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11:58 AM on 06.07.2010

The Lost Finale --> Lost as a Video Game?!

(SPOILERS about Lost and Final Fantasy 7 within.)


Now that everyone has digested, dissected, and in some cases, disposed of, the Lost finale, I shall propose the following idea: but first, a small anecdote.

I jokingly mentioned on Twitter mere minutes before I engaged that finale episode of Lost that the show's big reveal would be that everything took place in the Mushroom Kingdom. (If you think about it, that works more than it should.) It garnered a few laughs, but it kind of got me thinking, especially after the finale ended: if you think of Lost in pure sci-fi terms, you were probably disappointed; but what if you thought about it as a modern-day fantasy? Specifically, in video game-esque fantasy terms?

Lost was a show which utilized allusions of Western and Eastern culture, religion, and philosophy to weave a deep tale about redemption and character salvo. However, its "world" - its grand mixture of science and magic, logic and mysticism, all at the risk of thorough or satisfying explanation - might have been easier for gamers to swallow, since we're so accustomed to games that play with those very elements without delving into the how and why. Think of Lost as a game - as an character-heavy RPG almost - and suddenly, it "works". (FYI - I am aware there was a Lost video game, but since no one played it, and fewer talk about it, neither will I.)

And why shouldn't it? It is well documented about how Lost's appeal tended from its game-like structure; not only from the backgammon metaphor from the first season, but in how its fans delved into the entire series like a puzzle, examining pictures and dialogue as a means to figure things out. And even the characters themselves spent so much time backtracking and exploring to find answers and secrets to expand and explain the realm in which they existed. It was the TV equivalent of discovering secret areas in any game; and, like so many secret areas, they tend to be pointless (oh boy, 5 more potions? I'm already fully stocked!), but in the end, it was all about the journey to finding them. Lost has always been about the narrative journey, and on that level, it succeeded.

But I believe it also succeeded as a structure in itself, despite what the nay-sayers may say. Why? Because it told us what we needed to progress the "game," akin to any number of RPGs out there. For the sake of comparison, I'll use FF7 as a prime example, because its mix of science and magic melds so well with the mix of science and magic found on that island. Hell, certain ideas ring so close to each other it's scary; the Dharma Initiative sought to exploit the island's properties in Lost; the Shina Corporation was exploiting the planet's magic force in FF7 (I should mention I don't have much in-depth knowledge to the Final Fantasy 7 universe, but in a way, that proves my point: most gamers' knowledge of the FF7 world and intricacies probably don't differ too much from most viewers' knowledge of the Lost mythos, and yet, a fair amount of enjoyment was derived from both). Despite the number of FF7 spin-offs, prequels, and sequels, there's probably a host of questions that gamers may have yet lack the time (or wherewithal) to answer with a close reading and analysis of all those elements. But it's hard to suggest that those questions detracted from the overall enjoyment of these spin-offs, prequels, and sequels.

(Example: The question of what the "light" was under the island resembles what one might ask what the "magic energy" within the planet of Gaia. Sure, we know what it does, how people exploit it, the sense of its power, and so on, but we're never provided with a full explanation of where they came from, how it truly "works", and the full purpose of its existence, except that it's there and is exceedingly powerful.)

Japanese games, anime, and movies often delve into the bizarre interconnectedness of highly-derived technologies and inexplicable spiritual/magical forces; Lost is probably the first to do it for a mainstream American audience (at a much, MUCH smaller scale). This type of thinking may explain why the "next Lost" has yet to materialize; they fail to understand the importance of crafting its own world and rules - ones that gamers understand but audiences may brush off to focus on the narrative. Flashforward took place in "our world," so it's difficult to remove the weird occurrences from the everyday. Likewise with Happy Town. Heroes had the right idea with the first season; it just got really, really stupid. Hell, that show could have benefited from having a few gamers on staff, let alone, you know, real comic book writers. (While many may argue that Lost, too, took place in the real world, I'll argue that once the characters landed on the island, they no longer were in that world and were transported into another one, one where the island assumed control.)

I've never played FF6, but it seems to be the most loved among the gamers out there, and with the game's emphasis on character, it might make the better comparison to Lost. Or, better yet, Chrono Trigger - with its well-defined characters and time-travel exploits, along with its deep themes of science, magic, power, choice, free will, and destiny. Ultimately, though, as much as Lost was a TV show, it's sensibilities, structure, worldview, beats, and mythos had all the trappings of a modern day, fantasy-RPG, ones that we as gamers can truly recognize.

Now, understand, I'm not quite comparing the story of Lost to the stories of FF7 or Chrono Trigger. I'm merely comparing the kinds of worlds that these shows/games presented, and how their lack of a -complete- explanation doesn't detract from the narrative it presents.   read

10:20 PM on 05.16.2010

My Super Marios, let me show you them (90s Edition!)

To assist Chad with his Countdown to Super Mario Galaxy 2, as well as compliment Tony's awesome Mega Man collection post, I thought I'd show you my own collection of Super Mario gear that I had once gathered like a kid in a candy store with a blank check. Prepare to be (somewhat) amazed! (And excuse the blurry photos, I took them with my phone in a semi-rush.)


Collecting Super Mario curios today is fairly easy, what with the number of official and fan-made toys out there from Japan and America alike, all accessible at conventions and through ordering online. I'm kind of frustrated by it, actually (in a good way) - when I was a wee lad in the early 90s, acquiring Super Mario accessories was a difficult endeavor, despite his overall popularity at the time. Mario may have succeeded, game wise, but the acquisition of his merchandise was trickier, which seemed ironic. Perhaps it was because at a young age, you're limited with things like being able to drive, having the finances to buy them, and having parents supporting your clearly-unhealthy habit. Still, I managed to gather a small yet impressive collection, the years before DVDs and online purchasing became mainstream. I even have some original goodies that I don't think you can find anymore.

Before DVDs there was VHS, and what made VHS annoying was you had to fast-forward and rewind to get to whatever episode you wanted to watch; there was no "episode selection". Still, ask any anime fan back then how hard (and expensive) acquiring the Far East's animations were (my brother was a Ranma 1/2 fan, and gathered as many tapes has he could from out local Suncoast), and you have a pretty good idea of its difficulty to finance and maintain. I'm pretty sure these aren't all the tapes that existed, but these are as many as I could grab, and sadly, no Super Mario Wold cartoons were available to me. But, yes, I have the movie, and while as a SMB fan I was sorely disappointed, I had a chance to rewatch it recently. It's a silly, fun film, akin to The Fifth Element.

I've showed these before, and I'm happy that I (or, I should say, my mother) managed to preserve them. While the original hats are missing, these dolls essentially defined my childhood, and at the risk of coming off *askew*, I would play pseudo-Super Mario adventures with the collection of dolls at my disposal. (PROTIP: I also owned a stuffed monkey, so guess who got his ass kicked the most.) With the hard plastic heads, hands, and feet, this toy was a dangerous weapon, but oh-how I loved it so. Sadly, these dolls are the second batch my brother and I owned, as the first ones we had were lost originally at a baseball field (long story, don't ask. Or do, I'll probably explain it.)

As the last paragraph alluded to, I was a collector, but not a responsible one. I never had the foresight to keep certain toys in "good" condition, because clearly you couldn't have fun with them trapped in their original packaging. Which explains why my most prized possession, this hardcover bound collection of Super Mario comics, taken from a short lived run of issues published by Valiant in the early nineties, looks somewhat disheveled. A local discount store sold it when I was younger, and I jump at the chance. Looking through it again, it has a very fun if confusing style of story telling, a mixture of random styles of art and dialogue fonts. Each story is about 6-8 pages, and while some fall flat, some others are surprisingly entertaining, and maybe I'll write up some mini-reviews for each one next week or so. A number of scanned pages of the comics are available around the internet, but having this hardcover feels so much like an accomplishment that I'm particularly proud of.

What makes this set fairly interesting is its attempt to streamline more side characters into the SMB canon. Wooster was a servant mushroom to King Toadstool, who was somewhere between crazy, foolish, stupid, and corrupt. Also, Stanley the Talking Fish. Add in revolting plants, hypnotizing pigits, Dirk Drain-Head, and some Dear Abby-type letters to the princess (she's really good at this letter thing), and you have the base idea and feel of what the Paper Mario games are ascribing to.


