Sometimes l think it might be reasonable to compare my video game habits with that of a nine year old boy. With ADD. Hyped-up on sugar. On a snow day…I want visual stimulation everywhere, action, crazy and unrealistic weapons, and cheap jokes (mixed in with some clever wordplay). Just because it’s fun.
Enter Ratchet & Clank…most recently, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. Playing this game is like playing your very own Pixar movie…but with more violence (granted, violence that is appropriate for children 10 and up).
The premise of the game is a little involved…Ratchet & Clank is a series of games that build on one another. But if I were to over-simplify it, it goes something like this: Ratchet is trying to find/save his best friend Clank…a little robot that traditionally acts as his backpack/helicopter.
Clank, however, was built with a destiny: to care for the Great Clock. Located in the exact centre of the universe (give or take 50 feet), the Great Clock keeps time for the universe. There are some, however, including an exiled Lombax named General Azimuth and the evil Dr. Nefarious, who think the Great Clock is a time machine, and both want to control it…
The game is jam packed with colourful eye candy. The minuscule level of cartoon-like detail is not just reserved for the characters, either, it’s applied to everything else, as well…the weapons, the vehicles, the spaceships, and the many many landscapes. Be it outer space, desert planets, forested planets, water planets, frozen planets, or space stations, everything is there, right down to the space debris.
It’s great, because in effect you’re playing in a complete and detailed universe (the Ratchet & Clank universe), where you can pretty much come and go as you please with the help of your spaceship Aphelion, and a few time portals.
It’s also got a fantastic sense of humour. The miscellaneous super villains, for example, are imaginative, colourful and very expressive…I got a real kick out of the tongue-in-cheek nature of many exchanges in the game, such as this one:
Dr. Nefarious: Cassy, what is the status of Unnecessarily Evil Initiative Omega-91?
Cassiopeia: In motion, my love. The Lombax is now trapped in an over-elaborate death scenario designed to torture him into a slow, painful doom!
Dr. Nefarious: That’s Unnecessarily Evil Initiative Omega-96! I said 91! Does no one read my memos?
Does it get any better? In this game…it does…
In addition to the main story there are a whole slew of side quests, planets and galaxies to explore, including a series of championships to win in the Agorian Battleplex: a great arena for fine-tuning your fighting skills, winning lots of bolts (money), and upgrading your weapons.
Like Mr. Zurkon….a synthenoid that flies alongside Ratchet and helps him in battle by blasting enemies with weapons and insults, such as:
“Killing stuff is so much fun, do-da do-da! Zurkon kills stuff all day long, all the do-da-day!”
“Mr. Zurkon does NOT come in peace.”
“Yoo-hoo, Mr. Zurkon is looking to kill you.”
“Mr. Zurkon conducts a symphony of pain.”
“Are you ready to die? Because Mr. Zurkon is ready to kill.”
….and if you happen to have a Mr. Zurkon with you when you die (which, thankfully, doesn’t mean too much in this game):
“Mr. Zurkon is so ashamed…”
Truth be told…though I didn’t have a Mr. Zurkon out all the time, it was worth it to keep him around…you know: for company….and a few laughs…and to hear his ongoing commentary (which doesn’t only have to do with battle). He’s a really nice touch to the game, for the above-mentioned reasons, but also because he’s real handy in a fight.
But he’s only one of many weapons at your disposal – there are a whole slew of them that you can buy…and when you do, you get a great little 2D cartoon from the weapons’ manufacturer (called GrummelNet) explaining its features…for example: “The Rift Inducer 5000 was created to fill the death-by-interdimensional-being niche. The being, named ‘Fred’ by our engineers…” and so on (the Rift Inducer, by the way, opens a hole in the sky from which a series of tentacles from interdimensional being “Fred” will swat at your enemies…you can see the cartoon here).
It’s all very imaginative. And I think that’s the key.
So….what have we learned in part 2? Apparently, I play video games that appeal to my inner-child, and that stimulate my senses…I love colour and detail, imagination, and humour. In other words? I’m a big kid.
What games bring out your inner-child?
[ The above stills from Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time were gathered on a number of gaming sites, but were all made available by the games’ producers, Insomniac Games. ]