original Playstation, there is no doubt this game was a huge success. Setting a new standard for platforming, it took the world by storm with what the Playstation was capable of.  2D games were still the main gaming style and the move to 3D was just happening (This is even before Mario 64 which really revolutionized the gaming world). This is where the nickname “Sonic’s Ass game” for Crash Bandicoot was created, since you are always looking at his…back, rather than from a side view (Some levels are from the side to keep familiarity to the player). Naughty Dog jumped head first into something they previously had no experience with, and signed with Sony, a company just producing its first console. They planned on having Crash compete against Mario on Nintendo and Sonic on Sega, which helped inspire their move to Sony since there was no iconic character yetTalk about risky moves but Naughty Dog has a thing about going where no one else dares to.  With Crash Bandicoot, earning multiple sequels and spinoffs as well as being a household name even to this day proves it was the right decision (quick trivia #1: They came up with the idea for Crash Bandicoot on a three day ride from Boston to LA).

The next highly successful series from Naughty Dog came on the Playstation 2 system.  Jak and Daxter should also ring those recognition bells in your head.  Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy didn’t make the top ten list of highest selling PS2 games, but it was top fifteen, which isn’t bad by any means, especially since all four Jak titles are labeled as greatest hits  Not only is this another highly successful series, but it differs from Crash Bandicoot.  Technically it is a platformer as well, but on a much larger and more in-depth scale since the PS2 system had the capabilities. This is important that Naughty Dog always uses the system’s abilities to the fullest to ensure an amazing game. To such an extreme point that when Mass Media began remastering the series for the Jak and Daxter HD collection they were having problems because Naughty Dog had so many custom changes involving coding and the programming language, it was difficult to decipher. Naughty Dog will spend more money and time to create software and make changes to programs to ensure the best of the best.  There is no need to mention the incredible world and story that Jak and Daxter held, since it goes without saying that Naughty Dog has a knack for creating amazing worlds, and some of the most memorable characters.  It’s also the little things that they considered long before most other game developers.  Jak having a different walk when in water is simplistic but so far ahead of the game back in 2001. Naughty Dog always seems to be ahead of everyone since this game even received a couple Guinness World Records including first 3D seamless console game, meaning no loading times, which is always a beautiful thing. They didn’t want the game to feel like you were playing ‘levels’ but to feel as if you were always in the actual world from start to finish. Andy Gavin created the programming language Game Oriented Assembly Lisp to further advance the overall game before Sony more or less forced them to switch to C++ (quick trivia #2: there was originally going to be three main characters).

Now this brings me to the PS3, with Naughty Dog’s most famous games yet, the Uncharted series.  As of right now both Uncharted 2 and 3 are in the top ten highest selling PS3 video games. Changing complete styles of gameplay and settings, Uncharted is not cartoony but a realistic adventure setting.  The stories are often spectacular on the level of cinematic movies (excluding Uncharted 3 which was lacking somewhat). The characters are still amazing; possibly some of the best since Nathan Drake has become another Playstation icon. Naughty Dog has created three recognizable icons for Playstation if we’re keeping count (Which we are).

Anyone who has played Uncharted will know the visuals are incredible, not just the graphic engine alone but the detail put into the environments. Uncharted is filled with lush jungles and wonderful ancient cities, but more importantly for those that don’t know, it’s said that hair, clothes, fire, and water are some of the hardest things to animate (Not that anything else is easy).  Uncharted is filled with all of those; the Chateau in the third game is one of the most extraordinary levels in modern gaming, along with the Cruise ship in the storm. As stated in the aforementioned, it isn’t the big things but the little things. The fact that Nate gets snow or sand in his hair when he rolls is simplistic but incredibly enjoyable, and for some reason seeing him skip steps while going up or down stairs is equally rewarding. Naughty Dog took it one step further in Uncharted 3. The ability to melee someone with no ammo and grab their gun in an effortless quick cut scene is simple, but remarkable at the same time (quick trivia #3: Since there was so much content they were actually worried about running out of space on Blu-ray discs!).

Naughty Dog continues to innovate and improve their games. Each Uncharted game added or fixed gameplay elements to make them even better, just like the other two preceding series of Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter. Both series made improvements as they went along to better the next game from the predecessor. This constant improvement and never settling for less is what keeps Naughty Dog fresh and welcoming each game that comes out.  Not to mention their ability to never fall into the same old trends of video gaming.  A simple look at the online multiplayer of Uncharted 3 will prove that statement.

This is the reason why I am so excited for The Last of Us, the next Naughty Dog title.  It looks amazing enough as is, but adding in NaughtyDog’s track record only excites me even more.  They have yet to make a game that has failed, and following this logic, it’s almost science that The Last of Us must be a success. In reality, since there is no theorem or equation to prove that The Last of Us will truly be a good game, we must base our hopes on what we’ve seen so far and that once again Naughty Dog doesn’t disappoint. As I keep saying, it’s the little things. Incredible realism can be found in something so simple, small, and obvious, like watching Joel empty a revolver to extract ammo.
Not to mention Ellie is a wise AI companion and the enemies who recognize the click of an empty gun (which can be used as a trap) takes real world effects and incorporates them into a game. The little things are what takes a good game and skyrockets it up into the realm of amazing games, and The Last of Us looks like it could be that next amazing game from arguably one of the best video game developers around (quick trivia #4: production of Jak 4 was being considered but Naughty Dog decided to make The Last of Us instead).

About The Author

Neil has had a passion for video games ever since the Atari entered his life so many years ago. He's been writing about them for over two years and sees no end in sight. Reach out to him on twitter @nconnors13

2 Responses

  1. Michael A.

    Naughty Dog is a phenomenal video game developer, and there’s not one project they don’t work immensely hard on. A series like Uncharted deserves the praise it’s given by so many gamers, including myself. ND will continue to impress gamers and the industry of gaming as long as they are around, and I for one am very excited to see what Naughty Dog’s future will bring.