FUCK, this was a great find. You see, dear readers, Sonic comics came a dime a dozen, and as a SMB fan it did sting a little to be saturated in my enemy's exploits at the local comic book store, and yet not witness a single sliver of a Mario-relation graphic novel. So it was just random chance I saw this one floating on the debut boards, and, of course, I purchased it immediately. I remember asking the cashier whether they would be getting more of these, and he returned a definite and slightly condescending "No," as if the idea of "Super Mario" comics was ridiculous, especially within the myriad of X-Men and Excalibur and other "real" super heroes. I tried getting into them, like Spiderman, but I much preferred my stories more whimsical and fun (like Gummi Bears!) than all realistic and gritty. So, in summary, fuck that guy.

Likewise, these are pretty awesome - mainly because apparently these are hard to find. And yet, I have TWO. These were sold at a long-gone local game store, and I originalyl bought one, but lost it. So I bought another one. During some spring cleaning, I found the original. Yay me. On first glance, you'll recognize this as the comic adventure debuted in Nintendo power so many years ago, all told together in a rather funny and exciting adventure. This even includes the Mario vs. Wario tale based on Six Golden Coins (who remembers that? :D), but sadly, not the story where Mario and Wario battle over Princess Toadstool's birthday affection (THAT WAS HER NAME), only to be beaten out by Weegee. Still, I often read through this one quite a bit, especially for inspiration on a... ahem, special thing I'm working on.

Super Mario never had novels. But they had these silly little "Choose Your Own Adventure" type books back when it was all the craze, and as far as I'm concerned, they ARE novels. These original Choose Your Own Adventure series used to scare me shitless, because they had no problem killing YOU (and there was never any indication you won a book or not), but the SMB versions were much more low key and sillier, with puzzles you could solve to choose the right path. Still, Mario or Luigi could die, which was still horrifying, and I particularly remember Monster Mix-Up being downright the scariest SMB-related thing since the piano came alive in Super Mario 64. I sadly could never find the first one.

Some promotional stuff for the movie. Ahem. Let's move on.

And lastly... trading cards! I forgot I even had these. I guess I was supposed to trade these with other people with different video game-related cardholders, but screw that. I wanted Super Mario, not Contra. Hell, you'll probably notice that there's even two sets of Zelda cards over there. Believe me, they were just part of the collection. The art on these are hit or miss; the one with Mario climbing the stairs is the best in its clever minimalism and sense of wonder. Likewise, the blurbs on the back of each card is either informative or redundant; one has a listing of all the Koopa Kids and their personalities, another has a PSA on how to climb stairs properly. So... yeah.

Perhaps one day I'll return to SMB collection; I had to quit after reality set in and money started going to things like books and school and life. But now the whole process is easier, and no longer would it present that delightful challenge and whimsy it once had. There was something exciting about finding a Mario-relation book or story in a bargain bin and having it then and there. I know people out there have a lot more stuff than I do, but for a 10 year-old in the early 90s, this is kinda impressive. I think.   read

10:45 AM on 02.25.2010

Why very few fans actually don't know better

While Jim Sterling's infamous article outlines exactly what the problem with fanatical fanboyism, he stops short of explaining why fanboys particularly aren't good at developing their vision. A few commenters mentioned that, because fans essentially engulf every detail and aspect of a work, that there is perhaps a modicum of correctness in the fan's desire. Theoretically, yes, but practically - no.

Why? Fans, for the most part, don't have proper training.

... kinda like this.

"Proper training" means here that they fail to grasp the elements that go beyond that intrinsic desire for self-satisfaction. They don't quite understand the ABSOLUTE IMPORTANCE of development and story, of appealing to demographics and financial backers, of conflict and nuance and drama and change. They don't understand the work involved in the creation of anything - and the constant need to proliferate that work beyond the first iteration. In other words, if fans had their way, the very thing they worship would be over in about an hour.

The Sonic 4 issue is not nearly the singular outrageousness that fanboys exhibited over the years. I recently read this article about Chuck fans and something or other, who had issues with the TV stars awkward love triangle (or quadrangle). They wanted the two lovebirds to become instant lovebirds. Problem is, if you do that, you don't have a TV show. It's over. Same with Lost fans, who wants their questions answered as soon as possible. While I have issues with the show's pacing (ie, is this really an effective storytelling pacing or a deliberate method to pad?), it definitely "works" for the show itself, and people are indeed enjoying the show's final season. Had a fanatical Lost fan been given the reigns to develop the show... well, I'm 100% it would have been awful.

Fans are rarely trained in storytelling, in conflict or character development, in pacing, style, and meaning, in programming, design, PR, in which ever genre they're engaging it. They look without watching; they enjoy without playing. Sonic ISN'T just about speed. If it were, then the hundreds of speed-based games out there would be just as popular. Sonic was released essentially as the "anti-Mario," the perfect mascot character with 'tude that marketing 101 would tell you best reflected the angsty teenager mentality, the one that grew up on the cutesiness of early Nintendo gaming and wanted to rebel against it. Nostalgia, coupled with a swath of decent games, barely-mediocre comics, and cartoons ranging from bad to passable, has fans thinking of Sonic in terms beyond what he actually is.

For a project I am working on, I have done a bit of research on Sonic, and, well, it's been hard. Take a look at the writeups on Sonic both at wikipedia and the various Sonic wiki sites. They're terrible. Look at that ridiculous Storyline Summary. The writers fail to understand the encyclopedic necessity of conciseness and clarity. They ramble on as elaborate summaries instead of clear, point-by-point descriptions. Imagine, now, what their fan stuff is like.

What makes this particularly frustrating is that because fans are so in-tuned into what they enjoy, they may have indeed some great ideas in their collective heads. But because they're so fanatical, they end up making insane threats, moronic claims, and outlandish rants that seek to annoy developers and casual fans alike. Fans don't need to shut up so much as channel that erratic energy into something that people can profit from. Star Trek and Star Wars fans produce novels, videos, songs, hold conventions - stuff that, while a bit weird, showcases a controlled talent that suggests an enjoyable experience as a fan-production instead of a scrambling diatribe on some message board forum.

(FYI: A friend of mine was so worked up over the ending of Dawson's Creek that she and a number of other fans created an alternate ending to it. Crazy? Yes. But she's an aspiring screenwriter, so it's not as if she posted an illegible post somewhere. She attempted to pool her skills into something that she and others felt better served the thing she enjoyed. I don't know how it worked out [I've heard good things], but the point is, she made something work because she knew how to make it work. She currently is attending a screenwriting program in Vancouver film school.)

It's pretty much understood that developers and filmmakers claim to listen to fans, but they truthfully don't. Because their ideas suck. BUT, if they spent a few weeks looking a bit more critically at the very thing they enjoy, perhaps maybe they'd be more appreciative and - GASP - learn something about the craft to help formulate their arguments and/or create something amazing, like this Mario-fan trailer.

Or at least they'd finally realize how terrible Heroes truly is.   read

10:45 AM on 12.25.2009

The Truth Learned from One Gamer's Christmas

This is the story of how I learned about the truth of a young gamer's Christmas.

The picture above this paragraph is a classic Mario doll from the early 90s. These short, squat, stuff variations of the iconic Nintendo mascot are items from a past era: with solid, hard plastic for heads, hands, and feet, these toys are primarily perfect for swinging around and hurting people. The body was stuffed with cotton, which is stringing along the joints, and the hair is fading, exposing the skin underneath. It also came with a cloth hat with the "M" emblem on it, which is forever lost to childhood neglect.

This was my favorite toy of all time. I was, and still am in a certain respect, a huge Super Mario Brothers fan. Something about this character appealed to me. I'm not sure if it is the simplistic gaming style or the creative beauty of the gaming worlds they inspire. My favorite color is red because of him. I found myself playing "Mario" during our schoolyard faux-fights: while other kids my age chose Wolverine or The Punisher, I chose the plucky plumber with the huge nose.

I'm a black male who went to a predominately white Catholic school, and thanks to our overall youth, I was never question about the validity of being Mario due to the variation of skin color. I'm reminded of a short story whereby a new kid to a neighborhood is greeted with praise and enjoyment by the local kids; and after one conversation with their parents, the local kids proceed to question the newbie about "his kind" being around here, and that he was no longer wanted. The beauty of this story? It was never indicated what "his kind" was comprised of.

I never had that happen to me, thankfully, but I was aware of my, for lack of a better word, shortcomings, especially during Halloween. I couldn't dress up as Mario; while the costume would have made me recognizable, it just wouldn't have made any sense. I was forced to be as generic as creativity could allow. A cop. A doctor. A pirate. Now I would have some distinct choices: Alyx Vance's father. The dude from LD4. But I couldn't really be who I really wanted to be. Mario, jumping on some Koopas.

