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Isay Isay is a 32 year old gamer living in Columbia, SC. I cut my teeth on the early Sierra/Lucasarts adventure games and honed my skills on the Genesis. I'm a proud poppa of 2. You might already be aware of my style of PUN-ditry

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PSN: Isay_Isay
Steam: Isay_Isay



Currently Playing
DS - Final Fantasy 6 Advance
PSP - Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
PS3 - #Darksiders2

On the Queue
Ugh Too many to list honestly

What's in a name?
So where does Isay Isay come from? Well to amuse myself, I name all my characters I say so whenever someone talks to them they sound like Foghorn Leghorn or what I thought English people sounded like when I was little. Needless to say, I'm easily amused.

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Isay Isay
11:32 AM on 10.21.2013










“Be funny, don’t be not funny”

This was the advice from the KissingSuzyKolber guys when they were over at Deadspin and it’s basically been my commenting philosophy ever since. Deadspin was (and still to an extent) an unfiltered alternative to ESPN where the comments were often better than the story itself. Each new story was another chance to make everyone else laugh and it was glorious. Over time, the site got Gawkerized more and more with stars and “featured commenters” until I just gave up commenting altogether. I still go back from time to time and it’s nice to see some familiar usernames.

So how does that relate to Dtoid? By virtue of being part of the Gawker network, I assumed that Kotaku was going to be a Deadspin-esque place for video game news. Suffice to say, that assumption couldn’t have been more wrong. Reading those comments hurt my soul. I would still scan the semi-gaming related posts to see what was going on and only delve into the comments if I was ever feeling too good about life in general. Every now and then, some stories would make reference to Destructoid. I was semi-aware of the site at the time and my only real experience with them at that time was through the podcast during the dark Summa days. Everything changed when someone linked to the Eternity’s Child review.

I was no stranger to a game being eviscerated (“Just another ___ game”, the Gamespot Big Rigs review, etc.), but what happened in the aftermath of that review made me love this site. Take 15-20 minutes and review those comments. I immediately felt at home with the snark already in the comments, but what pushed things over the top was the subsequent breakdown of Luc Bernard. I began to lurk shortly thereafter and revisited the podcast seeing that Summa was long gone at that point. Once Linde coined Der Siegelpuntz, the rest was history.

Looking back at that review, there are a bunch of names of people who have moved on which is sad but then that’s the nature of any community – people come and people go. The same is true for the writers here. It warms my heart to see people like Anthony Burch or Nick Chester get big opportunities on the other side of the industry, but if you step back and look at the full Dtoid family tree you’ll see how big an impression this site has made. This happened with Deadspin as well. That community made the sports blogosphere what it is today.

So I’m going to stick around and make my jokes as long as I feel I am able to because that’s what this site and this community has allowed me to do for so long. You’ve done an amazing job Niero and I’ll continue to support you as much as I can.

(Side note: If you’re looking to something to do for another couple minutes/hours go read the amazing Moon Man thread)








Cystic fibrosis is a devastating genetic disease that affects tens of thousands of children and young adults in the United States. Research and care supported by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation are making a huge difference in the lives of those with CF. My wife was diagnosed with CF when she was 13 and it is something that she deals with everyday. A year ago, we met Noah who is the same age as my daughter. He was diagnosed with CF at birth, but is a shining example of how far treatments have come. In the time between my wife’s diagnosis and Noah’s. there have been numerous new treatments which have increased the life expectancy for those with CF.

This year, I'm walking in the Great Strides walk at 2013 Columbia - Saluda Shoals, Riverbirch Shelter on 05/18/2013. Please help me meet my fundraising goal of $200.00 by sponsoring me. Your generous gift will be used efficiently and effectively: approximately 90 cents of every dollar of revenue goes to support vital CF programs.

If you would like to donate, you can do so here. Every little bit helps.

To learn more about CF and the CF Foundation, visit www.cff.org.







Isay Isay
7:50 AM on 01.28.2013

Puppy Bowl IX is just a week away so let’s get a good look at the competition

(Note: if you want to say goodbye to your productivity, just pull up the live look in stream found here


Name: Agatha
Breed(s): Miniature Pinscher
Fun Fact: Loves to be the center of attention and get everyone going
Isay Take: It’s easy to get others all riled up but I wanna see how she intends to finish things before I give her any change of winning


Name: Althea
Breed(s): Australian Shepherd/Catahoula Mix
Fun Fact: Loves to play and snuggle
Isay Take: Snuggling alone isn’t going to win you the prize, best bring it!


Name: Arlo
Breed(s): Labrador Retriever/Collie mix
Fun Fact: A totally amazing pup, originally from South Carolina
Isay Take: South Carolinians are going crazy for their local hopeful. Let’s see if Arlo can win one for the Palmetto State!


Name: Aurora
Breed(s): Siberian Husky/Retriever mix
Fun Fact: Loves to play, play, play and she loves toys
Isay Take: LEMME TELL YA THIS DOG! That’s 3x the play than other dogs. Clearly the early favorite if she can play her type of game.


Name: Bessie
Breed(s): Catahoula Leopard Dog mix
Fun Fact: A funny girl who always keeps people pinned
Isay Take: Love the attitude but you gotta get out there and mix it up. The ref has got to keep an eye on this one.


Name: Biscuit
Breed(s): Puerto Rican Sato
Fun Fact: Her mom is Julia Roberts so she is destined for greatness
Isay Take: Julia Roberts gave birth to a dog? Sounds about right.


Name: Blitz
Breed(s): Terrier mix
Fun Fact: Rode a plane, subway, AND a taxi in 24 hours
Isay Take: That’s a lot of travel before competing. You gotta figure it’ll affect Blitz’s performance


Name: Butterscotch
Breed(s): Puerto Rican Sato
Fun Fact: Rescued off of a beach in Puerto Rico called "Dead Dog Beach"
Isay Take: A real feel-good story that will certainly endear the fans. Any big play could seal the deal for Butterscotch.


Name: Cash
Breed(s): Pit Bull
Fun Fact: Loves belly rubs
Isay Take: Let’s see if Cash likes to get out there and Tango with the other puppies.


