DreadZone is an illegal gladiatorial combat sport in Deadlocked. It was a holovision program filmed in the Shadow Sector of the Solana Galaxy, and produced by the Vox Network. The brainchild of Gleeman Vox, the premise of the show as that heroes would be forced to compete and fight for their survival against gladiators, including the top gladiators known as the Exterminators. It was filmed in the Battledome, a large arena on the DreadZone Station, and several battlecourses across planets in the sector. DreadZone was commentated by Dallas Wanamaker and Juanita Alvaro, the anchormen of Vox News. It had trillions of fans, but outside the Shadow Sector was largely unknown.
Ratchet, Clank, and Al were forced to compete in DreadZone shortly after learning Captain Starshield had just been killed on the show himself, competing as Team Darkstar. Though he was underestimated at every turn, Ratchet beat several DreadZone records, and ultimately defeated Ace Hardlight, the five-time grand champion of the show, to become grand champion himself, all while Clank and Al worked to undermine the show from within. Eventually, the group were able to find a way to free the heroes held captive aboard the DreadZone Station, and Ratchet defeated Gleeman Vox.
What if these interplanetary heroes that I hear so much about could be coerced into risking their lives, not for such tawdry concepts as freedom, justice, or universal survival, but for cold hard bolts and the entertainment of billions?Gleeman Vox' idea for DreadZone, Deadlocked manual, p. 12
Gleeman Vox had the idea for DreadZone after seeing heroes on the news. After a few phone calls following his idea to force heroes to fight on a gladiatorial combat show for bolts, the show was born. Vox had aspirations not just of top holovision ratings and multimillion bolt merchandising deals, but also to spread battlecourses from planet to planet and galaxy to galaxy, eventually ruling all of known space. Dallas Wanamaker later claimed that DreadZone started over "two guys fighting over a breakfast burrito".
Gleeman Vox met with Ace Hardlight shortly after Ace had gone into hiding following the destruction of his homeworld. Other heroes were captured for DreadZone and forced to wear deadlock collars, devices that would electrocute those entering restricted areas or detonated if a contestant was uncooperative or boring. The heroes were mostly captured beneath the notice of the rest of the universe.[a]
DreadZone became a hugely successful operation, gathering at least six trillion fans across four galaxies, with four trillion sentient life forms watching the show in the Shadow Sector. Ace Hardlight was grand champion for five seasons, though Captain Starshield during his run came close, having beaten every record ever set on DreadZone during his time and performed well enough that the other Exterminators refused to fight him. Ace Hardlight eventually killed Starshield in an episode that was a huge ratings hit for the show.
DreadZone ran for at least five seasons over up to six years prior to Ratchet's arrival.[b]
Ratchet was kidnapped and forced to participate in DreadZone just a week after Starshield's death. He was placed in Team Darkstar, a team that included Clank and Al, who would have been killed under normal protocol were it not for Vox instead recruiting them to save bolts, along with combat bots Merc and Green, who had been acquired from a former deceased contestant. Ratchet's first battle was scheduled shortly after another hero, Mobius Man, was killed in the Battledome.
Although Ratchet was estimated to merely be fodder for contestants such as Hydro Girl and Gray Thunder, he went onto exceed expectations. As well as defeating all four Exterminators, he made it further in the Maraxus Prison battlecourse than any previous contestant, going onto being commended for his performance in the battlecourse being one of the best in DreadZone history. In spite of being slandered by Vox, Ratchet was very popular amongst the fans. After Ratchet defeated Ace Hardlight but refused Vox's offer to become champion Exterminator himself, he was sent to one final battlecourse, the Ghost Station, an experimental course that had never been used before in DreadZone due to being mathematically proven to be unbeatable. Once again, defying expectations, Ratchet beat the course.
Ratchet and Team Darkstar attempted to lower the Battledome's containment fields and free all the heroes held on the DreadZone Station, though Gleeman Vox instead rigged it with six gigatons of nitroglycerin. This framed the final episode of DreadZone: if Ratchet did not lower the containment fields in time, the station would explode, killing all heroes, DreadZone staff, and fans that were onboard the station. Unusually, Vox framed himself as the villain for this episode, with Dallas and Juanita praising and rooting for Ratchet. Ratchet managed to free the heroes, as Clank and Al evacuated them on escape shuttles. Vox fought Ratchet in one final battle, hoping for a grand finalefight that would be the best ratings he'd had. Instead, after defeating Vox, Ratchet was evacuated on a final escape shuttle, and was able to survive. Some heroes, including Kid Nova and Hydro Girl, contacted Ratchet thereafter to thank him for freeing them.
