After playing through Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction I realised that, at the same time of year every year, I pull out a Ratchet game and play it start to finish. And it always puts an enormous smile on my face. The characters and the colourful worlds ooze the same uplifting feel that the Disney and Amblimation films I’d watch during school holidays as a kid did, so while the Ratchet games are new relatively speaking, ripping into one is a little bit like settling down and cuddling up to a nice bit of nostalgia. And that feeling is a little bit like having a nice warm bowl of mum’s homemade soup. Only with a tad more Lombax.
There’s something to childhood tastes and sensibilities. They have this uncanny ability to latch onto things, obsessing over them, and consuming them over and over and over again. For an adult like me, deriving enjoyment from something for that long, well it’d be a bit like drawing blood from a stone. But for kids it’s all part of being young and unaware of the finite nature of time. They don’t need everything they consume to be the next War and Peace, they just need fart jokes and the occassional doe-eyed character getting up to a bit of shenanigans. Ah, to be young again.
But then you grow up. And let me tell you a little bit about how that goes.
Something happens to most of us in the brooding teenage years. Suddenly the Presidents of the United States of America CD that you’d play incessantly makes way for a Nine Inch Nails album, and instead of your parents having to listen to “I will survive in my Mach 5” blaring through the plasterboard walls, they’re stuck hearing Trent Reznor insist he wants to “f**k them like an animal”. It’s a hard time where, rather than everything seeming amazing, everything seems a little bit rubbish. Even fart jokes lose their shine, and those doe-eyed characters with their shenanigans, well they’re just kid’s stuff. You’re into heavy stuff now, stuff with meaning, stuff with purpose, the world sucks and you haven’t got time to muck about with bloody cartoons.
So for years you’re floating through the world hating anything and everything, searching for that figurative War and Peace that blows your mind and changes your world view. And if it’s not that then forget about it. Even the video games you’re playing change, as you’re attracted to games that ask the existential questions, that make you question the world and your own humanity. “I need mature games, I’m an adult you know, I need adult stories and stuff” you insist. “They do it poorly”, you say to yourself, “but they’re a hell of a lot better than they used to be”. And you’re mostly right.
And through this entire phase, there’s always mum with a nice bowl of warm soup, which somehow makes everything better.
But in the years that follow you’ll realise that they have a long way to go. You embarrassingly tell the story of how you thought Gears of War was “deep, man” years later.
So why am I telling you this absolutely fictional tale about a totally fictional person?
Well it’s winter in Australia right now, and like any Aussie worth their salt, I’m sitting inside counting down the days to summer. They’re the three months of the year that, if I’m ever going to feel a little bit down about things, that’s when it’ll be. Whether it’s seasonal affective disorder, or something imagined, for those three months my usual optimism gives way to an overwhelming sense of negativity, and at times, I’m only a hair’s breadth away from turning into that teenage Nine Inch Nails fan. And mum’s soup is nowhere to be seen. It’s cold. It’s miserable. And I bloody well hate it.
But I’ve found there’s nothing quite like a nice big bowl of Lombax Soup to make Every Thing feel better. Every year.
So thank you Insomniac Games, for being my video game equivalent of a bowl of warm soup.