Ruff Trigger: The Vanocore Conspiracy

Updated 07-10-2010
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Ruff Trigger: The Vanocore Conspiracy

[Many video games build upon the concepts and mechanics of their forerunners. Off-Brand Games examines those that draw just a little too much... inspiration.]

I played the original Ratchet & Clank for the first time the other week and can easily see the parallels between it and the Jak series. Both star a traditional comedy duo, feature a cache of fantastic and inventive weapons, and even share engine assets. Insomniac and Naughty Dog have made no secret that they were in bed with one another, resulting in a pair of franchises that was the vanguard of the PS2's platforming library.

Something else to note is how these games showcase Western platforming design philosophies. Western developers dedicate a lot of focus to smooth animations and slapstick, sharing more in common with Saturday-morning cartoons than Super Mario Bros. Just look at the third pillar of the PS2's platforming foundation, Sly Cooper. I can't be the only one catching a SWAT Kats vibe from that game's art.

See, I'm a very Japan-centric gamer, but I'm not opposed to Western efforts that effectively bottle the spirit of childhood whimsy. What I oppose is the slop that rapes those childhood sentiments in a forced bid towards edginess. The Jak series crossed this line after the first game, and it's a testament to the skilled developers at Naughty Dog that the sequels managed to rise above those shortcomings.

Ruff Trigger does not.

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