All I had was the doll, and I loved it to death. With it I could interact with the "world" conceived by Miyamoto and design my own adventures. The only thing I needed was the rest of the cast. Luigi. Toad. Princess Toadstool (as she was called at the time). And as Christmas came around the corner, I knew just who to ask.

I believed in Santa. Well, I believed in the miracles that Santa could perform. I knew that my parents provided the gifts, but I had inexplicably conceived that Santa was somehow involved in the process. He could make certain gifts just happen. What wasn't available in stores was accessible through him; so when I was given the opportunity to visit Santa, I was nervous and excited. (It's odd, too - Kevin Mcallister from Home Alone had pretty much the same imaginary concept of Santa).

Our local mall has closed down since its heyday; it is now a series of random stores and a Sears. It used to be pretty cool, with fancy fountains located underneath the escalators and a pretty fast elevator in the center. Santa was set up behind that elevator, and as my parents and I waited in line, I could feel the nerves building up. It was silly asking for what I was going to ask for, but dammit, I was going to do it.

The time came, and I found myself on Santa's lap.

"Ho-ho-ho! Have you been a good little boy?"

"Yes, I have." (I hope so!)

"And what would you like this Christmas?"

And I spilled my greedy guts. A Luigi doll. A Princess Toadstool doll. A Toad doll. I can't remember if I asked for a Yoshi doll, but I probably did, depending on whether it was before or after Super Mario World. He said sure. He said something about being a good boy and something about seeing what he could do. When a parent says that, it means "no." When Santa says it? Pretty much guaranteed. And so, we took the obligatory picture, and left.

I managed. I felt pretty confident about my chances. I even resigned myself to be extra good in the coming days up until that fateful morning. Things were going to be awesome. The Mushroom Kingdom would be mine.

Guess what happened.

No Luigi doll. No Toad doll. No Princess Toadstool or Yoshi doll.

I can't remember what exactly I did get for Christmas that year. I think some games, but I can't remember which ones. I remember coloring books, and the only reason why I remember coloring books is because I remember searching hell and high water around that tree for those dolls, only to find the coloring books last.

I never colored in those coloring books.

It was then that I learned that Santa wasn't real, at all, in neither the gift-providing nor miracle-creation capacity. There was no extra-hidden gift under my bed. There was no last-minute exchange that would turn my day into joy. There was no "Oh, kiddo, this is for you!" surprise that was waiting for me, with the laughing jolly man flying across the moon, silhouetted against its light. Just utter disappointment.

In an instant, my hopes and dreams were gone. It was a few months before I could recover, a secret I had always kept to myself. Even I knew the fallout of revealing my grand disappointment to either my friends and families would be embarrassing. In time, I understood the fact that Nintendo, or which ever third-party company, did not make such dolls at the time. In a way, I consider you all lucky, with the accessibility of various toys, dolls, and action figures of your favorite games, which are only a few clicks away.

As we discuss the complexity of true immersion and push to be closely linked into the video games we enjoy, it is important to remember that it has its limits. We cannot, how ever much we try, bring that world to reality. This is what I learned that Christmas. I am not angry. It was something I needed to learn, and as you celebrate your holidays, please remember that, with the faulting economy, the inclement weather, the limitations of the human condition, and plain old Murphy's Law, some things just cannot happen.

Sometimes, people don't receive Christmas miracles.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Destructoid. Stay safe and enjoy what games come to you, but I ask simply to keep it all in perspective.   read

9:42 PM on 12.14.2009

Love/Hate: Red Faction > The Sequels and Half-Life

I had randomly rented this game from Blockbuster during the early part of the 21st century, when Blockbuster still was relevant. At the time, games never really "meant" a lot to me. I figured that they were there to be played, and the experience was purely based on the interaction of the player's ability to press buttons at a certain time in a certain place, and how well a publisher and/or developer programmed the game to interpret those controls. Graphics and story took a back seat. Or so I thought.

I was blown away.

This was the signature game that elevated my opinion of the gaming experience into something from passive enjoyment into active interaction. Never have I truly felt part of the game as much as Red Faction made me. For a few hours over the course of a few days, I actually felt like I was Parker, frustrated by the Ultor's Corporation totalitarian control and lack of concern of the miners' welfare, losing it as I watched a fellow minor getting beat to death as the final straw. Mind you, this goes well beyond the hype of the Geo-Mod technology, which, to be honest, is used only about three times effectively in the game.

It was interesting to see the story played out so smoothly, so effectively, that I really felt like I was actively sneaking from base to base, plant to plant, building to building. The areas were so wonderfully interconnected that it seemed like a real place, like how a series of corrupt architects would indeed design a multi-level conglomerate on a distant planet. How later in the game, wanted posters of your character begin popping up all over walls and buildings. And I had to figure out many of the specific objectives of this enterprise myself - such as sneaking into one plant via an airduct high in the air, or another plant via a pipeline, or killing a giant robot via a well-placed garbage disposal - all without any spoon-feeding by outside sources or characters (now, to be honest, on the second playthrough, I was told how to kill the robot, but on my primary playthrough, I wasn't, which I much preferred).

I had played Red Faction prior to Half-Life and Half-Life 2. And even though I did enjoy my experience with Gordan Freeman through all his available adventures - even Episodes 1 and 2 - I will contest strongly that Red Faction is still the superior experience.

Now, I was indeed aware of the hype around Half-Life, but I did not have a computer capable of playing it nor did Blockbuster carry the PS2 port. I could have bought it, but I'm not really a "buyer" of games since those 60 dollar price tags are really hard to swallow. (This was also before I knew about "Steam".) It wasn't until I procured a Gamefly subscription that I managed to rent Half-Life 1.

I can't say for sure if the Red Faction experience left me disillusioned to the HL1 experience, but I was somewhat disappointed by the game. Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed it for the most part, but it seemed... off. I certainly understood where RF garnered its seamless gameplay style from - by escaping the "levelized" structure of most games (and removing or limiting cutscenes), both HL and RF create a world where the gamer is truly immersed in the occurrences that happen throughout. But while HL may have "started" the movement, RF perfected it. The only times I felt HL was pushing towards RF-like immersion was at the very beginning, when you're up against that huge tentacled creature, and when you're captured at the game's midpoint and stripped of your weapons. Otherwise, HL is simply a glorified, long shooter. There are no stealth moments, few vehicles to commandeer, no multiple paths, no major elements to figure out. Sure, there are "puzzle" areas, such as the moment where you control a satellite to bomb a doorway to progress forward -- but it seemed then that the "action" stopped to give you some air to think, while RF forced you to think and shoot at the same time, or at least think in terms of the overall objective, instead of a tricky way to get past an obstacle.

This notion was solidified with HL2 and its subsequent games.

HL2 blew its predecessor out the water. The characters were richer, the storyline heavier, the gaming experience more lavish, certainly. I really felt like I was in for a real treat when playing this. The beginning was really getting me excited -- having to outrun the Combine without a weapon was truly exciting (can I say I was hoping for about a full hour of this kind of thing?). But then... you get your crowbar, and your first pistol, and it's back to the same. Sure, the "same" was pretty awesome - avoiding a helicopter as it shot at you, racing across rivers and beaches in vehicles, Ravenholm - but still, it was all so structured. How odd am I? I was annoyed by the segue between levels. You exit one cave-shaft and suddenly, you're out of Ravenholm and racing across roads. One magical teleport has you out of the Combine's Citadel and - ONE WEEK LATER - commanding an army through a war zone.

Again, I must stress I had A LOT of fun with this game. But I was disappointed that the segues were so distinct; they might have well been structured levels. And, again, the action and puzzles were separate "hubs" - a game design decision that actually accepted and mentioned by one of the designers of HL2 (as mentioned in the Lost Coast addition on Steam). Not to sound like a spoilsport, but it's really lame to stop the flow of the game with a generic moment of "keep away" with a ton of Antlions in a mine shaft (HL2, Ep. 2). In other words -- I feel like I'm STILL protecting Natasha while she infiltrates some computer as German soldiers burst in from either side.

Another egregious example is in Episode 2, where you reach a section in a driving level that leads you to a part in which you're ambushed. That would be fine -- except the area is specifically designed to keep you within a building until -they- decide to blow open the door to the outside. I wish that I had the options - to bunker down and shoot within the building OR to sneak out by some other means, where by Alyx shoots from the inside, and I stealth kill them from the outside. Sadly, it doesn't exist.