Name: Chestnut
Breed(s): Labrador Retriever/Australian Shephard mix
Fun Fact: Loves to play and snuggle
Isay Take: Got a lot of snugglers in the field. Could turn this game into a pillow fight.


Name: Copper
Breed(s): Dachshund/English Pit Bull mix
Fun Fact: Loves to shred paper
Isay Take: Bit of a ball hog. If he doesn’t spread the play around could cost him.


Name: Daffodil
Breed(s): Chow Chow/Labrador Retriever mix
Fun Fact: Loves to wrestle, but also likes to cuddle on the couch
Isay Take: Been inconsistent all season. The outcome of this game could greatly depend on which Daffodil shows up.


Name: Daisy
Breed(s): Yorkshire Terrier
Fun Fact: Likes to wrestle with her two brothers
Isay Take: Can’t wait to see her play with the big boys. LOVE THAT ENERGY


Name: Eli
Breed(s): German Shepherd/Pit Bull mix
Fun Fact: Favorite toy is from Dunkin Donuts
Isay Take: Can’t spell ELITE without Eli. May be too focused on his endorsement deals to really get out there and play hard enough.


Name: Elias
Breed(s): Pit Bull
Fun Fact: Was born in a Los Angeles animal shelter
Isay Take: Sounds like Elias is just looking to have a real good time



Name: Fitz
Breed(s): Catahoula mix
Fun Fact: Loves to pull his brother's tail
Isay Take: Classic instigator. Could be the monkey wrench that throws things wide open.


Name: Gunther
Breed(s): Pit Bull/ Hound mix
Fun Fact: Amazingly quiet and a really good cuddler
Isay Take: Oh God – it’s like he’s looking right through my soul.


Name: Harry
Breed(s): Chocolate Dachshund Smooth
Fun Fact: Is a lovable little terror
Isay Take: I’m a sucker for Dachshunds. Harry needs to use that low center of gravity to soak up all those big hits from the larger breeds. Could see some sneaky scores.


Name: Jenny
Breed(s): Pit Bull/Hound mix
Fun Fact: A very sweet girl
Isay Take: I may not be a smart man but I got a feeling Jenny is going to take to this game like peas and carrots


Name: Juniper
Breed(s): Great Pyrenees
Fun Fact: Is both a lover AND a fighter
Isay Take: Juniper was disqualified from competition after testing pawsitive (HA) for marijuana.


Name: Koda
Breed(s): Catahoula/Boston Terrier mix
Fun Fact: Voted cutest puppy in Howl's Kitchen Manhattan. He is Expert at riding the subway.
Isay Take: Unfortunately for Koda, this ain’t a beauty pageant. Not sure how subway riding skills are going to translate on the field


Name: Lenny
Breed(s): Catahoula Leopard Dog mix
Fun Fact: He likes to sleep on peoples' heads. It's something about the neck area, very warm.
Isay Take: Lenny is going to need to come up big on the defensive side and keep the smaller dogs out of the endzone.


Name: Magnolia
Breed(s): Chow Chow/Labrador Retriever mix
Fun Fact: Is very faithful and independent
Isay Take: I’m excited to see if Magnolia could blossom out there on the field. Can’t just sit on the sidelines and expect to win.


Name: Marta
Breed(s): Schnauzer/Beagle mix
Fun Fact: Loves to wrestle with bigger dogs
Isay Take: Another wild card. If Marta does a good job holding her own in the major pileups, she will have an excellent shot at coming out on top.


Name: Masquerade
Breed(s): Catahoula Leopard dog mix
Isay Take: NO FUN FACT PROVIDED - WE GOT A REAL MYSTERY HERE AMIRITE????????


Name: Nala
Breed(s): Japanese Chin
Fun Fact: Sweet and sassy, but she can also be very fierce with her brother Simba
Isay Take: Her size may not be enough to win so she is going to need to move-fasa than her competitors.


Name: Pearl
Breed(s): Australian Catahoula/Labrador Retriever mix
Fun Fact: A gorgeous blonde
Isay Take: Pearl has the size to handle anything on the field but needs to not get penalized for following Australian Puppy Bowl rules football.


Name: Sally
Breed(s): Dachshund/Basset Hound mix
Fun Fact: Loves to steal slippers
Isay Take: Dachshund Basset mix?!?!
/melts into puddle of joy
Takeaways are going to be key to Sally’s success and could throw other competitors off their game.


Name: Shadow
Breed(s): Catahoula/Labrador Retriever mix
Fun Fact: He is a really soft super snuggler
Isay Take: Now there are SUPER snugglers? This is lining up to be a real pillow fight.


Name: Simba
Breed(s): Japanese Chin
Fun Fact: Very playful and confident with other dogs
Isay Take: Aw man the brother is in this too? Um, something something running Scar-ed and Circle of Life


Name: Trinka
Breed(s): Schnauzer/Beagle mix
Fun Fact: Loves sleeping in hotel room beds
Isay Take: If sleeping is the best ability you got, don’t expect to last long on the field.


Name: Tuck
Breed(s): German Shepherd/Pit mix
Fun Fact: The only black pup in his litter of 6
Isay Take: /slowly backs away from that Fun Fact


Name: Willis
Breed(s): Long-haired Chihuahua mix
Fun Fact: A very very puppy with the funniest ears ever
Isay Take: Forget about the ears, you gotta keep that head on a swivel to avoid being blindsided.


Name: Winston
Breed(s): Miniature Pinscher
Fun Fact: The cutest of the litter and one of the hungriest.
Isay Take: Cute and hungry? Those are the ingredients for success!

All in all, a deep field with a lot of skill out there. The snugglers are going to need to step up and play along or play great defense if they want to outshine their more excitable opponents. If Aurora shoots out of the gate, this game will be over quick. But if she struggles that could open the door for wild cards like Daisy, Fitz or Marta. Hopefully the ref swallows his whistle and just lets them play. In the end, sit back, relax and enjoy the game. There’s even going to be hedgehog cheerleaders this year!

