On Poetry, Prose, and Videogames

JLawrence Kenny

Favorite Video Game Character: Ratchet, from Ratchet & Clank

on December 15, 2011

Every good game needs good characters. A great plot, great gameplay, doesn’t mean anything if your protagonist is an annoying jerk, your villain is shoddily put-together, or you’re playing a FPS. (No offense, HALO fans) If the characters in the game aren’t relatable or likable, then the player won’t want to play the game, since the essence of the game is following these characters around and how they drive the plot forward. So while I’m preparing for finals this year, I thought I would introduce you to my favorite videogame character: Ratchet, from the Ratchet & Clank game series.

Ratchet's first ship. Who's a good little Lombax? You are!

Ratchet is a Lombax – a bipedal, feline alien race with an affinity for technology – and the games follow his exploits as he saves the universe numerous times from the forces of evil. The current count stands at eight rescues over the course of ten games. Growing up alone on the planet Veldin, Ratchet finally manages to leave the planet with the help of a small robot named Clank, who both become friends, though not without the occasional dispute, and even quicker become caught up in saving the Solana Galaxy from the evil machinations of Chairman Drek, as he made his way through the galaxy, stealing chunks from planets in order to build a new homeworld for his people. Along the way, they meet series regulars Skid McMarx, Captain Qwark, Helga, Big Al, and a whole cast of other characters, all of whom play vital roles in the plot. After saving the galaxy from Drek, Ratchet and Clank retire for a brief few months before being drafted into saving another galaxy, and then another, a vicious cycle of being heroes which is still going on today.

Pop culture references too. Never subtle, either. Never

Ratchet is a very well-developed character for a videogame. Rather than the stereotypical hero – especially ironic, seeing as the “hero” in the R&C universe usually winds up ruining the day more often than saving it – we have a character with a whole range of emotions that develops over the course of the series, like his short temper and his early selfish, almost narcissistic personality, though his snarky humour kept him likable. In the original game, Clank practically has to blackmail Ratchet into saving some of the worlds they come across, and the writing made his personality change make sense, slowly coming to realize just how horrible the villains were and becoming more dedicated to stopping them at all costs as he witnessed the devastation firsthand. Though he quickly matured through the series, becoming more humble and wise, he has never lost his wit or sense of adventure. Another positive point stems from the series itself, as it was never really created for a younger audience, despite its seemingly childish design, and therefore pushes boundaries on what’s acceptable, very often tossing in not-so-subtle innuendos and close calls with swear words. Because it plays to an adult audience as much as it does teens and kids, it can treat its characters with realism, touching on subjects like sexual tension that flesh them out, indeed making ones like Ratchet seem more realistic than some of his non-talied counterparts in the gaming business.

All the better to blow you into subatomic particles, my dear.

Undoubtedly one of the best things about this character, though, comes from the giant arsenal of weapons he utilizes. Aside from his trusty Wrench melee weapon, ratchet buys and discovers dozens upon dozens of weapons during his travels. From the basic Blaster, to the ultimate R.Y.N.O. (Rip Ya a New One), each one makes a bigger explosion than the one before, and has the capacity to be upgraded multiple times.  While truly more of an aspect of the game rather than Ratchet’s character, the fact that he and all Lombaxes have a natural affinity for technology, creating new devices and weapons all the time, it only seemed natural to include them, as a few of the gadgets and weapons you come across are Lombax created. Ratchet especially does lots of inventing during the downtime before and after games, which range from duds, like the speeder he attempts to build and then spectacularly crashes at the beginning of A Crack In Time, to hilariously implausible and unnecessary, such as his “Stun-derwear.” His creativity and obvious infatuation with technology gives the player another way to relate to the character, as they more than likely have an infatuation with technology themselves. And let’s face it, it’s just a lot of fun for the most part.

Especially those graphics. Just bleh.

In the end, that’s really what the character boils down to: fun. Though initially a bit of a jerk, Ratchet is an amusing character to watch, listen to, and play as, with wonderful, realistic character development, and a highly invigorating story that becomes more in-depth as the whole series continues. That’s the short story, but if you want the long story, I suggest you go play the games themselves, as they are all wonderfully entertaining in every way. I’m rather apprehensive about the newest installment “All 4 One,” but hopefully you’ll all get to read about my full experience with that game soon enough.

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One response to “Favorite Video Game Character: Ratchet, from Ratchet & Clank

  1. […] Favorite Video Game Character: Ratchet, from Ratchet & Clank(jlawrencekenny.wordpress.com) […]

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