Geek History 101: Ratchet and Clank

 By: DC-Wolf 

With a newly released PS4 remaster of the original first Ratchet and Clank game as well as a new animated feature, the Ratchet and Clank video game franchise appears to be making another come back. With this, It’d be a great time to bring in a quick retrospective behind the creation of the original Ratchet and Clank game which spawned a great series of games.

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During the year 2000 when Insomniac Studio’s became an independent game studio they gave Universal the rights to their first successful game franchise, Spyro the Dragon. With this, they had to come up with a new game to debut alongside Sony’s upcoming new game console, the PS2. The first idea they played around with was “Girl with a Stick.” A year into the game’s development it lost steam as the team behind the game felt that they’ve hit a dead end. The project was eventually canceled. With this, the studio had to go back to the drawing board ad figure out what their new game should be.

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Enter Brian Hastings, Insomniac’s Chief Creative Officer. He proposed the idea of a reptilian-alien wo travels around a distant galaxy, collecting a rather large assortment of unique weapons along his journey. This concept later evolved into it being about a fuzzy alien caveman who is brought into a crazy space adventure by a mechanical lizard, on a quest to save the galaxy. From there the alien caveman eventually became the familiar feline-like, lombax alien. This lombax character also came with soon-to-become signature melee weapon, the omniwrench. With this tool the Insomniac team wanted a backstory was accompanied with it, which was what led to Ratchet’s occupation as a mechanic, as seen in the original PS2 game.

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Clank, the lizard-like robot previously mentioned also went through a series of different designs as well. With the need for the alien to have an assortment of gadgets, the robot became a sort of swiss army knife of nifty attachments, as well as becoming Ratchet’s own backpack, leading to his familiar diminutive, square-ish design.

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With the character designs for Ratchet and Clank finally nailed down, the folks at Insomniac began to see something special in this concept, and went on to start looking for the right engine to integrate into the game. The team went on to develop a test level diorama of what would become known as the iconic Ratchet and Clank stage, Metropolis, in order to simulate a game engine to show to the higher-up Sony executives. Impressed by what they’ve seen, the executive immediately approved financing the project. The level diorama that was used for this presentation also helped the Insomniac team set the precedent for the visual style for the rest of the franchise.

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Eventually, the first Ratchet and Clank game made its debut in November 2002, missing the launch date of the PS2 by two years. The game received positive reviews, aggregating an average score of 88/100 on Metacritic. With the overall positive reception, the original Ratchet and Clank game would then spawn several more sequels, most of which were just as well, if not better received by critics; particularly Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time.

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Overall, it’s interesting how Insomniac’s last minute attempt at creating a new game in order to debut alongside the PS2 led to the creation of the original Ratchet and Clank, and despite missing their deadline by two years they were still able to create one of Playstation’s most iconic video game franchises, which still brims with potential.

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Sources:

http://www.insomniacgames.com/ratchet-clank-10-years-of-concept-art/

http://www.ign.com/articles/2007/10/30/ign-presents-the-history-of-ratchet-and-clank

 

 

Cram Session: Vandal Savage

Vandal Savage is truly one of the DC Universe’s deadliest villains. He is an immortal that is practically the perfect tactician due to a literal centuries worth of knowledge and experience; and with this, he is a man who is able to live up to his namesake. As an immortal, Vandal Savage has left numerous marks in DC’s comic history, as well as its present. His overall history is worth going over in order to understand the sort of impact he left on the DC Universe.

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Vandal Savage’s origin starts out strange as he was born around 50,000 B.C. as the caveman, Vandal Adg (a pretty fancy name for a caveman…), and was the leader of a Cro-Magnon tribe. His life is inadvertently changed when a highly irradiated meteorite comes crashing from the sky near Vandal’s location. When coming into contact with the meteorite Vandal absorbed all of its energy and became a highly-intelligent immortal (‘cause in comics’ radiation gives you rad powers and not cancer…). Despite being highly intelligent Vandal has little empathy for human life as there have been records of him being the first cannibal in human history (talk about “savage and no chill”). Eventually Vandal would drop his last name “Adg” in place of “Savage.”

Savage would eventually make his first mark in human history as he formed a group that would later be known as the “illuminati,” who have helped aided him in successfully toppling and literally destroying the famed civilization, Atlantis.

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Throughout DC’s history he would adapt various names and personalities that would eventually become historically infamous including: two ancient Egyptian rulers (Khafre, Cheops), Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Blackbeard, Vlad the Impaler, and Jack the Ripper. He also served as an advisor for other infamous historical figures including: Erik the Red, William the Conqueror, Napoleon Bonaparte, Otto von Bismarck, and Adolf Hitler (‘cause nothing says evil like being bros with Hitler).

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It was during the 1940’s Vandal Savage came into conflict with the first iteration of “The Justice Society,” setting him up as a legacy villain for those who took on Green Lantern and Flash mantle. With his newfound hatred for the Justice Society, he would set up his own group, appropriately named, “Injustice Society;” with members including: Wizard, Brainwave, Gambler, Per Degaton, and The Thinker (no, not that Marvel villain…). Though they came in conflict with the Justice Society multiple times, they were never successful in defeating them.

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With his iteration of Injustice Society being unsuccessful, Vandal Savage would form another group known as the “Tartarus,” which has been covered in an earlier article on Damien Darhk.

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In later events Vandal Savage would attempt a financial takeover of New York through the distribution of “Velocity Nine” (the same drug that the “Rival” concocted years ago), as a drug to people in influential positions—including lawyers and stockbrokers, in order to control them. Wally West soon comes into the picture as he begins to notice that people are exhibiting similar speed powers as him. His investigation would bring him into conflict with Vandal Savage. As the two fought Wally was injected with Velocity Nine, temporarily leaving him powerless. Before Vandal could give Wally a second dose one Vandal’s subjects turns against him and injects him with the speed drug, rapidly aging him.

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Vandal Savage would later recover and play a prominent role during the events of, “Final Crises.” During this event Vandal Savage is approach by the organization, “Religion of Crime” (Their worst crime? Soliciting people at their doorsteps…I kid—kid…). They reveal to him that they ‘ve worshipped him as they believe that he is the Biblical Cain, the first murderer. The organization would then revive Cain within Vandal Savage by plunging the Pick—err I meant the Spear of Destiny into him (no innuendo, get your mind out of the gutter). As the newly-awakened Cain, Savage hunted down Spectre, the Spirit of Vengeance (who would have made his debut on Constantine…thanks NBC…) and enslaved him with the Spear of Destiny by separating him from his human host. The Spectre’s enslavement would only be temporary as the heroine Renee Montoya, under the guise of “The Question,” reunites the spirit with his human host. When back in power, though the Spectre spares Vandal Savage, he brands him with the “Mark of Cain,” opening him to eternal persecution by the human race until he faces God’s final punishment.

As reboots go, Vandal Savage’s status is soon reverted back to normal in the aftermath of the “Flashpoint” event. He is last seen as the leader for another group called, “Secret Society of Super Villains” (‘cause Savage knows how to keep a low profile), and is in conflict with Pandora (yes, that Pandora); and—oh yeah, he has a daughter in the FBI named Kate Sage.

Be sure to check out Casper Crump’s take on Vandal Savage on CW’s Legends of Tomorrow!

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Nerd Cram Session: Damien Darhk

By: DC

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With the 4th season of Arrow fast approaching it would be best to get to know the season’s new big bad, Damian Darhk, play by Neal McDonough. With only a brief mention in season three, Damian Darhk is shaping up to be one of Oliver Queen’s deadliest enemies. But who was this character before becoming (Green) Arrow’s newest antagonist? Below I’ll provide an overview on this character’s brief comic history, as well as what we could possibly expect from his character for the fourth-coming season of Arrow.

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Darhk made his debut appearance in the first issue of Devin Grayson’s 1999 run on Titans. During this run he only appeared for seven issues where he briefly acted as the leader of his own incarnation of H.I.V.E. (Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination). It was during the Titans event, Immortal Coil (Titans #10-12), that he played a significant role in the series.

He is first seen revamping the criminal organization, H.I.V.E.  at the behest of his surrogate mother, the H.I.V.E. Mistress, who vehemently wants the death of all costumed heroes. With H.I.V.E under his control, he recruits random criminals into his organization in order to take on heroes like the Titans. Before Darhk could further his agenda he soon finds his organization at odds with Vandal Savage’s super-villain team, Tartarus; a team consisting of Gorilla Grodd, Cheshire, Red Panzer, and Siren. Their goal is to capture the H.I.V.E. Mistress, whose blood contains the components needed for an immortality serum. It was at Darhk’s floating H.I.V.E. fortress where Vandal Savage was successful in his endeavor. With the H.I.V.E. Mistress captured, it is revealed that she is Slade Wilson’s—Deathstroke’s ex-wife, Adeline Kane Wilson. Deathstroke, alongside the Titans soon barge in in hopes of stopping both of Darhk’s and Vandal Savage’s forces. Before Deathstroke could save Adeline Kane Wilson, Gorilla Grodd slits her throat. As chaos ensues between the three parties Darhk reveals that his island contains a thermo-nuclear bomb, which he drops on the country of Zandia, the country his fortress hovers over. With the Titan’s distracted, Vandal Savage proceeds to stab Darhk as he and his team escapes the floating fortress. The Titans were able to successfully diffuse Darhk’s bomb before it could land on Zandia, and as they regroup it is revealed that a weakened Darhk was able to absorb some of Adeline’s blood, making him immortal—and that’s the last he is ever seen in a comic.

During the Immortal Coil event, it could be seen how the character’s Vandal Savage, Gorilla Grodd, and Deathstroke played an integral role alongside Damien Darhk. With these character’s already showing up on Arrow, Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, it could be entirely possible that this comic event could have some small influence over Damien Darhk’s arc for the fourth season of Arrow.

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