Oh yeah I guess there are storylines for the actual Super Bowl as well
Photo Photo Photo








UPDATE: Well, still no update on the Deadlocked HD. This is going to trickle into early 2013 (hopefully).
Post-impressions added for Up Your Arsenal, A Crack in Time, and Full Frontal Assault



WHY?
Zelda? You played one you’ve played them all. Kingdom Hearts? Pfft – Darkness Darkness Darkness Heart Heart Heart Sora Sora Riku Mickey. Resident Evil? 3 out of 10 NUFF SAYD.

With the release of the Ratchet & Clank HD Collection in honor of the 10th anniversary of the series as well as Insomniac’s recent announcement to move away from traditional single-player experiences, I thought it was good time to reflect on one of my favorite series. Of the three PS2 character platformers, Ratchet & Clank was the series that resonated the most with me*.

The basic flow of the series is pretty simple; you travel from planet to planet shooting anything that moves with one of the weapons from your diverse arsenal. Defeating enemies would net you bolts which you could use to restock your current ammo supply or purchase new weapons. Occasionally your progress will be stopped by a need for a new gadget to open a door or disguise yourself from alien guards. All the while you could scour the maps for special gold/platinum/titanium bolts or perform specific tasks to gain skill points which could be cashed in for a variety of special items such as skins or in-game cheats. With each iteration, you saw minor tweaks and refinements which on paper didn’t seem especially notable but had a HUGE effect on how the games played.

I’ll try to keep this blog consistent with other ____ Quests by recalling my original thoughts/reactions of the game as well as providing new post-impressions.

Ratchet & Clank – Release Date: PS2 (November 2002), PS3 (October 2012)

Status: Complete
My brother-in-law got a PS2 Christmas 2003 and Ratchet & Clank was the game I got to try. I didn’t have that much experience with the Spyro series, so I really didn’t know what to expect from Insomniac at the time. After a couple hours I was roped in by the crazy weapons and level design. When I got my PS2 a few months later, R & C was at the top of my list of games to go with it.

Post-impressions

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeesh – going all the way back to the beginning was some roof stoof. I took for granted how far the controls have come in the series. Overall, the level design was smart and the core weapons were fun to try, but I ended up favoring the classics (blaster/flame thrower/rocket launcher) unless I was absolutely forced to use something else.

Pacing is much slower since you only had (at most) 8 HP, so if you decided to rush into a group of enemies guns ablazing, be prepared to play through that sequence over and over again since the checkpoints were pretty spread out.

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando – Release Date: PS2 (November 2003), PS3 (October 2012)

Status: Complete
Having enjoyed the first game, when I learned that a sequel was already in the works, I was really excited. Going Commando is where the series moved to another level. Strafing, RPG mechanics, weapon modifications, arena battles– GC was the first game to introduce these mechanics. For people new to the series, this is probably the best starting point.

Post-impressions

That’s more like it! I forgot how much of a leap there was between GC and R&C. Prior to replaying, I had ranked GC on the lower end of the spectrum but given what it did for the series I am definitely giving it the credit it deserves. Insomniac really had some fun by experimenting with new weapons like the Bouncer, Chopper, and Miniturret Glove to go with the standard set from the previous game.

The absolute best thing GC did was the new experience system. Killing enemies would eventually allow you to gain additional health and also evolve your weapons into more power versions. The action was now more fast-paced since any failure would still net you some progress in the longrun. It also encouraged experimentation with your growing stockpile. Platinum bolts could be traded in for extra weapon mods (like a lock-feature or added acid/shock damage) which only made you a deadlier killing machine.

Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal – Release Date: PS2 (November 2004), PS3 (October 2012)

Status: Complete
Three games in as many years? What could they possibly do this time around? UYA brought further improvements to the weapon upgrade system, streamlined the gadgets and from a story perspective, introduced the perfect foil for the series, Dr. Nefarious. What we got was quite possibly the best entry in the series.

Post-Impressions

Your weapons could now level up 5 times from their original to the final upgraded state (with 2 extra levels in Challenge Mode). The extra levels integrated the mod system from GC as well as provided a small damage/ammo increases along the way.

What set this game apart from the others was the story. The hooks in R&C and GC were enough to move you planet to planet, but UYA provided some depth to the characters, namely Captain Qwark. Full disclosure – I kind of hate Qwark. In the first two games he was a bumbling doofus trying to regain his fame and the PS3 entries have made him a less funny Zap Brannigan. UYA managed to get me to somewhat care about his character. Oh, he is still an idiot, but it gave you the impression he was semi-competent at one point in time.

Dr. Nefarious is a menace but is equally as bungling as Qwark. Ultimately his character is much more tolerable given he has a straight man in Lawrence to balance things out. Nefarious has set put on an all-out war against the “squishies” and it drives him to take revenge on the only person who could potentially foil his plans, Qwark. The backstory between the two rivals is told through various Vid-Comics scattered throughout the game. These sections play out as 2D side scrollers starring Qwark as he reenacts his greatest adventures. With help from his fists, some luck and some heavy editing, Qwark triumphs over Nefarious and it propels him to the popularity we see at the beginning of the series. However, in a lost episode, it was revealed just how much of a coward Qwark truly was. In the end, Qwark swoops in and takes credit for your deeds but you understand that is who he is and that will never change.

Ratchet: Deadlocked – Release Date: PS2 (October 2005), PSN (TBD Q4 2012)

Status:
Around 2004/2005, we started to see games attempt a grittier, darker tone (e.g. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within & Jak II) and Insomniac followed suit with Deadlocked. Choosing to focus more on combat, Deadlocked only had 10 weapons (paltry by series standards) but eventually opened up the series’ mod system to adapt to your play style. For the entire game, Ratchet was separated from Clank, but you were given two powered up Synthoid partners to help you along the way.

Of the PS2 entries, Deadlocked was certainly the least appreciated and its omission from the anniversary collection was disconcerting. However, Insomniac did say that a HD version should be available for download before the end of the year.

Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters – Release Date: PSP (February 2007), PS2 (March 2008)

Status: Complete
Looking to bolster its PSP lineup, Sony had some new developers give their beloved franchises a go. Most notably, Ready At Dawn found success with Daxter and the two God of War: Origin games while High Impact Games were given the reigns to Ratchet & Clank with similar acclaim. Of course when I finally got around to buying a PSP, I had to go with the Size Matters bundle.

