The Hacker is a gadget in Up Your Arsenal used by the Q-Force, which can bypass electronic security defenses and then allow machinery to be operated. It is used on a specific hacker terminal, and starts a minigame in which the player must complete to bypass the door. Unlike the Trespasser and Infiltrator, quick reflexes and timing were required to get past the defenses.
The Hacker was first used by Skidd McMarx during "Infiltrate the underwater hideout" on Aquatos. Skidd insisted on joining Ratchet and Clank for the mission. Though initially ambivalent, Ratchet agreed to allow Skidd to come along once he learned that Skidd had the Hacker. Skidd would frequently use it to open doors and activate bridges, and Ratchet would later return with the same gadget to collect a titanium bolt.
Later, during "Complete VR Gadget Training", Helga von Streissenburgen offered the Hacker along with the Hypershot on a course she had created for the VR deck on the Starship Phoenix. After this, Ratchet used the Hacker again on Daxx, Holostar Studios, and Mylon.
In order to hack through terminals, the player must collect green code snippets using the tractor beam that travels down wires to the core. Red defense programs must also be destroyed using a cannon, as the round will reset if one reaches the outside. Indestructible blue defenses protect objects below them on a wire for a set period of time.
Hacker minigames automatically adjust to reduce their difficulty each time the player fails to complete them. If the player holds in front of a Hacker terminal, they can replay the puzzle at full difficulty.
Behind the scenes
The Hacker was designed and programmed by Mike Stout. It was based on the game Tempest. It was designed by Stout in order to address a development issue he had had with the Electrolyzer puzzles. The Electrolyzer puzzles took hours to develop and were very bug-prone, whereas Hacker puzzles were easily generated and authored by developers. This allowed a Hacker puzzle generator to appear in the Insomniac Museum. The interface was stolen from the Infiltrator authoring interface created by Peter Hastings, which Stout had been envious of as it had also allowed puzzles to be authored easily.
Stout received feedback that the Hacker puzzles were too difficult, even after making a lot of them easier. Many of Stout's superiors requested that he include difficulty tuning, which he was strongly against, believing it would rob the player of a deserved victory. Stout made the change but disliked it, and so included an easter egg in that when crouching on the pad, the player would be able to play the Hacker puzzle at any time at the full difficulty. Though the intention was for this to work while crouching, it is actually tied to the button, meaning that on lock strafe mode, the player must still hold for it to work.
- Insomniac Games (2004). Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. PlayStation 2. Sony Interactive Entertainment.
- Mike Stout, Tony Garcia (May 28, 2012). Ratchet and Clank 3 - Developer Commentary - Ep 13. uselesspodcasts. YouTube.
- Mike Stout, Tony Garcia (August 13, 2012). Ratchet and Clank 3 - Developer Commentary - Ep 23. uselesspodcasts. YouTube.