For all the enjoyment I received from them, the Half-Life games seem to lack the intuitive flow and real-time decision making that seemed so organic in Red Faction. (Also, RF's vehicle use is better managed than Half-Life 2's, but that's more of a personal thing.)

Red Faction seemed to stress real thinking, the necessity to figure things out within the heat of the entire ordeal without the stop-and-go stylistic choices that Gordan Freeman's adventures seem to utilize. When you're on the surface of Mars, for example, no one tells you that, without armor, you suffocate and your health slowly depletes. You learn that on your own, and that's a gamer's delight.

So what happened with RF2 and [/i]Guerrilla?

Red Faction 2 espoused the seamless gaming experience for distinct level structure, and Guerrilla seems to emphases a violent, destructive "capture the base and destroy it!" sandbox mechanic. While I have yet to play Guerrilla (which still looks like a fun game), I know deep down inside that the only close example I'll get to that full experience I had with the original Red Faction is when Half-Life: Episode 3 comes out, and that same part may be disappointed then, if the developers still have that action-puzzle distinction mapped out.

I love Red Faction. It's my favorite FPS of all time, and it's sad that part of me believes that I'll never have an experience like it. I hear Thief is pretty close to it, so I'll probably give that a whirl sometime, and The Chronicles of Riddick has the right idea; I wish there were more different types of environments, had more variety, and was longer (and, uh, more shooting sections. I loved the stealth stuff, but it is a FPS, and that S does still have meaning). But until then, as gamers turn to their Freemans, Master Chiefs, L4D casts and so on, I'll always have a soft spot for Parker, the miner who both spearheaded a rebellion AND cured a disease. He knew how to pretend to be a doctor and a businessman, and went into a woman's bathroom to distract a guard and kill him (which was the best thing ever). He could drive all vehicles, and knew his way around an airduct just as good as any MIT graduate.

I love you, Red Faction. Just not in that way. In that other way.   read

1:18 PM on 12.08.2009

Official PS3 Owner! (Plus some other Black Friday crap)

Hey! Hey! Listen!

I just acquired my PS3! I took advantage of Sony Style's Cyber Monday deal, after a terrible, terrible experience trying to exploit deals on Black Friday. Now, while I know it seems silly that people in this day and age are waking up at ungodly hours to fight the traffic and insane crowds, I sort of have a soft spot for it. For one thing, I'm a big guy (muscular wise), and have little to no fear of long lines and nutso crowds. I'll throw-down an old lady no problem. Secondly, I snagged some sweet deals last year, so I thought maybe I could go two-for-two.

Well, all I got was a head cold standing out in the rain.

I should have known it would be a disaster when I arrived at Wal-Mart at 4am to see the damn store open and ready, people walking in and out 1 hour before it was to officially open. Hell, they even set up the dividers and barriers for the people to stand in. Wow. And since neither the website nor the circular said anything about ticket holding or doorbuster deals or allowing some people in early, I was absolutely floored. Needless to say, the inside and staff was a mess. (Also, Staples didn't even carry an advertised laptop I wanted, so double fail on my part.)

I ended up getting both online, so, I wasted 24 hours and all I got was sick.

But lessons learned. Now I have the goods!

Even my dog was excited for me!

Or maybe she was just wondering what I was doing with that camera phone.

So I hooked it up with all it's HD glory, and it is sitting comfortably in my den.

I've been having a lot of fun with the games that it came bundled with -- the first Uncharted and Infamous. Also, I got Metal Gear Solid 4 off one of Amazon's lighting deals for 20 bucks. Sweet.

I'm now part of the new wave of gamers. I feel relevant now. My PSN name is kjohnson1585. I'm not too creative when it comes to nomenclature.

So, I hope to see ya'll around somewhere!


I most certainly do.   read

10:24 AM on 11.11.2009

More of the Same: Gaming is for chil'ren

I first would like to apologize over the lack of postings recently. I have been working on a ton of other blogging articles for other sites, as well as working on way too many projects which will or not be revealed next year. That, and a recent sickness has rendered me near-useless to write at any productive level. So it goes.

Now that my health and my time has become more manageable, I figured I'd post something to ease myself back into the thick of things. But what? I had no idea.

Until, I came across this recent status update on my Facebook. Names and faces edited out to protect the moronic.

The fact that the edits look like penises are merely a delicious coincidence.

Just so you know. The first and last people on the comment posts are male. The others are female. Granted, some of them are the original poster's replies. Who, after that last comment, replied:

"not a good enough excuse..the only one ill accept is on your death bed! lol"

lol, indeed. Because, you see, only when you're at the final stages of cancer can you play video games unashamedly.


2009. The decade of the naughts (so, that's what we're calling it?) is almost over, and yet we still have this kind of thinking oh-so-prevalently filling our society. Comic book nerds never kissed a girl. 12 year-olds only play video games. WOMEN BE SHOPPIN'. To be fair, those comments were made by women, lest I be accused of sexist.

And before you ask: Why have them as friends? I believe that it's important to keep tabs on one's enemies, even the moronic ones, to know what they're up to and what their thinking, even if dumb shit like this spew from their mouths onto the keyboard in front of them. If you don't want to watch your boyfriend play video games, why don't you just leave? I'm sure there are other TVs in the house. GO SHOPPING, like your friends suggest. Do your hair, and other stereotypical things that women do. (I don't know-- make sandwiches? Jump off balconies? Is that a thing women do?)

It's sad to really see things like this nowadays, and I'm not saying she needs to utterly go out her way to understand the BEAUTY of video games or something like that. Just, with the evidence that many gamers are female and the fact that gaming is a legit, billion dollar industry, to snark on what is one of the biggest games of the year, followed by a shit-ton of stereotypes afterward, just reeks of a level of ignorance that I thought was gone-- or, at least a little less obvious.

I'd call this evil, but I'd be stretching the Monthly Musing definition here. Unless ya'll think I could portray it as evil-- which I think I could. What say you?   read

2:19 PM on 10.14.2009

Citizen Kane is to Pac-Man as Rosebud is to Wakka Wakka Wakka

Kane, after dying on Quick Man's stage for the 90th time.

The term "Citizen Kane of gaming" needs to be buried, along with "totes," "staycation," and "sparkling vampires".

Not because it's an exaggerated phrase, like the Godwin equivalent of any Internet argument invoking Hitler or the Holocaust. That, I don't mind. The problem is that it's trite. What's a famous movie that critics like? Citizen Kane. What do I like doing in my spare time? Gaming. How can I combine the two to create a delicious sandwich of my favorite pastime and art/intellectualism? Say X is the video game's Citizen Kane.

Beyond sounding like a hipster's failed attempt at MadLibs, the main issue is that it shows a somewhat obvious misunderstanding of a movie like Citizen Kane and, perhaps, movies in general. It was on the top of AFI's greatest movie list, but is by no means the most important movie to define cinema. Birth of a Nation defined the epic. Metropolis might be the first sci-fi/dystopian vision. Safety Last could be the first high-concept comedy.

Seeking the "Citizen Kane" of games is a silly endeavor because you should be seeking not one but several video games that redefined the genre in some manner. There are plenty games that do this, even if the use the same basic mechanics or style.

Below is an example. First is the final scene of Citizen Kane, which uses deep focus as a "larger than life" visual motif.


Now, below is a video from Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game, a French film that-- dare I say it-- also used deep focus! In fact, this movie is pretty damn famous (outside the US) and, I believe, uses deep focus much more effectively, especially in relation to the overly-complex plot involving emotional portrayals and backstabbing and cheating and so-on (by the way-- it's not as melodramatic as it sounds; it's actually pretty funny.)


I know that this makes me appear like some sort of hipster-film snob, but I'm not. Hell, I enjoyed Transformers!... when the robots were fighting. But I think the pursuit of a game that, as Destructoid's Burch quotes, "[utilizes] a medium's strength" is really nothing that you need to "find" so much as you have to explain in relation to the genre of video games as a whole. Citizen Kane's reputation is not unlike many other films that have been released; On the Waterfront is a good example, and so is Chinatown. Nothing particular is unique about deep focus and good editing; hell, this is what films should have. And, as being a complex character study? I can't count the number of good films focusing on one slightly-disturbed character.

As far as I'm concerned, Doom is a good contender is for such a title, in that it took the FPS and utilized it in a format that, at the time, was novel and seemed perfect for it. I personally wouldn't argue it, but it's a viable possibility. So is Goldeneye, Mario 64, Final Fantasy, and so on.