Post-Impressions

Well…that was certainly a portable version of Ratchet & Clank. High Impact Games did their best jamming all the controls on the PSP but what we got was frustrating to play. Strafing was done by using the D-pad while normal movement used the analog stick. You controlled the camera with both triggers, but at the same time you need to press both together to stretch jump or high jump. All in all, it was clunky. Graphically it was fine, but one level in particular went way too far with a hallucinating effect.

The one major gameplay update was finding different armor parts scattered about. If you equipped a full set or a specific combination of pieces, your melee attacks would gain some elemental effects in addition to increased defense, but I would have preferred finding or purchasing full sets only.
I’m sure the PS2 port would alleviate some of those annoyances with the advantage of the extra triggers and second analog stick. In the end, Size Matters really didn’t bring anything new or exciting to the series.

One last note, fuck that last boss fight.

Secret Agent Clank – Release Date: PSP (June 2008), PS2 (May 2009)

Status: Complete
High Impact’s next project was based off an in-game series spinoff (think a full blown Itchy & Scratchy game still set in The Simpsons universe).

Post-Impressions
The controls were simpler this time around since things were tailored to whichever character you playing which helped the game. Like with Size Matters, overall nothing really is added to the series with this entry.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction – Release Date: October 2007

Status: Complete
Of the original Sony 3, Ratchet & Clank was the first to see a release on the current gen console. This game and Valkyria Chronicles were purchases I made before I even owned a PS3. With the new hardware, the game was graphically leaps and bounds ahead of previous entries but stuck true to the formula. The forced SIXAXIS added some unnecessary frustration.

Post-Impressions

What makes this entry stand out is the changes to the weapon upgrade system. The standard upgrade system that has been used since UYA was still in effect, but now you were given the opportunity to invest a new currency Raritanium (which had already appeared in the series, but was used for space combat upgrades only) into a skill tree for each weapon. Upgrade options included increased capacity/damage, increased bolt/Raritanium drops and ultimately an added elemental component. I thought this new system worked really well and hopefully it comes back at some point.

What I can only assume was mandated by Sony, Insomniac worked in the new SIXAXIS control into various aspects of the game. During the freefall sections, you were forced to tilt the control all about in order to avoid missiles when simply using the analog stick would have been much easier. Most glaring, however, was the Tornado Launcher. When you fired that weapon, a mini tornado appeared that could be moved using your SIXAXIS. Using it in a firefight was like trying to pat your head, rub your tummy and hop on one leg all at the same time while reciting the alphabet backwards.

Oh yeah, Mr. Zurkon – pretty great.

Now where is that trophy patch Insomniac?

Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty – Release Date: August 2008

Status: Complete
The first ever download only entry into the series, Quest for Booty was designed to bridge the story between Tools and A Crack in Time. Ratchet sets out to find some way to locate his longtime companion with the help(?) of some rusty robot pirates and a mysterious treasure map.

Post-Impressions

There were already occasions in the series where Ratchet was without Clank, but Quest For Booty gave the developer a playground to experiment with how to potentially do an entire game for Ratchet without his trusty companion. At the beginning, you’re given a small portion of weapons from Tools but they are quickly Metroid-ed away. Most of the game is just Ratchet and his wrench. Your wrench could now attach itself to certain platforms which you could then lower or move them around to assist your progress. Additionally, you could pick up various objects like glowing slugs to act as a makeshift torch to avoid being attacked by enemies. You get your weapons back eventually and the game progresses like normal.

Is it necessary to play through? If you are coming into the series now and as a standalone purchase, probably not. The big story points are summarized during the install process for A Crack in Time. If this was added as an epilogue DLC for Tools it would be a much easier recommendation.

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time – Release Date: October 2009

Status: Complete
The final entry in the Future “trilogy”, A Crack in Time had Ratchet and Clank each embark on their own unique adventures for most of the game. Ratchet sought out the last remaining member of the Lombaxes and together they look for a way to bring their species back. Clank comes to grip with his ultimate purpose in the universe.

Post-Impressions
Prior to this quest, I had always felt that UYA was the pinnacle of the series given how much it solidified the formula. However, what A Crack in Time adds in terms of charm and mechanics (and factoring in the drop off the series has taken after its release), this is probably the best example of the series. Crack shares a heavy story focus for both Ratchet and Clank with each getting their own campaign until their goals inevitably crossing paths. After the events of Tools, Ratchet embarks to find not only his best friend but also is searching for a way to rescue his entire species from exile. Meanwhile, Clank comes face to face with his ultimate purpose for which he was created – managing the Great Clock which keeps the balance of time across the entire universe.

All the weapons are fun per usual (despite the inclusion of another Sixxaxis controlled projectile). The new mechanic was the Constructo line of weapons. Three of your weapons (a pistol, bomb glove, and shotgun) could be augmented with different mods which could for example change the type of ammo you fired or the shape of the explosion of your bombs. The best thing about the weapons had nothing to do with the gameplay, but was the how-to video that accompanied each new purchase. I mean honestly, can you watch these and not smile?






The Clank centric sections always played out the same in previous entries: Clank managed different minibots to attack enemies, remove obstacles, or open locked doors. Lather, rinse, repeat through each game until Crack. As a timekeeper in training, Clank ventured around the Great Clock making sure any time anomalies were fixed before they could cause any irreparable damage to the universe. Throughout the Clock, Clank encountered time manipulation puzzles which were where this game truly shined. Clank could make recordings of himself doing specific tasks that would repeat until they were overwritten. For example, you could run out to step on a pad that raised a platform. Then with your next recording, you could use the newly raised platform to reach the next task and so on and so until you finally reach the exit. The further you progressed, the more ingenious these puzzles got. Time manipulation was the latest craze with games like Braid and P.B. Winterbottom being released around that same time, but Crack was one of the first to use it in a 3D space.


Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One – Release Date: October 2011

Status: Complete
Fresh off the success of A Crack in Time, Insomniac set out to try something new for the series – a fully cooperative experience. All 4 One promised easy drop-in/drop-out co-op for 4 players each taking on the role of one of the series’ most iconic characters. You could deal extra damage to enemies by focusing the same weapon on a single target. Not to forget the original appeal of the series, those who wanted to play through the game solo were given an AI partner to accompany them.

Post-Impressions

Well Jim certainly wasn’t a fan due to a multitude of technical issues and unfortunately I experienced every single one during my playthroughs. The game overall is a competent but many of the design decisions added unnecessary frustration. Locking progress to a single character seemed like a good idea, but if you wanted to take your Ratchet/Clank/Nefarious/Qwark online, you had to make sure there was an open spot for that character. The first time I tried to join a open spot for a character I hadn’t used, all I had was the basic blaster which was essentially useless.

The co-op combat did have moments of brilliance. If your party focused the same weapon on a single enemy, a meter would fill over that enemy eventually resulting in a burst. This burst would damage or transfer the weapon’s effect onto any nearby enemy in the radius. Focusing the Critter Strike or Frost Cannon was the easy path to victory since their effects leveled anything in their path. The new gadget, the Vac-U, added some interesting puzzles in the RYNO piece sections, but in regular gameplay, it was race to not be the projectile.

If you do pick this up (currently it is free with PS+), I recommend starting with Qwark. His shield is the most useful gadget of the 4.

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault – Release Date: November 2012

Status: Complete
Touted as a more tower-defense focused entry, previews about FFA have been mixed. Amazon even lists “departure from R&C: All-4-One” as one of the game’s main features. With a release date in sight, I’m anxious to see how this game turns out.

Post-Impressions

FFA in some respects is a step forward from All-4-One but doesn’t quite measure up to the rest of the series. The game initially tasks you with restarting the defense grids on various planets after they we sabotaged by the game’s antagonist. The heroes must venture out to reactivate key nodes on the map but are called back to their main base at various intervals to defend against oncoming hordes of enemies. Once the key nodes are reactivated, the actual defense grid you can access the actual defense center to power up the system. Upon completing THAT task, there will be a final rush of enemy waves to your base while the system resets. You receive a medal for completing levels with additional medals available for completing the map within a certain time limit and protecting all your generators.

The tower defense system is relatively simple. There are two lanes that must be defended and you have a growing arsenal of tools at your disposal such as turrets, mines and barriers. Additionally, the player can chose to fight the enemy waves outside the base in hopes to defeat them before hitting your defenses. At first, it’ll be a combination of the two as you race back and forth between lanes since the initial set of defenses aren’t enough to take care of things on their own. But once you get those sweet sweet Warmonger turrets, it’s easier to keep exploring the map for objectives as waves come in.

Player weapons are handled differently in FFA than other entries. You start each map with Scattered across the map are pods, which players must successfully “hack” to unlock new weapons. The hacking minigame is simple enough, just press X whenever the bar is over a blue area (with bolt bonuses for hitting specific targets in those areas). Hit all the areas and you’ll be given up to 3 options for a new weapon for that map’s arsenal. There are similar pods to unlock the swingshot and heavy weapons like the Warmonger. The frustrating aspect to this system is not being guaranteed the weapon you want under the circumstances. Weapons can be leveled up to 3 times. As a welcomed change from All-4-One, your overall progress is tied to a single profile. Earning medals unlocks different ranks which grant bonuses to the player (such as quicker movement and health regeneration) which encourages you to replay levels. The time goals can be tricky since all cutscene time is included in your progress so plan accordingly.

FFA does feature both competitive and co-op multiplayer. Campaign maps can be completed with a co-op partner. Having a second player to both unlock weapons and protect your base greatly alleviates some of the difficulty (especially on some of the enemy waves in later levels) and is almost a necessity if you are hoping to beat the developer time goals. The competitive mode is a variation on the main game’s base defense (either 1v1 or 2v2). Each game is divided into 3 phases: Recon, Squad, and Assault. The Recon phase has the teams securing nodes across the map which grant new player weapons and generate bolts to fund base defense/offense. The Squad phase allows the player to invest in defenses for their own tower or create waves to be sent to your opponent’s base. Lastly, the Assault phase pits the teams against each other until one base falls. You can invest bolts into upgrades to your defenses (like more powerful turrets) or your offense (like armor for your waves).

Overall, it is a fun game but it still left me wanting another traditional entry. If you do pick it up, I do suggest playing it coop (if you need a partner hit me up PSN: Isay_Isay). Since there’s not official Dtoid review at this time, my take on it is a solid 6-6.5. At $20 and given that a Vita version is included as well (whenever that actually happens), it’s easy to recommend.

Final Thoughts

If Insomniac does decide to continue its co-op/multiplayer focus in the future of this series, allow me to make some suggestions. Combine the combat focus of Deadlocked with the co-op weapon damage mechanic of All 4 One. The player profile stuff in Full Frontal was a step in the right direction in terms of your online presence. Storywise, have Qwark and/or Ratchet open up a boot camp for potential heroes and in the process the cadets are tasked with saving the galaxy after the instructors are captured. Call it something like Ratchet & Clank: Private Contact. Let players take on major objectives as they see fit. If someone wants to do something on their own, make it challenging but give them a big experience boost. If they want to be more strategic, it’ll be easier to complete the tasks, but experience is divided up accordingly.

I wish Insomniac luck with Fuse. By what I’ve seen, at its core, there is a fun game in there, but the shift in art direction took at lot out of what got me excited for the game.

Best Game: A Crack in Time
Worst Game: Size Matters
Best Weapon (Non-RYNO): The Bouncer
Best RYNO: V3 (UYA)

Final Rankings:
1. A Crack in Time
2. Up Your Arsenal
3. Going Commando
4. Tools of Destruction
5. Deadlocked
6. Full Frontal Assault
7. Quest for Booty
8. Ratchet & Clank
9. All 4 One
10. Secret Agent Clank
11. Size Matters

Potential 2013 Quests:
Assassin’s Creed
Uncharted

*The correct order 1) R & C 2) Sly Cooper 3) Jak & Daxter #FACT








UPDATE: Well, still no update on the Deadlocked HD. This is going to trickle into early 2013 (hopefully).
Post-impressions added for Up Your Arsenal, A Crack in Time, and Full Frontal Assault



WHY?
Zelda? You played one you’ve played them all. Kingdom Hearts? Pfft – Darkness Darkness Darkness Heart Heart Heart Sora Sora Riku Mickey. Resident Evil? 3 out of 10 NUFF SAYD.

