Everyone knows I play an excessive amount of comic book related video games, a reasonable enough deduction seeing I manage and produce content for a site called “Comic Gamers Assemble.” However, what you may not know, you may want to be sitting down for this, is that I sometime’s play video games…that are just video games. I know, take that in, I’ll wait.
One of my favorite series of games that I own every chapter for, with the exception of a HD Collection of games I already own, is Ratchet and Clank, a series about an anthropomorphic cat-like alien referred to as a Lombax, Ratchet, and his robotic sidekick, Clank. What makes the series so great in my books is its near perfect combination of platforming (a genre I’m an absolute sucker for,) shooting, humor, characters and creative off the wall weapons, that range from the exceptionally deadly (the R.Y.N.O, or Rip You a New One,) to the absurd (the Groovitron Glove that launches grenades which make enemies, including bosses, break out in uncontrollable dance.)
The series, at least in my opinion, has fallen on hard times as of late, due to plat-formers not quite being as high in demand as they once were with people craving more drab, brown military shooters. What was once a high-profile franchise on Sony’s PS2/PS3 console is now nothing more than a series of half-hearted experiments (the multi-player All 4 one; the awful tower defense spin-off Full Frontal Assault) and woefully short but excellent budget titles (last fall’s Into the Nexus.)
As we approached the August 1st release of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy (less than a month now, but who’s counting,) the marketing blitz has begun. Already I’ve seen t-shirts, toys, Lego sets and of best of all, new comics. Guardians of the Galaxy already has an ongoing series penned by Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man, Powers, Avengers) but this past week saw the release of not one, but two spin-offs: Legendary Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon from writer/artist Skottie Young.
Not to take way anything from Legendary Star-Lord, which I did buy any enjoy, but Rocket Raccoon is something that both comic fans and non comic fans alike should run out to their comic book store and buy right away. It’s like a modern-day Looney Tunes cartoon, replacing Bugs Bunny with a foul mouth, cybernetically enhanced, ladies man raccoon who happens to carry a big gun and knows how to use it. Best of all, it’s a perfect way to get to know that raccoon guy from the “hooked on a feeling” trailer you keep seeing at the movies, and also free of that pesky continuity that keeps people away from getting into a new comic series.
In keeping in line with what I feel makes some of the best comic book games: taking a comic character and then making them fit into the right game type, I kept thinking when reading the excellent pre-release buzz for Rocket Raccoon #1 that it would be so great to have a Rocket Raccoon game spliced in with the trapping of the Ratchet and Clank series. It has all the right elements in place: a big gun-toting, jet pack wearing, space ship piloting animal creature, that just happens to also have a partner of his own, I’m of course speaking of Groot.
In the Ratchet and Clank series, the character of Clank serves a number of purposed outside of being a loyal friend and companion: he acted as a jet pack, had the ability to manipulate time, was able to access small areas that Ratchet couldn’t to solve puzzles and at points transformed into a giant destructive robot. Now, Groot may not be able to turn into a jetpack, and why would he need to when Rocket already has one, but he could more than serve as a melee focused giant brute that could break up all the shooting action. As Groot can also regenerate from anything up to a splinter, Rocket could also throw his buddy into say, an area he can’t reach to wreak some havoc, or perhaps sneak into a vent as a tiny sapling.
So Rocket and Groot share a lot of parallel’s with Ratchet and Clank: shooting large-caliber weapons, flying space ships, and planet hopping adventure. One common thread among the two properties do not share is subtly. Ratchet and Clank has forever been a “T” rated game series that in spite of that can be enjoyed by a younger crowd. Rocket? He likes to swear, drink and hit on ladies. Which brings me to the second part of why this game could work; Rocket can fill the gap that Rare’s “Conker” franchise hasn’t since 2005.
Once upon a time, in the early 2000’s, the developer Rare was once owned by Nintendo and turned the cute and cuddly mascot platforming genre on its head…then smashed it in with a frying pan with the release of Conker’s Bad Fur day on the Nintendo 64. It starred a drunken, womanizing squirrel who after becoming black out drunk, woke up the next day to find out his girlfriend Berri was missing. The game’s combination of Rare’s pedigree, combined with themes that were considered more mature compared to Nintendo’s Mario and even Rare’s own Banjo-Kazooie made it a hit that is remembered incredibly fondly by those who’ve played it. Since its release back in 2001, it has never received a sequel, only a remake on the original Xbox that many consider worse despite being on much better hardware.
Conker is the type of character that if such things could happen, would probably hang out with Rocket and the two would try to drink each other under the table. Microsoft, who now owns Rare is not doing much of anything with the character other than placing him in their upcoming Project Spark, an amalgamation of LittleBigPlant and Minecraft. Anyone making games now who would love to bring about the second coming of Conker could do a hell of a lot worse than making a Rocket Raccoon game.
Rocket Raccoon has been a cult favorite character for some time but with a critical darling of a first issue that is already gone into second printing, as well as being part of the next blockbuster Marvel Studios film, the character is going to spill over into the mainstream in a major way. Should the Guardians of the Galaxy become the hit other Marvel films have, a logical extension of the property could very well be a solo Rocket Raccoon video game. Now, I would still love to see the character show up in a Guardians of the Galaxy Mass-Effect-esque RPG, but a Ratchet and Clank inspired plat-forming game with all the over the top vulgarity of Conker’s Bad Fur Day could would also be something special. Hell, is it too much to ask for both to get into production?