It's telling that the "Citizen Kane of gaming" is being used; no one says "the Macbeth of gaming" or "the Mona Lisa of gaming" or "the Death of a Salesman of gaming," all of which are genre defining and game-changing in their own ways. Let's be honest here-- it's not about genre-defining, since we have plenty of games that do that-- but it's about games as art, as the game we're "going to show to Ebert to convince him videogames are a legitimate art form". There's a pretty huge difference in games that utilize the medium to its most potent effect, and showing the world games can be art. The latter requires several games to do this, from the indie to the blockbuster to the foreign. It requires an avenue through which games can be studied and explored, returned to and debated, thought upon and analyzed. And while I truly admire sites like Destructoid trying to approach this issue, along with the active fanbase, I think that overall approach is flawed. I don't want "a" game to showcase gaming as an artform. I want "lots" of games. I want the people, the fans, the game designers, and so on to explain their thinking and their flaws, the ins and outs, the interplay of gamer/game, the controversy (real controversy, not Sambo-watermelon crap), and nuances of gaming as a whole.

A critic would already "roll his eyes" at the debate of a single game that's definitive of this.

The argument of Portal, Braid, Shadow of the Colossus, and Half-Life are starts. Hell, add in Pong, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Mario 64, Sonic 3/Sonic and Knuckles, Mortal Kombat and Metal Gear Solid. Even the defunct Dreamcast. Show how they started an idea, began a movement, instigated a social and cultural response, supported or subjugated a genre, and so on.

Stop looking for the Rosebud, people, and start looking at everything around it.   read

8:55 PM on 09.08.2009

Fan Script - Ratchet and Clank: All or Nothing [Part 19 of 19]

And finally, the resolution. Ahhh, sweet release.

Thanks to everyone who kept up with this! I'll be taking a short break (as in, working on my own original stuff) before I come back here with some more original blog type post things. Let me know what you think overall! At some point, I'll re-write this in proper format. :)

Thanks Destructoid for the opportunity!

Part 18 is here.


Ratchet, Sasha, Angela, and Clank stand on the roof within a new bustling city underneath a bright blue sky filled with flying cars and other aircraft.

They all watch a video on a floating vid-communicator screen with Abercrombie Fizzwidget signing a number of forms, while he waves and smiles for the camera.

…the exciting news that Fizzwidget will be taking full responsibility for all further developments at both Megacorp and Gadgetron. Courtney Gears and the leader of Thugs-4-Less are in custody, while Nefarious and Drek are nowhere to be found. In other news—

Ratchet turns it off.

I guess it never ends.

Some things do.

He turns to look at the two ladies in front of him.

You're really going back, huh?

I'm afraid so. Metropolis still needs a mayor.

And I just want to go home and get away from it all.

I hear you. It's why I escaped out here.

Thank you for all your help, Sasha, Angela.

I should be thanking you, Secret Agent Clank.

Clank laughs his signature laugh.

I believe my movie days are over.

Sasha hugs Ratchet. Angela hugs Clank. Angela hugs Ratchet. Sasha hugs Clank.

Take care.

Will do.

You too.

The two girls turn towards each other. There's a moment between them before they shake each other's hands.

You do good work. If you're ever in Metropolis, drop me a line. Maybe I can get you a job.

Politics? No thanks. Maybe security.

I can handle myself, thank you very much.


They smile at each other.

Ratchet and Clank watch silently as the two ladies head to their respective ships. The enter them, they blast off, and they disappearing into the sky in opposite directions.

Ratchet looks at Clank. Clank looks at Ratchet.

We make a pretty good team.

I would have to agree on that point.

So let's see if we can get this baby going!

You are certainly back, Ratchet.

The two walk over to a metal, motorcycle-like aircraft vehicle. Clank grabs the vid-communicator screen and presses a few buttons, changing it into a checklist, while Ratchet fiddles with the vehicle.



Horizontal stabilizers.


Ion thrusters.

Looks like we got a tailwind. If we time it right, we could ride the slipstream of the grav-train past the Sea Green track—


--launch the mag-grabler onto that headway overpass and slingshot right up to—


Ratchet waves Clank off.

The thrusters are fine, Clank. See?

He turns on the thrusts. They power on for a second then shut down with a puff a smoke. Clank gives Ratchet a look.

Er, don't worry! It's probably just a fused ion duct.


THE END   read

11:06 AM on 09.06.2009

Fan Script - Ratchet and Clank: All or Nothing [Part 18 of ???]


Wow, to think this is the second to last one. Wow, it's been a fun, fun, ride.

Part 17 is here.


The Thug Leader laughs manically as his humvee approaches the Discovery crew, who are trapped under the hail of laser fire from his gattling gun.

Suddenly, they hear a scream.

Get out of the way, Lardo!

Hey! Who you callin'—

He turns and sees Gears hustling towards him, complete with the Bio-Obliterator obliterating everything in its path.

The goons and robots scream and run all over the place in a mess of chaos and disorder.


He immediately stops firing and hops off the humvee. The ball runs over some of the goons and bots, leaving Gears and the Thug Leader the only ones running from it, Indiana-Jones style.

The Bio-Obliterator rolls towards the Discovery crew.

Look out!

Sasha, Angela, Qwark, Al, Helga, and Skidd duck into the tiniest corners they can find as Gears, the Thug Leader, and the massive ball run past them. At the very end of the hall, the two jump into another side doorway as the ball rolls past them, into the wall—and through it.

It bowls through the wall, tearing a humongous hole into side of the stadium, into the outside world.


The Bio-Obliterator rolls out into the streets, where pedestrians and cars and ships swerve out the way to avoid it.

It tumbles towards the dock and rolls right off it, splashing into the water, causing a huge tidal wave, splashing over the entire bay area, practically.

Gears and the Thug Leader peek out the hole, staring at the tremendous amount of damage.

Whew. Dat was a close one.


They look up and see a host of Galactic Rangers, piloting several heavily armed aircraft. The Galactic President sits within the main ship leading the armada.

The two criminals put their hands up as the ships land. Two rangers immediately jump out and arrest Gears and the Thug Leader. The Galactic President emerges from his ship and looks around.

Immediately after, Sasha comes sprinting out.



She runs over and gives him a hug hug. The rest of the crew stumbles out into the daylight. Behind them, a huge number of patrons rush out like a wave, fleeing for their lives.

A RANGER CONTROLLER with a loudspeaker tries to speak to the crowd.

Now, if we can all just form one line so we can take individual statements.

The entire crowd rushes past him as if he wasn't there.

Dude. Let it go.

The Ranger Controller sighs and looks dejectedly.

Suddenly, both Angela and Sasha turn towards the stadium.


The entire remaining group stares at the stadium. Waiting.


Ratchet stares down silently at the destroyed mess left by the Obliterator on his hoverboard.

He slowly turns around and gazes at the announce booth, directly at Drek.

Drek stares back. Neither says a word. Green eyes gaze hard into eyes of pure emerald.

Ratchet glides over to Drek, slowly at first, then with increasing speed. He grits his teeth, which becomes a growl.

Right as he gets near the booth, Drek whips out a massive gun from behind his back and fires a huge, explosive barrage of flames, tearing through the window like nothing.

The burnt remains of the hoverboard lands at his feet. Drek kicks it and looks out before him.


The Lombax falls down from above and gives Drek a powerful kick to his face, sending him flying across the room. Clank's rocket boosts slowly lower Ratchet onto his feet.

He picks up the dropped gun and walks over to Drek slowly, who's trying to crawl away.

I was just kidding, Ratchet! C'mon! It's all in good fun!

Ratchet has the look of death on his face as he steps closer towards Drek.

I have you want, Ratchet! It's all in this computer! Every single detail about the Lombaxes! What they stand for! Where they are now! Don't you want that? Don't you want to know where you come from? Who you are?

No. Not at your expense.

He raises his gun in the air.


-- Ratchet and Sasha look at each other on Veldin.

You are sure something special, Ratchet.

-- The Lombax whoops some Protopet butt on Veldin.

I know what I can do.

-- Ratchet and Angela look at each other at Qwark’s Hideout.

Like Lombaxes are built for action.

-- He performs some amazing feats to escape the rangers and goons on the Veldin powerlines.

I know what I'm capable of.

-- He talks with the New-Age Alien on Tebora.

You will have to confront your worst enemy to find it.

-- He stares at his reflection on the windshield in his ship on Veldin.

-- He stares at his reflection in the oasis on Tebora.