Contestants in DreadZone must compete in the game show by completing various combat challenges, either in tournaments at the DreadZone Station, or on various battlecourses. Completing a battlecourse campaign grants the contestant a DreadZone medal, of which there are ten total: green, orange, blue, and black (four of the former, two each for the others). Collecting all medals of a color lets a contestant access the next tournament, the completion of which lets them ascend in rank, which unlocks new locations. Courses also require a specific number of Dread Points, alongside the required rank, to be able to access them. Dread Points are acquired by completing Dread Challenges, which are optional challenges independent from the campaign (not all courses possess them either) and often with a unique mechanic. Contestants can view theirs and the top contestants' (both active and deceased) Dread Points total on the Rank-O-Meter.
Aside from medals and points contestants also receive bolts[c] for completing challenges. Bolts are also received through completing skill points and by destroying units deployed by Vox Industries, the latter of which grant the most by far. Contestants can use them to buy new weapons and ammunition, as well as omega mods (and alpha mods in challenge mode). Ratchet also has the opportunity to buy weapons and upgrades for his combat bots. Gadgets and items cannot be purchased otherwise, and are instead only intermittently granted early on by completing battlecourses.
New DreadZone 'volunteers' first have to complete the Marauder Tournament's qualification course within the allotted time, generally directly after their kidnapping and being forced to wear a deadlock collar. This is then followed by the Advanced Qualifier after which they have completed the introductory tournaments. Later tournaments include the Avenger, Crusader, Vindicator, and Liberator tournaments. Each grant the victor a new set of armor, although only Ratchet was actually seen wearing it.
Obtained from the Rank-O-Meter throughout Deadlocked. Dread Points refers to their final points total by the end of the show.
The Exterminators were one of the longest running DreadZone teams, comprised of Shellshock, Reactor, the Eviscerator, and Ace Hardlight (their leader). Their role was to serve as tournament champions, effectively blocking other contestants from climbing up the ranks. Although the Exterminators were one of the most popular teams on DreadZone, at least one Exterminator (Ace) was commonly disliked by viewers. The team held a record number of kills, being responsible for the death of many other DreadZone contestants. Ultimately, they were defeated by Team Darkstar.
|Ace Hardlight||Ace Hardlight is a former hero who disappeared before becoming champion of DreadZone. Ace achieved a record of killing thirteen DreadZone contestants in one season after he killed Starshield, The Brown Ranger, and Mad Monkey McKnight. Though he is heavily marketed by Vox, he is unpopular with viewers, resulting in poor sales.||277,550|
|The Eviscerator||A creature with blades on his arms used as weapons, described as a "master of disembowelment and a fantastic chef". Eviscerator is incapable of speech, but is nonetheless intelligent; as such, DreadZone developed means to communicate with him by feeding him test bots. Eviscerator killed four victims in the same season as Ratchet.||145,800|
|Reactor||Formerly a high school math teacher, Reactor is a robot who had a nuclear explosive surgically implanted into his chest as he joined the DreadZone circuit, done to impress his girlfriend, Courtney Gears. Reactor had a notable fan in the form of Vernon.||103,100|
|Shellshock||Ivan Von Shellshocktonberg is a cyborg who was a veteran of the Obani Moon War. The Obanian Army enhanced him twice: first with a mechanical headpiece after a parasailing accident paralyzed him from the neck up, and later with both a fully mechanical suit and parts of his brain tissue replaced by a super-charged AI chip from a coffee machine, rendering him immune to pain, after a missile accident. Shellshock defeated the Omega Twins before he fought and lost to Ratchet.||78,400|
DreadZone recruits heroes by luring them with false distress signals pointing to the Shadow Sector, where they are kidnapped.[d]
|Ratchet||Was a member of Team Darkstar, and broke a number of DreadZone records.||Active||357,000|
|Captain Starshield||During his run, Starshield beat every record ever set on DreadZone, and other Exterminators refused to fight him. Eventually was killed by Ace Hardlight on Catacrom Four.||Deceased||234,400|
|Quaternion X||Mentioned only.||Deceased||201,700|
|Hydro Girl||A superheroine adventuress from Aquatos, present in the same season as Ratchet. Her fight, along with a hero named Gray Thunder, was scheduled just after Ratchet's first, and advertised as one more exciting.||Active||139,090|
|Quasar Flare||Mentioned only.||Deceased||131,300|
|Plasma Ray||Mentioned only.||Deceased||124,900|
|Kid Nova||A sidekick for an unknown hero. Kid Nova also called Ratchet after the DreadZone Station was destroyed to thank him.||Active||109,380|
|Agent Zero||Mentioned only.||Deceased||107,670|
|The Omega Twins||Teenage girls who were killed by Shellshock.||Deceased||71,200|
Several other heroes appeared in the show but did not rank on the leaderboard. A hero named Mobius Man was set to appear before Ratchet and performed poorly, while one named Gray Thunder was set to appear after. Other contestants are also mentioned or referenced within various Skins' descriptions.
