Shadow of the Colossus does a fantastic job of capturing an element of realism in its game. Similar to its predecessor, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus follows the story of a male protagonist. Fortunately for this protagonist, he is not dragged into a cell, but does instead attempt to resurrect a maiden. The resurrection of … Continue reading Shadow of the Colossus: Return of R1 →
Shadow of the Colossus does a fantastic job of capturing an element of realism in its game. Similar to its predecessor, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus follows the story of a male protagonist. Fortunately for this protagonist, he is not dragged into a cell, but does instead attempt to resurrect a maiden. The resurrection of the maiden will be a topic in the next log post most likely, but I would like to discuss realism in Shadow of the Colossus.
Obviously the game does not represent reality since there has been no discovery of a giant bridge and hidden temple in our history, nor have the armored remains of colossal creatures been discovered (yes, dinosaurs are being excluded). In this game, magic is real and a deity communicates with the protagonist. But excluding how the setting is unrealistic, consider how this game addresses realistic elements with the human body.
The trade-off between making a game fun and realistic is hard to balance. Magic allows for the sword’s lack of realistic qualities excusable, but consider the mechanic to grip things R1. In ICO, R1 was used to hold a character’s hand and was critical in completing the game. In Shadow of the Colossus, the same button is used to grip the fur or “holdable areas” on certain landscapes and monsters’ bodies. If the player does not climb the beast, defeating the Colossuses is implausible. Combined with a sphere-like meter that gauges the energy you have to grip things, the mechanic becomes a difficult key to success. If there is no energy, there is no climbing.
Other aspects such as riding the horse and certain physics within the game apply, but these topics will most likely be addressed in later posts. I find it fascinating how the evolution from ICO to Shadow of Colossus not only makes health and safety important, but that the same mechanic used in establishing a relationship can be used in slaying monsters. Maybe there is a message about human nature or the duality of man, but until I conduct more research, I am left only with speculation.
One of Ratchet and Clank’s defining characteristics is its self-referential nature and awareness that it is a video game. Ratchet and Clank regularly makes strides to make this clear to player, to a point that almost comes across as excessive. For instance, the game’s narrative is framed as a story of Ratchet and Clank’s exploits told by the character Captain … Continue reading Game Log #9 (Ratchet and Clank): The Meta-Narrative →
One of Ratchet and Clank’s defining characteristics is its self-referential nature and awareness that it is a video game. Ratchet and Clank regularly makes strides to make this clear to player, to a point that almost comes across as excessive. For instance, the game’s narrative is framed as a story of Ratchet and Clank’s exploits told by the character Captain Qwark after the game’s events have already passed. The character he relates the story to, named Shiv Helix, professes that he is a “huge fan of Ratchet and Clank” and he “can’t wait to play the new video game” based on their heroic tale. The game’s sense of cynicism that I discussed in my last Game Log ties directly into this attitude, as the game acknowledges its existence as a reboot by having several characters from past installments reflect on this out loud.
From its opening moments, Ratchet and Clank makes numerous similar winks and nods towards the player. I think this may be an effort on the part of the developers to give Ratchet and Clank a carefree and fun vibe. In all fairness, the game is a colorful platformer that rarely punishes a player’s failures and features weapons like a disco bomb that cause enemies to dance to their deaths. By instilling the game with an attitude of self-awareness, Insomniac strives to paint the Ratchet and Clank universe as one of adventure, fun and a lack of serious consequences.
However, while in-game remarks about the Ratchet and Clank’ series’ high quality can be read as meta, they also can reflect a sort of insecurity, as if the game is telling itself that it is good. I do not think that this was the primary or conscious intention of the developers, but it still was one of the first thoughts that occurred to me while playing the game. As a player that has never had a significant experience playing Ratchet and Clank before, I immediately questioned why the game felt the need pat itself on the back before I even had the chance to try it.
In the consideration of Ratchet and Clank’s meta-narrative, I am drawn to the discussions on meta games that we have had in our own class. Having played and seen some of the meta games created by my classmates, I am struck by the similarities that some of these game’s share with Ratchet and Clank. Like many of the class’ projects, Ratchet and Clank is aware that it is a video game, and therefore functions as a video game about games. Notability, however, none of the class’ games use this self-referential attitude in order to validate themselves as Ratchet and Clank does. Ratchet and Clank’s meta attitude ultimately serves to further the general uncomfortableness its seems to have with existing. While the game’s tendency to compliment itself runs counter to the cynicism and self-loathing that I have previously discussed in Game Log #8, it ultimately contributes to a general vibe of strangeness that becomes one of Ratchet and Clank’s defining characteristics. In the pursuit charm, Ratchet and Clank achieves a feeling quite the opposite. Like someone desperately fishing for compliments, Ratchet and Clank becomes defined by a disconcerting lack of self-assuredness.
I’ll admit right off the bat that it was not my intention to play the 2016 reboot of Ratchet and Clank as my third game for these Game Logs. However, due to a series of technical difficulties, I found myself rummaging through a friend’s game collection looking for an alternative to Shadow of the Colossus. I stumbled upon Ratchet and … Continue reading Game Log #8 (Ratchet and Clank): Developer Cynicism →
I’ll admit right off the bat that it was not my intention to play the 2016 reboot of Ratchet and Clank as my third game for these Game Logs. However, due to a series of technical difficulties, I found myself rummaging through a friend’s game collection looking for an alternative to Shadow of the Colossus. I stumbled upon Ratchet and Clank, and decided to go for it. I had heard of Ratchet and Clank previously and knew it to be a Playstation classic, though my only experience playing it came from a brief stint trying out one of the series’ spin-offs on a PSP many years ago. I figured playing through a reboot of a classic series could give me some unique points to consider.
My first impression of Ratchet and Clank was one that really surprised me: it seems to be a game that sort of detests its own existence. The game is rife with a sense of cynicism, constantly referencing the fact that it is retreading old material. Characters that have appeared in previous installments state phrases like “oh, you look familiar,” or “see you in the next reboot,” while other bits of dialogue express a detest for pre-order content, a practice that has recently become a big-budget game staple.
While I would have thought that the game’s developers would have been happy to create an edition of Ratchet and Clank fit for a new age of consoles, the game is full of a sense of angst toward the need to start everything from the beginning. The quips appear to be directed against the corporate interests that demanded Ratchet and Clank start its story over, with the game’s main villain being a disdainful corporate industrialist that cares little for the people that consume his products. The nature of the game to reflect a distain for itself causes me to think that the developers were annoyed at the idea of tossing out the relationship between Ratchet and Clank that they have developed over the course of the series’ numerous installments. I can understand how having to scrap everything and start from the beginning could be a trying experience for a veteran game studio like Insomniac that has spent years building the Ratchet and Clank story.
There is also a chance that I am misinterpreting interpreting Ratchet and Clank’s sarcasm for angry cynicism. Perhaps the game’s tendency to reference its reboot nature comes from a sense of self assuredness that Insomniac has developed over the years as an experienced game studio. My reading of the game’s attitude, however, is one that I had never experienced playing a game before. Never before have I felt like a game was constantly trying to tell me about its feelings on the manner in which it was made, and the result left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable.