Ratchet and Clank Character Design Influenced By Japanese Yakuza

In a recent episode of Double Fine’s “Devs Play” series, Ted Price, President and CEO of Insomniac Games, sat down with Tim Schafer, founder of DF, to play and discuss some development titbits from the original Ratchet and Clank, including influences from the Japanese Yakuza. Price explains this strange factor through a discussion on Ratchet’s five fingers, rather than the typical four of most animated characters:

“We always heard it was a Yakuza thing. This is not necessarily something we were ever told by our friends at Sony. It was that it was accepted as conventional wisdom that if you make characters that have a missing finger, then it implied that they were in trouble with the mob, or that they were bad because they were missing a finger.”

Schafer then joked, “That is true, if all the movies I’ve seen are not lying to me. All the Yakuza movies I’ve seen, that does happen.”

But that wasn’t the only influence to come out of Japan, as Price cites the protagonist’s colour change as the result of internal creative discussions:

“One of the biggest debates we had early on was, “What colour should Ratchet be?” We went through a lot of colours: purple, yellow, blue. We had big palettes on the wall, and we ended up making him brown; the brown of his helmet. He started off brown, and he didn’t have any markings. And we were in a meeting with Sony Japan, and the guys were saying, “You know, we think Ratchet is cool, but he’s not going to work for our audience.” And I said, “What do you mean?” “Yeah, he needs to have a different colour; he should probably be yellow; he should probably have stripes on his ears.” And I said, “Over my dead body are we going to change him.”

Further conversation focuses on Insomniac’s shared tech with Naughty Dog during Ratchet’s development cycle, Clank’s voice actor, David Kaye, and Tim Schafer’s Psychonauts.

You can watch the full let’s play above to hear more of their informative, yet friendly, banter.

Insomniac’s next game will be a reimagining of the original Ratchet and Clank, and is due for release on April 12, with a movie version hitting theatres on April 28.

Be sure to check back here at Power Up Gaming for a full review this Spring

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