The life and times of Cronk and Zephyr

This post will contain spoilers for most of the Ratchet and Clank games on PS3.  Although I doubt anybody cares I am just saying :-).

In anticipation of the up and coming Ratchet and Clank reboot Carla and I have been playing through all the Ratchet and Clank games.

I am not the world best player but after having spent hundreds and hundreds of hours playing every single Ratchet and Clank game on PS3 more than once I have become a bit of a ‘connoisseur’ when it comes to these games.

Carla and I just finished episode 3 but somewhere in between studying for my exam today I skipped ahead and played ‘Nexus’ during my study breaks.  So naturally being the ‘connoisseur’ that I am I started playing the game on legendary.  Not bragging – just bragging :-).

And boy was I surprised at how much I enjoyed the game.  I played the whole thing in one afternoon, granted it is a very short game, and I had one heck of a time.

Because as you might know.  The first time I played it it was a complete miss hit.


Because of Cronk and Zephyr…

You see – Ratchet and Clank is one of those rare video games where the villains are written so well that they almost always make return cameos or appearances and frequently end up becoming ‘anti-heroes’.  It started with Quark back in episode two and shortly thereafter – doctor Nefarious.  My kids like doctor Nefarious more than they like some of the other ‘good’ characters in the game.

And then they’ve got these amazing side characters.  Like the plummer who I strongly suspect represents God.

Since ‘tools of destruction’ Insomniac did bank on Talwyn Apogee to become Ratchet’s girlfriend but so far none of the story writers wanted to commit.

Her adoptive parents were two old war bots named Cronk and Zephyr.

Now the IGN review said that nexus was written as an epilogue to the future series??  Did the future series even need an epilogue?  See the original IGN review here – although I strongly suspect that everybody who even cares have already done so :-).

Now you need to appreciate where I come from:

When Dr. Nefarious’ space station blows up in ‘a crack in time’ there is a moment in which Ratchet realizes that he and Crank will not survive the explosion and there’s no immediate way off the ship.  In that moment Ratchet turns to Clank and says “Clank – it’s been a hell of a ride”.

Yes I’ll admit that I shed a few man tears.  That was deep man – deep.  Even as I type here I feel the emotions :-).

And then came nexus.  Bloody hell.

Enter Vendra and Neftin Prog – two psychopathic criminals.  In the very beginning Insomniac establishes these two as the worst that Ratchet and Clank has ever seen by killing off Cronk and Zephyr with a bomb that was also meant for Ratchet and Clank.

Ratchet breaks the news to Talwyn and even though she pleads with him to come back to Meridian City, Ratchet swears to make things right.

And then things go really south.

Eventually Ratchet corners Vendra and and Neftin but they succeed in summoning the Nether Overlord and it turns out the Never Overlord is the real villain and he was just using Vendra to get to our dimension?? What??  These are the killers of Cronk and Zephyr for crying out loud.  Show some respect.

Afterwards we are told to believe that the dimensionator is available in Meridian city and that Neftin can somehow fix it in a couple of minutes.  Ratchet and Clank goes in and ‘steal’ the dimentionator – is this suppose to make us go soft on Vendra and Neftin?  No I’m sorry – show some respect for the love of the plumber!  These people killed Cronk and Zephyr – how many times do I have to say it.  Then Ratchet strikes an alliance with Neftin and the agreement is that Neftin will willingly go to prison afterwards.  And guess what they seal it with – a flippin handshake.

Then to add insult to injury Ratchet never hooks up with Talwyn, he never locates his parents, the dimensionator is broken ‘again’ and now suddenly Neftin can’t fix it because he is in prison?  At least the end scene shows Clank grabbing it – perhaps to keep on working on it or whatever.  Excuse me – an epilogue to what?

Needless to say I was not happy when I finished the game for the first time.  The problem is not that it was a bad game.  As a mentioned I thoroughly enjoyed my replay of it.  The problem is that Insomniac pulled the same stupid stunt that Bioware did with Mass Effect.  Somehow the writers fail to realize how attach we get to these characters.

This could have been so epic.  The Nethers could have invaded the dimension with the Lombaxes (Ratchet’s family) in and Ratchet could have hooked up with his parents.  Then something could have happened in the Solana galaxy that forced Ratchet to go back and ‘save Talwyn’ or whatever and then due to some weird circumstances Ratchet could have been forced to choose between saving Talwyn and being with his family in a Final Catastrophic event that completely destroyed the dimensionator.  Perhaps they could even have thrown in a few minutes of Clank talking to Orvus – somewhere in between dimensions.  Or whatever :-).

Please, grey morality belongs to the Witcher universe.  Not to Ratchet and Clank.  Why off Cronk and Zephyr in the beginning only to redeem their murderers less than eight hours later and in a most unbelievable fashion?  At least with doctor Nefarious it took a whole new game and still hours upon hours of game play to ‘sort of’ get him redeemed.  I haven’t forgotten that Dr. Nefarious killed Orvus (or at least was intimately involved with his death) but my kids had a lot of fun in ‘All for one’ and at least it is consistent with the characters’ growth over time.  Frankly we are asked to believe that the sole redeeming factor for Vendra is that Neftin came after her.  That suddenly changed her from murdering psychopath to ‘loving sister’.  Hell no!  Cronk and Zephyr are worth more than that.

Please stop this.  Don’t give us epic stories where the ending is like a cold shower just because you ‘need’ the story line open for the sake of making future games.  Why couldn’t they just give the future series a proper sendoff and start during a later time line.  Who knows perhaps Ratchet and Talwyn could have married and have kids.  How epic would that be?  We end up playing as Ratchet Junior.

One of the reason the Uncharted series is doing so well is because Amy Hennig understood this.  I have to confess I am worried that the ‘two boys’ from last of us are going to give Uncharted the same ‘interrupted’ send off.  We’ll have to wait and see.  I agree that ‘the last of us’ is the superior game but the kind of character development that we see in uncharted is unprecedented in any game series.  Do not kill Helena.  And if Sully has to die – do it in a manner that’s worthy of the time we spent with him.  We care about these characters damn it.

We’ve seen it with Assassin’s creed 3 and Desmond’s send off.  What started as very epic sci fi ended as open ended bullshit.  Mass effect 3.  Even Deus Ex human revolution.  Excellent writing, characters and intrigue with endings that my seven year old daughter can improve on.  We are being set up only to be dropped in the middle of nowhere.  It’s just cruel.

So at least I have stopped pre-ordering.

I will wait for reviews but frankly I will buy Uncharted 4 even if the reviews say it’s crap which, granted, is extremely unlikely to happen.  But I’ll do it for old times sake.  The problem is that the last excellent Ratchet and Clank game was Crack in time although I did enjoy ‘all for one’ for what it was.  ‘Q force’ wasn’t really a Ratchet and Clank game.  I think they were just doing for the sake of a birthday celebration.  It might have been more fun if my kids were older and we each had our own copy.

So we will definitely watch the movie.  Since it’s going to be a reboot I wonder if we’ll see anything of Cronk and Zephyr.  And Talwyn.  I heard the main villain is going to be chairman Drek again but apparently he is getting a make over.

It hurts that it may be years before we see any real progress in the saga.

Here’s to hoping they don’t screw this one up…

And here’s to Cronk and Zephyr…

Rest in peace guys


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