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