I know who I am.

-- He and Clank cheer over defeating the fake Ratchet and Klunk on Tebora.

… to understand their role in galactic society.

-- Ratchet and Clank pilot the escape pod through the depths of space towards Endako.

-- Clank leans over and whispers into his ear on the platform in the MegaRumble Stadium.


Drek gawks up at the renewed and rejuvenated Lombax.

This is what you were born for.

RATCHET (simultaneously)
This is what I was born for.

Drek frowns at that powerful statement. Ratchet stands above him.

The frown turns into a twisted, sadistic grin.

Then this is what you will die for.

He turns swiftly and slams on a huge red button behind him. The entire place begins flashing alarms and sirens blare into the air.

Drek begins to laugh. Louder. Louder. His laughter echoes all over as machines break apart and wires explode from the walls. Lights pop and the entire building begins to shake.

DREK (in creepy hysterics)
There's no central pad to press to save you from this, Lombax!

Ratchet backs up from Drek as a huge part of the scaffolding onto his vicinity, his form immediately disappearing underneath it. His laugh is still heard but the sirens drown it out eventually.

Ratchet sprints to the last remaining console and quickly starts typing in commands.

Clank! I can download the code off this machine! I can save her in time, and—

Clank places his hand on top of Ratchet's stopping him.

We must let it go, Ratchet. She knows she must be destroyed. Her, and everything with her.

Ratchet and Clank look up at the massive green screen above them. Even as everything shakes and crumbles around them, the screen remains blank and silent. An understood calmness in the storm.

Clank hops onto Ratchet's back and the two hustle out of there.


Rangers forcefully back up the crowd as huge chucks of the stadium begin to fall apart and rip at the seams. Giant fireballs propel from a number of sections. Metal debris rains down from the sky as the roof of the stadium collapse upon itself. The entire thing in time crumbles save for a few side walls and arches.


The winds howl silently as Rangers and other uniformed personnel rush over with hoses, spraying water onto the burning wreckage. No movement is noticeable except for the flickering flames spread all over.

SASHA (to herself)

Everyone around the wrecked stadium looks down, sad, and dejected. Helga and Big Al cry loud sobs against each other. Even Captain Qwark sheds a few tears.

Whoa! Dudes, look!

Everyone turns and looks up, From the darkness of one of the remaining archways, Ratchet and Clank walk out calmly. They're covered in soot and dirt, but are other wise fine.

The crowd erupts in cheers and applause. The two heroes smile and wave to the excited mass around them, enjoying the moment as much as they can.

Darla Gratch suddenly makes an appearance, zooming over with her CAMERAMAN.

Ratchet! Clank! Two heroes-turned-villains-turned-heroes have indeed done the impossible: dispatched the universe's most notorious criminals, stopped perhaps the most dangerous plot in all of super-villain history, and cleared his own name, all at the same time! What do you have to say for yourself?

She points the mic at them both. Ratchet tries to speak but can't catch his breath. Clank just coughs black smoke.

The Galactic President appears in a flash. He hugs the two against his chest.

I'd just like to say that I believed these two were innocent all this time. In fact, this was an all an undercover operation, designed by me, to expose Drek and his shenanigans!

Ratchet and Clank struggle to breathe in the President's arms.

Remember, a vote for me is a vote to be free!

Now, mister President…

He snatches the mic from Gratch's hand and talks directly at the cameraman's camera.

Don't forget, this amazing plan of yours was spear-headed by yours truly! Displaying amazing bravado and a keen sense of keenness, I first deduced easily that the Lombax couldn't have possibly—

--As I was saying, vote for me in the next election—

--that's Q-W-A-R-K. A lot of people misspell it with a U—

-- probably cause that's the way you're supposed to spell it! Now, remember, folks—

As the two fight and mug for the camera, Ratchet and Clank sneak off to the side, towards Angela and Sasha.

Aren't you going to fight for you dues?

Nah, they can have it. I don't need any attention right now.

Clank laughs his signature laugh.

Look, Ratchet… we're sorry we never went after you after you left the Discovery.

Yeah. That was kind of a selfish thing to do.

No. It's all my fault. I'm sorry for bailing on you.

He looks to Sasha, Angela, and Clank.

I'm lucky to have you all as friends. Al, Helga, Skidd, and yes, even Qwark. Sometimes.

The three of them laugh as the Rangers clean up the mess and the President and Qwark fight it out.   read

6:52 PM on 09.03.2009

Fan Script - Ratchet and Clank: All or Nothing [Part 17 of ???]

Getting there, guys... almost at the end. Some climactic stuff ahead. :)


Part 16 is here.


The clanking noises of Clank's feet grow louder. He rushes out one of the bleacher doors and hustles through the crowds. The goons security sees him and tries to shoot him, but he's too small to hit.

He leaps over the edge of the walls and rockets over on to the platform where Ratchet lies.

Ratchet… please. You must get up. Everyone here is depending on you.

I… I can't do it. I'm a failure. I screwed up everything.

That is not true! You exposed Drek's and Nefarious's plans. You saved the galaxy countless times. You can do this.

Why bother? There's nothing left for me. I can't do it, and even if I could, it'd be for nothing.


Ratchet turns his head from Clank.

I found her, Ratchet.

The Lombax turns his head towards Clank.


I found my mother. She controls this. She is what Drek used to frame you. She knows you, Ratchet. She knows the real you. She knows what Lombaxes all about.

Ratchet looks to Clank with a faint glimmer of hope in his eyes.

You can do this, Ratchet. She told me to tell you this.

Clank leans into Ratchet's ear and whispers. Suddenly, his eyes pop open.


Ace Hartlight leaps and grabs hold of the edge of the platform with ease. He starts to lift himself up.

A pair of Lombax boots slam right against Ace’s face. Ratchet’s rocket-kick knocks Hartlight back to the ground, not before leaping off the robot and landing on the top edge of the walls.

Ratchet sprints across the walls, over all the traps, which elicits huge cheers from the captive audience.

An angry Ace begins firing laser shots at Ratchet, running along the ground. Skillfully the Lombax avoids every shot, leaping from wall to wall with the help of Clank’s rocket-blasts. The crowd goes nuts.

Drek watches the scene unfold in brooding silence. The clock reads thirty-three minutes. Nefarious scoffs.

Enough of this! Gears! Finish him once and for all!

What ever you say, snooky-wookums!

She hops back on her hoverboard and zooms back out into the battlefield. Nefarious calls out after her.

Stop calling me that!

She rides the board out over towards two other FEMALE ROBOT DANCERS near the announcer booth. They hop on their own hoverboards and go racing into battle.

Meanwhile, Ratchet still moves quickly along the wall edges, Ace still on his tail. Gears and her cohorts tag along. A laser light show of firepower zooms past Ratchet and Clank on all sides.

He reaches the end of the wall and leaps crazy-high over the stadium walls, landing in the bleachers. Two guards try to shoot him, but he ducks, inadvertently making the guards shoot each other.

Ace leaps high into the air to reach Ratchet.

The Lombax turns around, dual armed with the fallen guards weapons.

Two powerful shots knock Ace out in mid-air, the robot slamming on his back with a powerful thud. Gears gasps.

Like, annihilate him!

All three female robots begin blasting. Ratchet leaps high into the air and shoots Gears right off her board, who lands right on top of Ace. The Lombax pulls two swift moves and blast the other femme bots off as well.

The clock reads thrity-two minutes. Drek grits his teeth and yells into the mic loudly.


The voice echoes throughout the stadium. Sasha and Angela scream.

Ratchet acts FAST. He kicks the two free hoverboards into overdrive and knocks them hard towards the tubes. They zoom through the air, right as the platform beneath the ladies opens up.

They scream as they fall. The hoverboards speed over towards them at the same time.

They fall on the boards right before they disappear into the acid. The crowd goes wild.

Drek slams his fists hard against the console.

(to Nefarious) Fire the Bio-Obliterator! (to the Thug Leader) You! I want every goon, security personnel, robot—every plebian with a gun to kill that Lombax!

You got it!

He rushes out the room as Nefarious rubs his hands together.

Ooooh, goodie! Time to bring this planet to my side! Lawrence! Give me the switch!

Lawrence hands him a device with a huge red button. Nefarious presses it.

In the center of the battle zone, the Bio-Obliterator charges itself up, glowing yellow, orange, and white.

SASHA (pointing at the Bio-Obliterator)

Ratchet sees it, and turns his board, zooming towards it.

Behind you!

