What a treat! PlayStation.Blog’s well-liked Behind the Classics series continues with an inside story behind another iconic PlayStation series, this time from celebrated developer Insomniac Games. The Burbank-based studio has produced a slew of memorable PlayStation titles, from the beloved PSone platformer Spyro the Dragon to the soulful PS3 shooter Resistance 3. But in 2002, Insomniac captivated both mainstream and hardcore gamers with the introduction of Ratchet & Clank, a technically peerless shooter-platformer hybrid that radiated style and spunk.
With November 4th marking the 10-year anniversary of Ratchet & Clank’s release on PS2, PlayStation.Blog caught up with Ted Price, Insomniac Games’ president and CEO, to learn more about how this impactful PlayStation powerhouse came to be. To learn more about the development of this classic series, be sure to check out our recent post that showcases 10 years of concept art.
It’s easy to forget that “tactical espionage action” is a relatively recent innovation in the videogame medium, with trailblazers like Metal Gear Solid and Syphon Filter emerging in the late ’90s to great acclaim and even greater influence. A more realistic, open-ended philosophy towards combat soon spread through the action genre, permanently impacting the development of artificial intelligence, level design, and narrative — ultimately paving the way for everything from Sly Cooper to Assassin’s Creed.
Syphon Filter veered closer to the action-adventure end of this spectrum, though it too left a distinct mark on the genre with its more realistic approach to combat. Enemies ducked for cover behind objects, an array of memorable gadgets gave players more combat choice, and headshots dropped most combatants instantly. Syphon Filter’s high-stakes story was also a sign of things to come in videogame design, merging contemporary themes (programmable viruses, shadowy terrorist networks) with a globe-trotting super spy in protagonist Gabe Logan.
Ah, Soul Reaver. I remember it well! This gruesome little gem made quite the splash when it landed on PSone in 1999. As the wounded, ostracized vampire Raziel, your goal was to avenge yourself against the corrupt vampire lord Kain and restore balance to the decaying world of Nosgoth. I particularly remember the game’s inspired approach to combat; your vampiric foes couldn’t be killed by ordinary means, so after weakening them with hand-to-hand combat you had to hurl their broken bodies onto a sharp stake or into a patch of sunlight to finish them off. The level design was also a knockout, as Raziel was able to phase-shift into a spectral realm in order to bypass obstacles or solve puzzles.
But above all else, Soul Reaver is remembered for its story and characters.
This week’s instalment in our on-going Behind The Classics series takes us to the weird and wonderful land of Oddworld. It might not have sold 20 million copies but few games released in the PlayStation era have such a loyal following as Abe’s Oddysee and its sequels. And with good reason – Lorne Lanning’s beautiful side-scrolling fantasy adventure is one of the richest, most singular game worlds ever created and its hero, Abe, one of gaming’s most eccentric protagonists.
With an HD remake currently in development, we caught up with the game’s creator to find out how the 1997 original came into being. Sit back and enjoy – and if you’re new to the title remember that it’s available to download on the PS Store.
The second entry in our Behind the Classics series is a real lost gem – SCE Cambridge Studios’ wild, wacky supernatural adventure MediEvil. First released on PSone back in 1998, it put you in the shoes of Sir Daniel Fortesque – an undead knight unwittingly reanimated by the evil sorcerer Zarok who embarks on a quest to liberate the kingdom of Gallowmere.
A sequel followed in 2000, with a PSP remake also popping up on PSP in 2005, however, it’s the original game that remains most embedded in the memory. With Sir Dan soon to enjoy a comeback of sorts as a playable character in PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale, we sat down with original designer Chris Sorrell to find out more about the game’s development.
When I took over the SCEE PlayStation Blog a month or two back, I promised you a few new regular features. Today, I’m happy to unveil the first of them: Behind The Classics. Every fortnight (well, that’s the plan at least), we’ll be talking to the creative force behind a vintage PS One or PlayStation 2 title. To kick things off, Naughty Dog co-founder Andy Gavin was kind enough to lend us his time to discuss the making of seminal 2001 PS2 platformer Jak & Daxter.
We’ve got the next few entries in the series lined up, but please feel free to leave your suggestions for future interview subjects below. Manage your expectations – these people aren’t always easy to track down – but we’ll do our best.