With the release of the Ratchet & Clank HD Collection in honor of the 10th anniversary of the series as well as Insomniac’s recent announcement to move away from traditional single-player experiences, I thought it was good time to reflect on one of my favorite series. Of the three PS2 character platformers, Ratchet & Clank was the series that resonated the most with me*.

The basic flow of the series is pretty simple; you travel from planet to planet shooting anything that moves with one of the weapons from your diverse arsenal. Defeating enemies would net you bolts which you could use to restock your current ammo supply or purchase new weapons. Occasionally your progress will be stopped by a need for a new gadget to open a door or disguise yourself from alien guards. All the while you could scour the maps for special gold/platinum/titanium bolts or perform specific tasks to gain skill points which could be cashed in for a variety of special items such as skins or in-game cheats. With each iteration, you saw minor tweaks and refinements which on paper didn’t seem especially notable but had a HUGE effect on how the games played.

I’ll try to keep this blog consistent with other ____ Quests by recalling my original thoughts/reactions of the game as well as providing new post-impressions.

Ratchet & Clank – Release Date: PS2 (November 2002), PS3 (October 2012)

Status: Complete
My brother-in-law got a PS2 Christmas 2003 and Ratchet & Clank was the game I got to try. I didn’t have that much experience with the Spyro series, so I really didn’t know what to expect from Insomniac at the time. After a couple hours I was roped in by the crazy weapons and level design. When I got my PS2 a few months later, R & C was at the top of my list of games to go with it.

Post-impressions

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeesh – going all the way back to the beginning was some roof stoof. I took for granted how far the controls have come in the series. Overall, the level design was smart and the core weapons were fun to try, but I ended up favoring the classics (blaster/flame thrower/rocket launcher) unless I was absolutely forced to use something else.

Pacing is much slower since you only had (at most) 8 HP, so if you decided to rush into a group of enemies guns ablazing, be prepared to play through that sequence over and over again since the checkpoints were pretty spread out.

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando – Release Date: PS2 (November 2003), PS3 (October 2012)

Status: Complete
Having enjoyed the first game, when I learned that a sequel was already in the works, I was really excited. Going Commando is where the series moved to another level. Strafing, RPG mechanics, weapon modifications, arena battles– GC was the first game to introduce these mechanics. For people new to the series, this is probably the best starting point.

Post-impressions

That’s more like it! I forgot how much of a leap there was between GC and R&C. Prior to replaying, I had ranked GC on the lower end of the spectrum but given what it did for the series I am definitely giving it the credit it deserves. Insomniac really had some fun by experimenting with new weapons like the Bouncer, Chopper, and Miniturret Glove to go with the standard set from the previous game.

The absolute best thing GC did was the new experience system. Killing enemies would eventually allow you to gain additional health and also evolve your weapons into more power versions. The action was now more fast-paced since any failure would still net you some progress in the longrun. It also encouraged experimentation with your growing stockpile. Platinum bolts could be traded in for extra weapon mods (like a lock-feature or added acid/shock damage) which only made you a deadlier killing machine.

Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal – Release Date: PS2 (November 2004), PS3 (October 2012)

Status: Complete
Three games in as many years? What could they possibly do this time around? UYA brought further improvements to the weapon upgrade system, streamlined the gadgets and from a story perspective, introduced the perfect foil for the series, Dr. Nefarious. What we got was quite possibly the best entry in the series.

Post-Impressions

Your weapons could now level up 5 times from their original to the final upgraded state (with 2 extra levels in Challenge Mode). The extra levels integrated the mod system from GC as well as provided a small damage/ammo increases along the way.

What set this game apart from the others was the story. The hooks in R&C and GC were enough to move you planet to planet, but UYA provided some depth to the characters, namely Captain Qwark. Full disclosure – I kind of hate Qwark. In the first two games he was a bumbling doofus trying to regain his fame and the PS3 entries have made him a less funny Zap Brannigan. UYA managed to get me to somewhat care about his character. Oh, he is still an idiot, but it gave you the impression he was semi-competent at one point in time.

Dr. Nefarious is a menace but is equally as bungling as Qwark. Ultimately his character is much more tolerable given he has a straight man in Lawrence to balance things out. Nefarious has set put on an all-out war against the “squishies” and it drives him to take revenge on the only person who could potentially foil his plans, Qwark. The backstory between the two rivals is told through various Vid-Comics scattered throughout the game. These sections play out as 2D side scrollers starring Qwark as he reenacts his greatest adventures. With help from his fists, some luck and some heavy editing, Qwark triumphs over Nefarious and it propels him to the popularity we see at the beginning of the series. However, in a lost episode, it was revealed just how much of a coward Qwark truly was. In the end, Qwark swoops in and takes credit for your deeds but you understand that is who he is and that will never change.

Ratchet: Deadlocked – Release Date: PS2 (October 2005), PSN (TBD Q4 2012)

Status:
Around 2004/2005, we started to see games attempt a grittier, darker tone (e.g. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within & Jak II) and Insomniac followed suit with Deadlocked. Choosing to focus more on combat, Deadlocked only had 10 weapons (paltry by series standards) but eventually opened up the series’ mod system to adapt to your play style. For the entire game, Ratchet was separated from Clank, but you were given two powered up Synthoid partners to help you along the way.

Of the PS2 entries, Deadlocked was certainly the least appreciated and its omission from the anniversary collection was disconcerting. However, Insomniac did say that a HD version should be available for download before the end of the year.

Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters – Release Date: PSP (February 2007), PS2 (March 2008)

Status: Complete
Looking to bolster its PSP lineup, Sony had some new developers give their beloved franchises a go. Most notably, Ready At Dawn found success with Daxter and the two God of War: Origin games while High Impact Games were given the reigns to Ratchet & Clank with similar acclaim. Of course when I finally got around to buying a PSP, I had to go with the Size Matters bundle.