He turns and sees Ace running like a bulldozer through every trap and wall, ripping through everything like paper. On his shoulders sit Gears, dual-wielding a set of blasters on her own.

RATCHET (to Angela and Sasha)
Go rescue the rest of the crew! I'll handle this!


Just go!

He zooms off towards the Bio-Obliterator. Sasha and Angela shrug at each other and dart off into the halls of the stadium.

At this point, every single enemy is trying to shoot Ratchet, thousands of laser shoots flinging through the air. But with impeccable, determined skill, he avoids every single one.

As he gets closer to the Bio-Obliterator, a huge, giant, armed robot with rocket-powered feet flies down, piloted by both Lawrence and Dr. Nefarious.

Now I shall have my revenge! Lawrence, destroy him!

The machine unloads a barrage of blasts at Ratchet, who zigs off course to avoid them.

The Bio-Obliterator grows brighter and brighter.


Angela and Sasha race through the internal halls of the stadium.

Do you know where we need to go?

If I remember the schematic correctly, it's over here!

She turns a corner and Angela follows. They eventually indeed reach where Qwark, Skidd, Big Al, and Helga are held captive.

Hey! Sasha! Angela!


Boy am I glad to see you! I bet you're just as glad to see (flexes) me…

Everyone just looks at Qwark.

Er, sorry.

Well, don't just float there! Get us out! Get us out!

In one second.

She hops off her board and fiddles with the nearby controls. Angela leaps off hers as well, checking the areas around them. She turns a corner, and sees several goons and robots running towards them.

Looks like we got company!

Just give me a minute…

Angela trips the first goon hard with a well-placed kick, and flips another over her back, throwing him into the robots. She grabs the dropped blaster off the ground and starts to provide cover fire.


A click is heard, and the gates open, freeing the crew from their prison!

Got it!

They all rush out the jail, staying low to avoid the laser fire.

Grab a weapon, guys! We're gonna have to fight our way out!

All six members battle their way down the hall, picking up the dropped weapons and the laser fire continues.

Lasers volley back and forth as the crew duck, cover, and return fire.

Angela and Sasha end up back-to-back, picking off two good shots and nailing their enemies. They look at each other and share a smile.

Make way, boys! Time to test this baby out!

The goons and bots separate as the Thug Leader drives in on a humvee-like vehicle with a huge machine gun attached to the front.

Time to make you's into mince-meat, meat-heads! Heh. That was pretty clever.

The gattling gun winds up before unloading a high-speed barrage of laser shots, around a hundred shots per second! The crew duck around the corners as their surroundings are destroyed by the gunfire!

There's no way we can get past this thing!

The car drives closer to them, the rest of their enemies following behind it.


The Bio-Obliterator gains more and more energy as Ratchet works his way around the stadium to dodge the bullets, with Ace, Gears, and Nefarious' robot on his tail.

He surfs underneath the Bio-Obliterator, maneuvering carefully around the thick, metal support poles holding it up. Continuous laser fire blasts in his direction, many of them striking the poles and knocking them down.

Loud creaking is heard as the center structure begins to fall apart. The poles collapse and pieces break apart, but Ratchet skillfully avoids them with jumps, ducks, and dodges, clearly in his element.

In time the massive screen with the timer rips off and falls, tearing a hole in the bottom of the Bio-Obliterator, ripping it as bursts of electrical energy and exposed wires and hoses drop from the destroyed section.

Gears looks up, seeing the screen crumple towards her and Ace, the latter too busy shooting at Ratchet to notice. She leans over and gives Ace a kiss on the forehead.

I don't think this relationship is going to work out. Hugs and kisses!

She jumps off and books it. Ace looks confused, but then looks up and sees the screen tumbling right towards him.

A high-pitched squeal emerges from his mouth, right before the screen crushes him flat.

Meanwhile, Nefarious' robot searches for Ratchet within the crumbling structure beneath the Bio-Obliterator, which still powers up, but is quivering atop the weakened structure.

Where are you, my little squishie friend? I want to make amends! And by that I mean I want to mend your entrails as a medal!

That was exceedingly gross, sir.

Yeah? You know, I was thinking that was a little overboard. How about 'I want to mend your face to the bottom of my foot'?

Poetic license is not your strong suit, sir.

As the two ramble on, Ratchet slips out in secret behind the Obliterator. Clank jumps off Ratchet and onto the back of the massive robot. He unlatches a compartment, exposing a glowing mechanical part, similar to an engine core.

He gives Ratchet the thumbs up. The Lombax grabs one the loose electric hoses dangling from the Bio-Obliterator.

Here's one, Nefarious—consider yourself hosed!

He shoves the end of the hose into the engine core. The robot writhes and shakes powerfully as it's overloaded with excess energy, making it glow, the rockets going from red to blue to white.

Nefarious jumps and squeezes Lawrence and screams as the robot surges upward with a huge burst of speed and energy, ripping through the rest of the structure, exploding through the roof and blasting off into space.

The Bio-Obliterator begins to roll off its hinges, the massive ball bouncing off, explosions ripping from the outer walls as it powers down and shuts off, becoming nothing more than a deadly, unstoppable metal boulder.

It rolls onto the stadium floor and tumbles over the walls and traps like nothing. Gears screams and sprints as the Bio-Obliterator topples after her.

She ducks into the doorway leading underneath the stadium. The ball still goes after her, rolling through the walls, outer structure, and obstacles without even slowing down.   read

8:18 PM on 09.01.2009

Fan Script - Ratchet and Clank: All or Nothing [Part 16 of ???]

Things are not boding well for our Lombax hero...

Next part is up!


Part 15 is here.


Ratchet surges into the gigantic, open field of the stadium around him. The air is alive with the deafening crowds, cheering and yelling frantically in unabashed excitement. Around him are the robotic remains of past warriors and destroyed weapons. In front of him, two giant robots clash in a heated hand-to-hand brawl.

On the other side of the field, high in the stands, within the announcer booth, Drek saunters in calmly, meeting with Nefarious, the Thug Leader, and Lawrence. The SCOREKEEPER ROBOT is also there, who seems to be tallying every blow the battling bots are giving each other down below.

I take it everything is ready?

Nefarious mumbles something unclear towards Drek.

What was that?

I said everything is ready! You…

He trails off into another set of unclear obscenities.

Drek gives Dr. Nefarious a look before he turns to the scorekeeper.

These moronic excuses for Rock'em Sock'em Robots are still at it?


...blow them both up.


He presses a button on the console in front of him.

On the battlefield, the mechanical warriors suddenly start beeping. They look down at the small collars that they're wearing; a light flashes on them. The look at each other, helplessly, and give each other a hug while crying.

Their heads explode right off. The audience cheers even louder.

Drek grabs an intercom piece and starts to talk into it, which booms and echo all around the stadium.

Looks like we have a tie!

Cheers fill the air excitedly at that announcement.

But enough with the small fries, folks. It time for the main event! We at the Megacorp-Gadgetron Corporation have managed to acquire, for your entertainment, the most famous and infamous creature the galaxy has ever seen, the intergalactic hero-turned-public enemy number one: ladies and gentlemen, introducing Ratchet!

The crowd replies in a mix of gasps, applause, and boos as every single light and camera focuses on Ratchet, who has to squint. Cameras flash and camcorders roll, watching his every reaction. His horrified face is even on the big screen.

Ratchet has… ahem, agreed to forgo a few years in prison to instead fight for life and death, all for you and your children!

The audience goes nuts.

And which of our sadistic gladiators will the Lombax be going up against? None of them! Instead, he will be going up a brand new enemy! A staple from many of your childhood pasts, coming back to right certain wrongs! Introducing Ace Hartlight two-point-O!

Ratchet's jaw drops as the crowds go wild. The whole battleground begins to shift now. Huge walls and deathtraps sprout from the walls and floors. Two massive tube-like structures slide out from the walls on opposite ends of the stadium. Electric wires, flamethrowers, spikes, sharpened pendulums—all sorts of dangerous torture devices spring up, including two boiling pots of acid under the tubes.

At the far end, a huge cage emerges from the ground upon a tower that rises into the air. Inside is ACE HARTLIGHT 2.0, a robotic version of a perfectly chiseled, handsome specimen of a man, with glowing read eyes.

He squeezes his cage bars, crushing the metal with ease. This makes the audience go crazy.

But that's not all, folks! Ratchet will have forty-five minutes to defeat Ace Hartlight. If he fails…

The numbers "45:00" appears on the corner of the big screen. Above that screen, however, rises what appears to be a giant, mechanical, miniature version of the Death Star. The audience oohs and aahs.

