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Notak is a planet in the Bogon Galaxy featured in Going Commando. It is a dark, water world home to Canal City, a city built on water which prominently features canals and boat travel. Other notable areas in the city include a shopping district in the promenade, a wharf, and a large Megacorp chemical factory out to sea.

Ratchet and Clank visited Notak while trailing Angela Cross, who had visited the world to pick up chemicals. While she left as soon as they arrived, they were able to find more clues to her whereabouts in the chemical factory, while fighting through her hired Thugs-4-Less security.

History

Angela Cross visited Notak in search of chemicals. Unaware of the Thugs-4-Less' picnic in the Feltzin System, a company bonding exercise, she furiously contacted the Thug Leader and threatened to cancel the contract if his men did not meet her at Notak.[1] Ratchet and Clank intercepted the transmission, and traveled to Notak to catch up with her. On the way to Notak, they also saw a broadcast of Behind the Hero, featuring updates on Qwark.

Unknown Thief leaving Canal City

The Unknown Thief leaving Canal City

As soon as they landed, they saw her leave in her ship. Though they had been too late, they searched the city to find her next destination. In "Search Canal City for thief", Ratchet and Clank explored the city, and investigated the wharf area to find her. They eventually found a telescreen ad for Slim Cognito's Ship Shack with coordinates to it. Ratchet considered taking a detour to visit Slim's, but after a disapproving look from Clank, instead suggested visiting the chemical factory instead, believing it may hold clues.[2]

Worker bots with Ratchet and Clank

Clank speaking with the worker bots

At some point, Angela sent another transmission back to the chemical factory requesting more chemicals to be delivered, after the Protopet destroyed many of the ones she had only just picked up.[3] When Ratchet and Clank explored the factory, they came across a group of worker bots who had seen the transmission. The worker bots charged 6,000 bolts to view it, and Ratchet and Clank gained coordinates to Siberius, where Angela had taken the Protopet to her frozen base.

In "Explore the Promenade", Ratchet and Clank searched Canal City's promenade for useful items near the shopping district.[4] Though they found no items, they acquired a nanotech boost.

Years later, Nefarious had a framed photo of Canal City in his office when talking to Clank.

Geography

Overview

Canal City map

Map layout of Canal City

Canal City, as its name implies, is built on top of water, with canals in between the many large buildings and streets. Tall and brightly lit skyscrapers comprise much of the city, while waterboat and skyway traffic is seen throughout. The platforms on which the city's buildings and streets are situated appear to be entirely artificial, as all platforms are made of metal, with no natural islands, and little sign of organic life aside from some grass and trees planted alongside some of the streets. A promenade area in the inner city features many stores with mannequins seen from glass windows, and a wharf area appears near a large suspension bridge connected to a Megacorp factory found out in the ocean.

Canal City 1

Canal City

The buildings consist mostly of large skyscrapers, many of which are connected by bridges, both found in the inner downtown area and out in the distance connected by docks. They are brightly lit, both by lights from the windows atop large buildings, street lamps on the platforms below, and many other light sources. Several signs are also found throughout the city, written in binary.[a]

Ratchet's ship lands on a balcony on the side of a building, with an elevator shaft leading down a slope to a long street below, with a canal opposite it.

Promenade

Canal City 2

The path to the Promenade

The promenade is visited in "Explore the Promenade", and entered through a tunnel on the left end of the first street. The tunnel has a spherical holographic sign above it with text written in binary, and leads to a store room with four mannequins behind glass ceilings in the walls, a glass floor in the center, and another tunnel out to a street.

Canal City 6

The large planet statue

The next area is virtually dominated by the presence of an immense floating globe in the center, with several smaller 'moons' and rings surrounding it. The floating apparatus hovers atop a pillar in the center of a canal, which in itself is surrounded by a paved road. On the west end stands a large wall, with four statues holding aloft another large globe each. The statues and the planet are all entirely destructible, and destroying the statues will cause the sphere they hold to roll and fall into the canal. A bridge is used to cross the canal on the east end, while the street itself loops around the canal on the west side. Behind the planet on the other side of the area is a small pool of water with three fountains taking turns to pour water into it (all three of which are entirely destructible). An elevator shaft on the left side of the east end of the street leads up to a higher up road.

Canal City 3

A store with Thugs-4-Less Henchmen hiding in the windows

The street on the upper floor has two stores along it with empty glass windows (though when Ratchet arrives, three Thugs-4-Less Henchmen fill the windows), and in between them is a patch of grass and a blue Megacorp sign above it. A bridge is used to cross the gap to the other side of the canal, which has a larger store with a holographic logo and text written in binary above a glass retracting door entrance, a blue Megacorp logo, a tower to the right of it with rings that makes a high pitched sound, and a few globes on the edge of the street. Another bridge to the left of the first crosses back over to the other side, with a single large store with another holographic logo above glass store windows, while an elevator shaft on the same end leads up to another higher up street behind a canal lock.

The upper street has a display case with three tubular windows on the right (empty when Ratchet arrives), with the left leads to a bridge across to a street with another store, at the end of which is an elevator shaft. This leads upwards to a small area near the top of the city behind a canal lock at the end of this canal, with large plants grown on the grass around the sides, and a teleporter in the middle that returns to where the ship lands.

Wharf area

Canal City 7

The wharf area

The wharf area is visited in the concurrent missions "Search Canal City for thief" and "Investigate wharf area", and is reached by crossing a suspension bridge just ahead of the the elevator shaft from the landing pad. Crossing the bridge will lead to a short street with medium-sized houses on either side, of which the one on the left has a garden behind it with a platinum bolt. Near the end of the street, the right area has a large dock area out to sea, the path ahead has a small tunnel to another street (blocked by a forcefield when Ratchet arrived), while the left side has an open entrance to a building.

