Naughty Dog had been working on a reboot to classic PS2 platformer Jak & Daxter before dropping the project to create The Last of Us, creative director Neil Druckmann has revealed.
The reboot would have seen the duo extensively redesigned, with Jak's ocelot buddy Daxter appearing far less cartoony than his original design.
"Back in 2009, our president Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra, we had just shipped Uncharted 2 and it was pretty successful for us, and they decided there was a lot of people on the team that were very talented but eager to do other stuff, maybe above the role they were at," Druckmann explained at the IGDA Toronto 2013 keynote.
"So they were like, let's start branching out, let's create this second team. They put Bruce Straley and I on the second project and our task was – and this is the first time we're showing this – to reboot this game, Jak & Daxter."
Druckmann explains that Naughty Dog "spent a long time exploring the world of Jak & Daxter and how would we reboot it", but that the ideas "weren't doing service to what fans of [the] franchise really liked".
"As much as we liked a lot of these concepts and exploring this fantastical world, we found that the ideas we were passionate about were getting away from what Jak & Daxter was," said Druckmann, "and we were questioning, are we doing this for marketing reasons and naming something Jak & Daxter when it's not really Jak & Daxter, or are we really passionate about it? And the answer was, we felt it was more for marketing and we felt that we weren't doing service to what fans of this franchise really liked – even if the reinvented Daxter is pretty good looking."
The team eventually decided to drop the project to focus on The Last of Us, with Druckmann reviving an idea for a zombie game he had at university almost a decade ago.
Druckmann explains that the idea for The Last of Us was born back in 2004 while he was in university and was given the opportunity to pitch a Night of the Living Dead game to director George Romero.
The idea saw a cop-like character protecting a girl in a world full of zombies, but was rejected by Romero. After graduating, Druckmann got a job at Naughty Dog, where he was able to realise his idea five years later.
Fans have been requesting a return to Jak & Daxter for years, with the last core release, Jak 3, launching back on PS2 in 2004. It's unclear whether Naughty Dog will return to the reboot in the future.
An HD compilation of the original trilogy released on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita earlier this year.