Ratchet and Clank Return: Popular gaming series goes “Into the Nexus”Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
You run around a corner. You spy a group of alien mercenaries — henchmen of the evil Dr. Nefarious — standing in front of you, ready to blast your furry butt into the next galaxy. Hardly seems a fair fight … for them. Not only do you come ready with an arsenal of effective and ludicrous weapons (personal rocket launchers, robot bodyguards, the gun that turns enemies into sheep, et al.), but your partner has got your back. Literally. You’re wearing him as a backpack.
This is the universe of “Ratchet and Clank,” a series of action titles produced by Insomniac Games, which have appeared on Sony systems for over a decade. Since the title characters first debuted in 2002 — one a cat-like creature called a lombax, the other a cute and precocious robot — they have saved the galaxy many times over. Exciting and action-packed, yet innocent and funny, the games have been a hit with the young and the young-at-heart.
But as the gaming community prepares to migrate to a new console generation, Insomniac has decided to wrap up the duo’s adventures on the current-gen PlayStation 3 with a new title, “Into the Nexus,” being released on November 12.
“[Studio director] Chad Dezern and I discussed the opportunity to make a smaller game that would serve as a wrap up for the Ratchet and Clank Future series and be more focused on the character stories of our two heroes,” said Brian Allgeier, the Creative Director of “Nexus,” in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star. “The team was very excited about getting back to making a single player game with an epic storyline and a lot of variety.”
Allgeier — who has been with Insomniac for 14 years now — was a member of the team that first developed “Ratchet” twelve years ago. He noted how the developers worked to make this new title a departure for the series on a narrative level, but back-to-basics on a gameplay one.
“Creatively, we set out to make a game with a spooky twist yet serves as a foil for that classic Ratchet and Clank humor. Our goal was to show how Ratchet and Clank have matured and create a storyline with some deeper themes that longtime fans would appreciate. The story encompasses a game that is structured similar to the earlier R&C games and is more in line with the series’ roots.”
Although the new title is relatively short compared to most previous entries — and priced accordingly at $29.99, about half the usual price for modern games — a return to traditional form would be welcome for some “Ratchet” fans. The last two titles — the multiplayer blast “All 4 One” and the tower-defense-inspired “Full Frontal Assault” — were received somewhat coolly by critics. Allgeier argued that the new direction was not simply a response to that reaction, however.
“We certainly pay attention to our reviews and fan feedback, but what is most important is that we make the games that we want to play,” Allgeier said. “I’ve been developing games for over 20 years and the one thing I’ve learned is that you have to make games that you are passionate about. The more you try to predict what focus testers want, the more the game becomes formulaic and calculated and lacks that creative spark.”
It’s an exciting time around Insomniac. Beyond the release of “Nexus,” work is underway on the developer’s first title for the next generation of consoles — “Sunset Overdrive” for Xbox One. And it’s clear Sony holds a high regard for the value of the “Ratchet and Clank” franchise going forward — it has been announced that an animated movie based on the characters will be released in 2015.
“Insomniacs have had a big part in providing some creative direction for the film,” Allgeier said. “TJ Fixman, the writer of Into the Nexus, has written the screenplay and frequently visits Rainmaker Studios in Vancouver who are animating the movie. Veteran Insomniacs, Dave Guertin and Greg Baldwin, are providing character concepts through their company Creature Box. And Ryan Schneider, Insomniacs Director of Brand Management, is serving as executive producer on the movie.
“I got a peek at an early version of the script and I think people will be very pleased.”
Allgeier also said he hopes fans will appreciate “Into the Nexus” as the labor of love it is — a valentine to an era of gaming, to a universe of beloved characters, and to the fans who have supported them.
“I hope it will serve as a nice reward for longtime Ratchet and Clank fans. This game comes from the heart and we put a lot of effort into a smaller and tighter experience packed with variety that often gives a ‘wink’ to past Ratchet and Clank games.”