In addition to the heroes, several lawyers from Megacorp were made contestants on DreadZone after they attempted to bring litigation to Vox Industries over the use of patented technology in the Mini Turret Launcher.
Behind the scenes
Cut audio files, DreadZone implemented a new regulation during Ratchet's servitude as a DreadZone gladiator, which set new height requirements to all DreadZone gladiators. Because of this new regulation, Nano Man was required to be executed because of his small stature. Cut audio also reveals that the Marauder Tournament was classed as a proper tournament, and took place further into the game.
- Despite the popularity of DreadZone, the show and the practice of kidnapping heroes was still only referred to by Sasha Phyronix and Captain Qwark as a rumor. After both Ace Hardlight and Starshield's disappearance, their whereabouts were still not well-known despite appearing on such a popular holovision show.
- Ace Hardlight being five-time grand champion suggests he was champion on five seasons. Dallas apologized for subjecting Juanita to his behavior for six years, though it is unknown for how many of them DreadZone was operating.
- And Glamour Stars depending on the chosen difficulty level.
- Starshield was lured to DreadZone by a false distress signal to the sector after one of his adventures. The same method was later used on Ratchet.
- Deadlocked, game manual (NTSC), p. 12
- Off 2005, p. 7
- Deadlocked menu § "Dallas"
- Off 2005, p. 9
- Deadlocked script § "Tutorial (gameplay)"
- Deadlocked script § "Not Captain Starshield!"
- Deadlocked script § "Death of a Salesman"
- Deadlocked script § "News Break"
- Insomniac Games official website 2005
- Deadlocked, game manual (NTSC), p. 6
- Deadlocked script § "Destroy the Central Core (gameplay)"
- Deadlocked script § "Time to Blow $!% Up!"
- Deadlocked script § "Leave No Man Behind (gameplay)"
- Deadlocked script § "Showdown in Delta Block (gameplay)"
- Deadlocked script § "Ace Toys Suck"
- Deadlocked script § "Salutations"
- Deadlocked script § "DreadZone Station 6"
- Deadlocked script § "Sneaky Lombax"
- Into the Nexus, Intergalactic Museum of History
- Deadlocked script § "Vox has a Hissy"
- Deadlocked script § "Eviscerator Battle (gameplay)"
- Off 2005, p. 8
- Deadlocked script § "Under where?"
- Off 2005, p. 7
- Deadlocked script § "Shellshock and the Twins"
- The Adventures of Captain Starshield
- Insomniac Games October 21 2005
- Deadlocked, Extras § "Skins"
- Deadlocked menu § "Mini Turret Launcher"
- Insomniac Games (October 21, 2005). Action News Update - News Update. Insomniac Games. Archived from the original on November 8, 2019.
- Insomniac Games (October 28, 2005). Sports Update - News Update. Insomniac Games. Archived from the original on November 8, 2019.
- Insomniac Games (2005). Ratchet: Deadlocked. PlayStation 2. Sony Interactive Entertainment.
- Greg Off (November 2005). Ratchet Deadlocked Prima Official Game Guide. Prima Games. ISBN 0761552049.