Naughty Dog has been making PlayStation games since the brand’s earliest days, and with the remastered Crash Bandicoot Trilogy bringing us full circle on its PlayStation legacy, and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy on the near horizon, we here at PSU decided to rank every Naughty Dog PlayStation title from 1996 to present day.
Without further ado, here’s a list of Naughty Dog games ranked in order of our preference, so join us on a journey from Bandicoots to Bloaters.
14. Crash Bandicoot (1996)
Crash was Naughty Dog’s first association with the PlayStation band, and the orange marsupial became something of a mascot for Sony’s first console. While nothing revolutionary in terms of 90’s platformers, Crash was there on the console that catapulted gaming into the mainstream, and as a result, he and his game’s sit fondly wrapped in nostalgic joy by many young players who had just discovered gaming.
13. Jak X: Combat Racing (2005)
Jak and Daxter’s bright start led to a wild departure from its genesis. So when the series was capped off with a racing game, it didn’t feel at all unusual. After all, vehicles had played a huge part in both Jak II and Jak 3, and the Mad Max style appeal of those found in Jak X made for a fun racer loaded with weaponry. It feels a touch charmless in retrospect, but at the time, it was a good as any similar character racer about.
12. Jak 3 (2004)
The metamorphosis of Jak from cheery 3D platformer to GTA-fuelled platformer was startling enough, but Naughty Dog dug deeper into the trunk of edginess, and threw a cloak of Mad Max onto Jak 3. Open deserts, combat arenas, and a heavier reliance on vehicles, meant the third in the series felt completely alien to the origin point, but it was still one of the better sandbox adventures of its time.
11. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (1998)
The orange one barely strayed too far from jumping on crates and spin attacks during his PS One trilogy, but he, and Naughty Dog, did improve with each entry. Warped saw Coco Bandicoot become a playable character, and the vehicle sections were amped up. Arguably, Warped is the absolute high point of the Crash formula.
10. Jak II (2003)
Jak II is a very good action adventure game, and easily the first recognisable touchstone of what Naughty Dog would evolve its games into. It is also a massive departure from The Precursor Legacy, adding guns, a variety of vehicles, and a futuristic cityscape to what was essentially a 3D expansion on the Crash Bandicoot formula. It remains a divisive title because of this transition, with fans of both styles. Ultimately, this style won out, and bled into the DNA of Uncharted when the next console generation came along.
9. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (1997)
More of the same? Yes in the sense most levels could have been offcuts from the first game, but there’s a refinement to the core of Crash 2 that sees it improve on the original without stepping too far from what made it work. It’s a more well-rounded platformer, and feels far more its own thing than a clone of any number of character-led jumpathons.
8. Crash Team Racing (1999)
Crash already got enough jabs for being an inferior to certain other platform heroes that wear overalls, so when Naughty Dog and Crash followed the mustachioed one into the realm of kart racing, you could hear eyes rolling in sockets across the globe. Despite this trepidation, Crash Team Racing turned out to be one of the best kart racers ever made, and arguably provided the orange one with his finest PS One game. The purity of the multiplayer joy made it a firm favorite for many a PlayStation fan at a time the console was going supernova.
7. Uncharted Drake’s Fortune (2007)
Having kicked off the previous two generations in solid fashion with a new IP, Naughty Dog did it again on PS3 when the culmination of all that sassy dialogue, platforming, and gun-fighting being Uncharted, an Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider style adventure that didn’t feature a single fuzzy-faced character (unless you count Sully’s mustache). While the handling was pretty wonky, and the gunplay equally so, the characters and the actors behind them really sizzled and popped with good chemistry. What it did do well was usurp the declining Tomb Raider franchise, whilst being its own thing. Drake’s Fortune laid the foundations for a promising future, but looking back, it feels somewhat apart from its successors.
6. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (2001)
Building on the bones of Crash Bandicoot, Naughty Dog entered the PlayStation 2 generation by improving on that winning formula and delivering a new hero (and annoying sidekick) in a proper 3D platformer full of charm and good humor. Jak and Daxter felt like one of the last true platformers, outside Nintendo, before the indie scene resurrected the genre. Even its sequels would betray their platforming roots. It holds up pretty well to this day, and acts as Naughty Dog’s final farewell to its more innocent era.
5. The Last of Us: Left Behind (2014)
A standalone prequel of sorts to the main version of The Last of Us, Left Behind recalls the story of how Ellie got bit, and how she ended up alone before being embroiled in the events of the main game. It also covers the lost time between Joel’s accident, and the section of The Last of Us where you first take control of Ellie. The most important story thread here though has to do with Ellie’s last adventure with her friend Riley. It’s a bittersweet tale of young friendship in a less than ideal time, and it gives us that bit more time with Ellie, one of the most interesting characters Naughty Dog has created.
4. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (2016)
If A Thief’s End is to be Nathan Drake’s swansong, then it will be a fine one indeed. For the supposed final installment of the Nathan Drake story, Naughty Dog brought all it learned from The Last of Us, and the result is a better Uncharted in terms of gameplay and story. The set piece moments still shine, the locales are positively dazzling, and the ‘one last job’ narrative involving Drake’s reunion with his long-lost brother is the most effective storytelling in the entire series.
3. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (2011)
Uncharted 3 has some truly exceptional moments. From hanging out of the back of a cargo plane, to escaping a sinking cruise liner, Drake’s Deception was not short on spectacle. If you could level criticism at the games door, you could argue it has pacing issues, a needless, if enjoyable, romp with modern pirates, and that it take’s Nathan Drake’s ability to destroy everything he touches to ridiculous new heights. Still, this is Naughty Dog at the height of its powers, and this adventure remains a largely compelling one.
2. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009)
Nathan Drake’s adventures hit the big time with Uncharted 2. Spectacular set pieces, bigger puzzles, and a riveting story saw Uncharted become a PlayStation icon, and moved Naughty Dog into the elite. It was with Uncharted 2 that the PS3 finally got the big exclusive fans had been craving, and arguably, it helped the PS3 turn itself around from that rocky start.
1.The Last of Us (2013)
After all the action and over the top destruction of Uncharted, Naughty Dog’s foray into post-apocalyptic adventure was a brutal, somber affair, and arguably one of PlayStation’s finest games of all time. In The Last of Us, Joel and Ellie’s heart-wrenching journey through a fungus-infected America to an apparent salvation for humanity might not have the grandiose spectacle of the series that came before it, but it does have a genuinely mature story and an uncompromising level of bleak brutality.
But what about you? What are your favorite Naughty Dog games in PlayStation history? Sound off in the comments!