… that device, the Bio-Obliterator, created by the… uh… impressionable Doctor Nefarious, will turn you all into robots, where you will assist me in finishing my original plan of destroyed other planets to create another perfect planet, which I will exploit for my own gain and yadda, yadda, yadda. Don't bother to try and escape, or you will be shot. Thank you.

The audience gasps, although the robotic members still cheer and hoot.

And finally, just to up the ante, and just because I really don't care, at the thirty minute mark…

The two tubes suddenly shift open, revealing Sasha in one pole and Angela in the other. They bang at the glass, but are unable to escape. They are inaudible, but their eyes focus on the captured Lombax.

… Ratchet's two lovebirds will be dropped in two giant vats of boiling acid, forcing him to choose the one who he really pines for, and ignoring the one who he was just stringing along all this time. And that's if he can even get away to save them!

The audience is a mixed bag of emotions of cheers, yells, boos, and cries. Ratchet's concern is on the two females caught in their glass prison. The look on his face is of complete worthlessness.

It all boils down to this. Are you a hero, Ratchet? Or are you just a failure? Time will tell. Let's get it on!

Riding in on a flying hoverboard, Courtney Gears floats down onto the same platform that hosts the captured Ace Hartlight. She blows the robot a kiss before opening the gate, and a the machine comes sprinting out towards Ratchet, leaping over the walls and traps with ease.

Ratchet struggles in his chains as Ace pounds in closer and closer, his steps bending every metal platform he lands on. He leaps high into the air, over Ratchet's platform, and comes flying down, ready to crush the Lombax.

Suddenly, Ratchet's chains come loose. He immediately rolls off the platform as Ace lands on it, hard, ripping into the top like a wrecking ball. The crowd cheers as Ratchet lands on the ground, dodged a swinging sword from nowhere, and hauls tail through the maze of walls and traps.


Elsewhere in the darkened corridors is a room with the rest of the captured crew of the Discovery—Skidd, Helga, Big Al, and Captain Qwark. Qwark, specifically, is playing a harmonica.

Clank, however, is a prison of his own—he's attached to some sort of containment device. His head and feet are plugged into this device, and his eyes are pure white.


Inside Clank's head is another world, all green and composed mostly of lasers and circuitry. Clank, or a version of him, is stuck behind a set of green laser bars. Surrounding the bars is another set of robot ninja-pirates. One speaks, again, where his lips don't match his voice.

Arrg, matey! You won't be escaping this metaphorical representation of your computerized mental state. Ah-ha ha! Ha-ha! Ha!

You are lucky these bars are here. You know I very well can take you all.

Ha-ha! Ha! Those bars are powered by the computer's mainframe! There is absolutely no way that they will ever go off, ever!

All the robot pirate-ninjas start laughing.

The bars suddenly turn off.

The robot pirate-ninjas stop laughing.

Clank gives them a "start running" look.


Ratchet leans up against a wall, tired and bruised, but otherwise still intact. He looks around, making sure no cameras or lights are focused on him.

The booming sounds of Ace's footsteps are heard nearby. Ratchet holds his breath. The steps slowly start to fade away. He releases the air from his lungs and turns the corner—

And runs right into Ace.


He ducks as Ace swings a massive punch, which tears a hole into the metal wall. The Lombax flees again, leaping over flames and avoiding spinning spikes; Ace, being a robot now, runs though it all without a scratch. He even pulls out a laser blaster now, firing endlessly at Ratchet.

The Lombax dodges the blasts, but barely. He struggles to run through his fatigue, but he keeps on going. He turns another corner and ducks down into a small trench. Ace stops running, looking left and right for him.

A whistle noise is heard. Ratchet looks up from his hiding place, and sees Courtney Gears on her hoverboard, pointing right at him.

There he is, Acey-Poo!

Ace Hartlight groans and shakes his head, but then fires his blaster at Ratchet. He leaps out in the nick of time, and hustles out of there, Ace on his tail, Gears tracking him from above.


A final punch knocks the metal teeth out of the remaining robot ninja-pirate. Clank is surrounded by a number of the unconscious machines. He wipes his hands cleanly.

That was easy. Now, who would have released me from that cage?

There's a mechanical, computational sound that occurs behind Clank. He turns around. In the air floats a huge sequence of letters and numbers, flashing before his eyes. He scans them all, carefully, quickly. He gasps.


The coding sequence "opens" up like a door, revealing a giant green screen, completely blank save for a flashing cursor mark. CLANK'S MOM does not speak, but communicates through the text on the screen.

Hello, Clank.

I cannot believe I found you. I mean the odds are astronomical. One billion, four hundred thirty-eight million, nine hundred fifty-six thousand, seven hounded and twelve to one, to be exact.

Precisely. It is good to see you, too, Clank. But, unfortunately, this cannot last. There is something you must do.

What is it?

You must destroy me.

Clank gasps.


The timer ticks down to forty minutes.

Ratchet looks up at both Angela and Sasha. They're trying to be strong while confined but with each second they grow more and more worried. He can only return a helpless look, unable to do anything.

A massive blade flings by Ratchet, knocking him off his feet. He looks up, noticing Gears with a number of those blade-boomerang weapons. She starts tossing them like mad at the Lombax.

He jumps and leaps over each one before rushing out of her line of sight. He slides underneath another swinging pendulum, but is knocked hard against a wall by a swinging pole. Everything goes dizzy for him; he starts stumbling.


Clank shakes his head wildly.

But there must be some other option!

I have scanned every piece of my software. There is no other solution. Drek is using me for his purposes. The weapons in the stadium. The Bio-Obliterator.

Clank is hurt at the choice.

Do not worry. I will always be around, Clank. You once told me that you would try to make me proud.

Clank eyes look up at the screen in surprise.

You already have.

Clank smiles brightly at that message.

Ratchet is in great danger. He needs you. When I free you, Clank, you must tell him this message, for he is the only one that can save you all.

Which message is that?

Clank reads what the screen displays. He nods.

Lights begin to surround Clank. Everything begins to go white.


Clank's eyes slowly fade back to his traditional green color. The device trapping him recedes into the wall, freeing the little robot. He pushes himself up to his knees, then his feet, his face ready for action.

He sprints down the hall, little feet making clanking noises as he runs past the prisons with the rest of the Discovery crew.

It's Clank! And he is free!

Helga, Big Al, Skidd, and Qwark call out to Clank.

Hey! Clank! Save us! Get us out of here! Do you have the key! Open up these bars!

Clank runs right past.


The crewmembers stare at the disappearing Clank blankly.


Ratchet is done. Mentally.

Huffing and puffing as he holds his stomach and barely trots through the death course, the Lombax has nothing left. He leans against the wall, holding his weakened self up. The time reads thirty-six minutes.

A small, round, blinking device lands at Ratchet's feet. His eyes go wide and he tries to climb the wall to escape it.

It explodes and sends Ratchet flying through the air. The entire audience gasps as he lands hard onto the platform sporting Ace's cage.

Drek's laughter is heard through the intercom, all around the stadium.

It looks like it's all over for you, Ratchet. Do feel that? That humiliation? That pain?

Drek's voice grows angrier as he speaks.

That was my pain! That was my humiliation! I want you to feel every single sensation I felt that day you stopped me. You are a failure, Ratchet! And now, everyone knows!

Dr. Nefarious and the Thug Leader look at each other.

Whoa. And I thought I hated the little furball. That guy's off his rocker.

It takes one to know one, sir.

You're telling me. Wait, what?

Whatever, I'm just in it for the bolts.

Drek watches the barely mobile Ratchet with a quiet glee.

The Lombax is indeed feeling those sensations, with those hot lights, floating cameras, and awe-struck spectators helplessly watching.

Ace Hartlight 2.0 approaches the platform slowly, taking his time to reach him. Country Gears smirks, and flies over towards the announcer booth, to watch the final blow with the rest of Ratchet's enemies.

To the Lombax, there is no sound, no noise, no anything. He can barely move, his face frozen in the full realization of absolute disappointment.


-- He sees his sad face within the oasis

-- He records his message to the camera to the Discovery crew

-- He sees the disappointed looks of all his friends on Barlow

-- He reflects on the dream he had on the escape pod

Anyone can fall from grace, but it takes a particularly special someone to bring their friends down with them.

-- He witnesses the helpless faces of Sasha and Angela.


Ratchet slowly closes his eyes. He lets out a breath as if it was his last one.   read

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