Post-Impressions

Well…that was certainly a portable version of Ratchet & Clank. High Impact Games did their best jamming all the controls on the PSP but what we got was frustrating to play. Strafing was done by using the D-pad while normal movement used the analog stick. You controlled the camera with both triggers, but at the same time you need to press both together to stretch jump or high jump. All in all, it was clunky. Graphically it was fine, but one level in particular went way too far with a hallucinating effect.

The one major gameplay update was finding different armor parts scattered about. If you equipped a full set or a specific combination of pieces, your melee attacks would gain some elemental effects in addition to increased defense, but I would have preferred finding or purchasing full sets only.
I’m sure the PS2 port would alleviate some of those annoyances with the advantage of the extra triggers and second analog stick. In the end, Size Matters really didn’t bring anything new or exciting to the series.

One last note, fuck that last boss fight.

Secret Agent Clank – Release Date: PSP (June 2008), PS2 (May 2009)

Status: Complete
High Impact’s next project was based off an in-game series spinoff (think a full blown Itchy & Scratchy game still set in The Simpsons universe).

Post-Impressions
The controls were simpler this time around since things were tailored to whichever character you playing which helped the game. Like with Size Matters, overall nothing really is added to the series with this entry.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction – Release Date: October 2007

Status: Complete
Of the original Sony 3, Ratchet & Clank was the first to see a release on the current gen console. This game and Valkyria Chronicles were purchases I made before I even owned a PS3. With the new hardware, the game was graphically leaps and bounds ahead of previous entries but stuck true to the formula. The forced SIXAXIS added some unnecessary frustration.

Post-Impressions

What makes this entry stand out is the changes to the weapon upgrade system. The standard upgrade system that has been used since UYA was still in effect, but now you were given the opportunity to invest a new currency Raritanium (which had already appeared in the series, but was used for space combat upgrades only) into a skill tree for each weapon. Upgrade options included increased capacity/damage, increased bolt/Raritanium drops and ultimately an added elemental component. I thought this new system worked really well and hopefully it comes back at some point.

What I can only assume was mandated by Sony, Insomniac worked in the new SIXAXIS control into various aspects of the game. During the freefall sections, you were forced to tilt the control all about in order to avoid missiles when simply using the analog stick would have been much easier. Most glaring, however, was the Tornado Launcher. When you fired that weapon, a mini tornado appeared that could be moved using your SIXAXIS. Using it in a firefight was like trying to pat your head, rub your tummy and hop on one leg all at the same time while reciting the alphabet backwards.

Oh yeah, Mr. Zurkon – pretty great.

Now where is that trophy patch Insomniac?

Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty – Release Date: August 2008

Status: Complete
The first ever download only entry into the series, Quest for Booty was designed to bridge the story between Tools and A Crack in Time. Ratchet sets out to find some way to locate his longtime companion with the help(?) of some rusty robot pirates and a mysterious treasure map.

Post-Impressions

There were already occasions in the series where Ratchet was without Clank, but Quest For Booty gave the developer a playground to experiment with how to potentially do an entire game for Ratchet without his trusty companion. At the beginning, you’re given a small portion of weapons from Tools but they are quickly Metroid-ed away. Most of the game is just Ratchet and his wrench. Your wrench could now attach itself to certain platforms which you could then lower or move them around to assist your progress. Additionally, you could pick up various objects like glowing slugs to act as a makeshift torch to avoid being attacked by enemies. You get your weapons back eventually and the game progresses like normal.

Is it necessary to play through? If you are coming into the series now and as a standalone purchase, probably not. The big story points are summarized during the install process for A Crack in Time. If this was added as an epilogue DLC for Tools it would be a much easier recommendation.

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time – Release Date: October 2009

Status: Complete
The final entry in the Future “trilogy”, A Crack in Time had Ratchet and Clank each embark on their own unique adventures for most of the game. Ratchet sought out the last remaining member of the Lombaxes and together they look for a way to bring their species back. Clank comes to grip with his ultimate purpose in the universe.

Post-Impressions
Prior to this quest, I had always felt that UYA was the pinnacle of the series given how much it solidified the formula. However, what A Crack in Time adds in terms of charm and mechanics (and factoring in the drop off the series has taken after its release), this is probably the best example of the series. Crack shares a heavy story focus for both Ratchet and Clank with each getting their own campaign until their goals inevitably crossing paths. After the events of Tools, Ratchet embarks to find not only his best friend but also is searching for a way to rescue his entire species from exile. Meanwhile, Clank comes face to face with his ultimate purpose for which he was created – managing the Great Clock which keeps the balance of time across the entire universe.

All the weapons are fun per usual (despite the inclusion of another Sixxaxis controlled projectile). The new mechanic was the Constructo line of weapons. Three of your weapons (a pistol, bomb glove, and shotgun) could be augmented with different mods which could for example change the type of ammo you fired or the shape of the explosion of your bombs. The best thing about the weapons had nothing to do with the gameplay, but was the how-to video that accompanied each new purchase. I mean honestly, can you watch these and not smile? (find example).




The Clank centric sections always played out the same in previous entries: Clank managed different minibots to attack enemies, remove obstacles, or open locked doors. Lather, rinse, repeat through each game until Crack. As a timekeeper in training, Clank ventured around the Great Clock making sure any time anomalies were fixed before they could cause any irreparable damage to the universe. Throughout the Clock, Clank encountered time manipulation puzzles which were where this game truly shined. Clank could make recordings of himself doing specific tasks that would repeat until they were overwritten. For example, you could run out to step on a pad that raised a platform. Then with your next recording, you could use the newly raised platform to reach the next task and so on and so until you finally reach the exit. The further you progressed, the more ingenious these puzzles got. Time manipulation was the latest craze with games like Braid and P.B. Winterbottom being released around that same time, but Crack was one of the first to use it in a 3D space.


Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One – Release Date: October 2011

Status: Complete
Fresh off the success of A Crack in Time, Insomniac set out to try something new for the series – a fully cooperative experience. All 4 One promised easy drop-in/drop-out co-op for 4 players each taking on the role of one of the series’ most iconic characters. You could deal extra damage to enemies by focusing the same weapon on a single target. Not to forget the original appeal of the series, those who wanted to play through the game solo were given an AI partner to accompany them.

Post-Impressions

Well Jim certainly wasn’t a fan due to a multitude of technical issues and unfortunately I experienced every single one during my playthroughs. The game overall is a competent but many of the design decisions added unnecessary frustration. Locking progress to a single character seemed like a good idea, but if you wanted to take your Ratchet/Clank/Nefarious/Qwark online, you had to make sure there was an open spot for that character. The first time I tried to join a open spot for a character I hadn’t used, all I had was the basic blaster which was essentially useless.

The co-op combat did have moments of brilliance. If your party focused the same weapon on a single enemy, a meter would fill over that enemy eventually resulting in a burst. This burst would damage or transfer the weapon’s effect onto any nearby enemy in the radius. Focusing the Critter Strike or Frost Cannon was the easy path to victory since their effects leveled anything in their path. The new gadget, the Vac-U, added some interesting puzzles in the RYNO piece sections, but in regular gameplay, it was race to not be the projectile.

If you do pick this up (currently it is free with PS+), I recommend starting with Qwark. His shield is the most useful gadget of the 4.

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault – Release Date: November 2012

Status: Complete
Touted as a more tower-defense focused entry, previews about FFA have been mixed. Amazon even lists “departure from R&C: All-4-One” as one of the game’s main features. With a release date in sight, I’m anxious to see how this game turns out.

Post-Impressions

FFA in some respects is a step forward from All-4-One but doesn’t quite measure up to the rest of the series. The game initially tasks you with restarting the defense grids on various planets after they we sabotaged by the game’s antagonist. The heroes must venture out to reactivate key nodes on the map but are called back to their main base at various intervals to defend against oncoming hordes of enemies. Once the key nodes are reactivated, the actual defense grid you can access the actual defense center to power up the system. Upon completing THAT task, there will be a final rush of enemy waves to your base while the system resets. You receive a medal for completing levels with additional medals available for completing the map within a certain time limit and protecting all your generators.

The tower defense system is relatively simple. There are two lanes that must be defended and you have a growing arsenal of tools at your disposal such as turrets, mines and barriers. Additionally, the player can chose to fight the enemy waves outside the base in hopes to defeat them before hitting your defenses. At first, it’ll be a combination of the two as you race back and forth between lanes since the initial set of defenses aren’t enough to take care of things on their own. But once you get those sweet sweet Warmonger turrets, it’s easier to keep exploring the map for objectives as waves come in.

Player weapons are handled differently in FFA than other entries. You start each map with Scattered across the map are pods, which players must successfully “hack” to unlock new weapons. The hacking minigame is simple enough, just press X whenever the bar is over a blue area (with bolt bonuses for hitting specific targets in those areas). Hit all the areas and you’ll be given up to 3 options for a new weapon for that map’s arsenal. There are similar pods to unlock the swingshot and heavy weapons like the Warmonger. The frustrating aspect to this system is not being guaranteed the weapon you want under the circumstances. Weapons can be leveled up to 3 times. As a welcomed change from All-4-One, your overall progress is tied to a single profile. Earning medals unlocks different ranks which grant bonuses to the player (such as quicker movement and health regeneration) which encourages you to replay levels. The time goals can be tricky since all cutscene time is included in your progress so plan accordingly.

FFA does feature both competitive and co-op multiplayer. Campaign maps can be completed with a co-op partner. Having a second player to both unlock weapons and protect your base greatly alleviates some of the difficulty (especially on some of the enemy waves in later levels) and is almost a necessity if you are hoping to beat the developer time goals. The competitive mode is a variation on the main game’s base defense (either 1v1 or 2v2). Each game is divided into 3 phases: Recon, Squad, and Assault. The Recon phase has the teams securing nodes across the map which grant new player weapons and generate bolts to fund base defense/offense. The Squad phase allows the player to invest in defenses for their own tower or create waves to be sent to your opponent’s base. Lastly, the Assault phase pits the teams against each other until one base falls. You can invest bolts into upgrades to your defenses (like more powerful turrets) or your offense (like armor for your waves).

Overall, it is a fun game but it still left me wanting another traditional entry. If you do pick it up, I do suggest playing it coop (if you need a partner hit me up PSN: Isay_Isay). Since there’s not official Dtoid review at this time, my take on it is a solid 6-6.5. At $20 and given that a Vita version is included as well (whenever that actually happens), it’s easy to recommend.

Final Thoughts

If Insomniac does decide to continue its co-op/multiplayer focus in the future of this series, allow me to make some suggestions. Combine the combat focus of Deadlocked with the co-op weapon damage mechanic of All 4 One. The player profile stuff in Full Frontal was a step in the right direction in terms of your online presence. Storywise, have Qwark and/or Ratchet open up a boot camp for potential heroes and in the process the cadets are tasked with saving the galaxy after the instructors are captured. Call it something like Ratchet & Clank: Private Contact. Let players take on major objectives as they see fit. If someone wants to do something on their own, make it challenging but give them a big experience boost. If they want to be more strategic, it’ll be easier to complete the tasks, but experience is divided up accordingly.

I wish Insomniac luck with Fuse. By what I’ve seen, at its core, there is a fun game in there, but the shift in art direction took at lot out of what got me excited for the game.

Best Game: A Crack in Time
Worst Game: Size Matters
Best Weapon (Non-RYNO): The Bouncer
Best RYNO: V3 (UYA)

Final Rankings:
1. A Crack in Time
2. Up Your Arsenal
3. Going Commando
4. Tools of Destruction
5. Deadlocked
6. Full Frontal Assault
7. Quest for Booty
8. Ratchet & Clank
9. All 4 One
10. Secret Agent Clank
11. Size Matters

Potential 2013 Quests:
Assassin’s Creed
Uncharted

*The correct order 1) R & C 2) Sly Cooper 3) Jak & Daxter #FACT