The building has one small room at the entrance, followed by a larger room with a long water pool and rows of large pumps on either side, and a ledge at the end to a higher up exit, which can only be reached by freezing the water with the Thermanator. Climbing the ledge leads to a tunnel and a small room, and then an exit out onto a pier near large pumping stations out to sea. This begins with a large pier, followed by a narrow pier with a slope midway along leading to a higher pier on the right. The higher pier has explosive barrels, a Dynamo activator on the right end, and a slope to another higher pier on the left end, which itself extends slightly to the right with a gap back onto a large pier connected to the city just across.

This area contains a few buildings, and a large door with explosive barrels in front of it, leading into a building containing a platinum bolt. An elevator shaft on the left leads to the roof of another tall building, and the roof of another building can be reached by jumping across. The telescreen advert for Slim Cognito's Ship Shack is found here on a small platform at the end of the roof. Gliding down from the roof leads to a small pier just behind a street, with the right end of this street containing a tunnel leading back to the first street in the start of the wharf area, and the left end leading to a large suspension bridge across to the Megacorp chemical factory.

Chemical factory

Canal City 4

The chemical factory

The chemical factory is an immense factory out to sea built on rocks, connected to the city by a long suspension bridge, and is visited in the mission "Search Canal City for thief". In front of the door entrance, above which is a huge Megacorp logo, at the end of the bridge is a bolt crank that must be turned to enter. Inside is a small step down to a path bending right to a jump slot used to reach a higher up ledge. Wall-jumping up through the jump slot to reach the higher ledge leads into the main room, with a view of the vast water pools in the central area. This begins with several walkable areas around the main water pools, though few are within reach upon entering aside from a lower area to the left adjacent to a water pool. Freezing the water pool allows Ratchet to skate across to a ledge to the right, allowing him to jump up to the top of an area, with a bolt crank on that activates a narrow bridge across to a higher up area to the left of the entrance that is otherwise out of reach.

Canal City 5

The interior of the chemical factory

On top of this is a cylindrical water pool (initially frozen) with a tunnel leading right to another pool, placed in between a fence that cuts off the two main water pools. In the middle of the second water pool is a small island with a bolt crank on that activates a bridge across the two floors on either side behind the fence. A tunnel in the wall at the back leads to a small room with two floors, one on a lower up area and one reached through wall jumping up a jump slot to reach the ledge at the top (only possible when the water is frozen). At the top of this are a few steps leading back into the main room on a higher up area, with the bridge leading to an area on the left. Jumping up here will reveal a cylindrical pool of water, with the water raising and then descending. Behind this pool is another pool that raises and descends, connected by a tunnel to a pool in a room adjacent, with sharkigators in both pools.

The pool behind has steps leading up to the top of the pool that nears the main water basin, though the top of the pool on the opposite end near the wall has steps leading up right to a final pool that descends and ascends. It has a tunnel leading to another basin behind it, with a ledge that can only be reached if the pool of water is frozen at exactly the right height. Jumping up the ledge leads to a small room with a large screen and several computer terminals, where factory worker bots are found, as well as a balcony outside with a taxi that returns to the ship.

Behind the scenes

Notak was one of the first planets that Insomniac Games developed for Going Commando, and the first planet ever programmed by then-junior programmer Tony Garcia.[5] This meant that the Thugs-4-Less Henchmen became the first enemies he ever programmed. Garcia was given few instructions when programming his first level: he was simply given a basic prototype as a layout with only meshes and had to work from there.[5]

The level had to be scaled back in ways from the original design. Robot pedestrians would have appeared in the level walking across blue ventways, and energy doors would appear for the pedestrians to walk through, and close behind them as they left. Designer Mike Stout programmed them, but they had to be removed due to time constraints.[6] Notak was also intended to use different swarmers other than the Chickenbots: instead, six-legged small aliens had been designed as the swarmer enemies fought alongside the Thugs. However, Garcia could not get them to behave properly, due to his struggles with programming swarmers, leading to the Chickenbots being reused.[7]

Colin Munson designed the "Explore the Promenade" section and, sharing Garcia's desire to not have enemies idling, came up with the idea of them posing as mannequins before they engage Ratchet.[8] The mission was originally going to lead to a gadget, namely a modification for the Hydro-Pack called the Gunsled. This would have attached two torpedo launchers next to the Hydro-Pack to fight underwater. The gadget was cut as there was no use for it, and the reward at the end was replaced with a basic nanotech boost.[9]

At the beginning of the level, the elevator takes Ratchet down diagonally forward. This was done because the camera would not allow Ratchet to go straight down while looking forward.[10]

Craig Goodman, who designed the art for the level, came up with the idea of binary text throughout the level, and left binary in the level that would spell out a message in ASCII.[11] Binary was used as Insomniac could not have English text in the game, since it would make it more complicated to localize for different languages.[12] One of the signs in the promenade shows the binary code for "Dan", a reference to Dan Johnson.

The chemical factory in early builds of the game was much more difficult to complete, as the ice could freeze anywhere instead of snapping into certain spots. In the final release, the ice snaps at certain points into a position that makes it easier for Ratchet to progress.[13]

A forcefield was added before the player visits the chemical factory to stop them returning to their ship, preventing them from getting lost.[14]

Notes

Annotations

  1. It is possible that the main population of the planet are robots that communicate in binary. The only inhabitants of the planet found are robots that communicate in a computerized language only intelligible to Clank, all text is in binary, and all the mannequins on which clothes are displayed in store windows are designed based on robots.

Citations

References

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