Qwark vid-comics are video games themed around Captain Qwark in Up Your Arsenal. They are minigames that Ratchet and Clank play on a VG-9000 game system, which reveal more about Captain Qwark's and Dr. Nefarious' past.
Qwark vid-comics have introductory and ending cutscenes that inform Ratchet and Clank's decisions throughout the story. However, it is suggested frequently by the narrator that they are inaccurate, and the stories are based on eyewitness accounts, bathroom gossip, wild speculation, and a Magic 8-Ball. Despite this, Al believed them to be entirely accurate. Several vid-comics in the series were published, with only four of those being playable, and a fifth that was found in Qwark's quarters.
The minigames are 2.5D sidescrollers in which the player controls Qwark himself in one of five different worlds. The vid-comics also provide platforming challenges, as Qwark must jump across the obstacles and platforms to reach the end goal. Each vid-comic has one or two types of enemies encountered, which Qwark can either defeat with his fists in a melee attack, or fire one of the weapons that drop in that specific vid-comic. Each vid-comic has one or two types of enemies encountered. Two of the vid-comics, Issue 1: Booty is in the Eye of the Beholder and Issue 4: Deja Q All Over Again, feature a boss battle at the end, which must be defeated before the end goal can be reached.
A timer appears at the top of the screen recording how long the player has spent in the level; beating the level in a certain time will award a skill point. If Qwark dies in the level, he will be reset to the nearest checkpoint which, unless the checkpoint is the start of the level, will not reset the timer.
There are 100 tokens Qwark can collect, including blue tokens worth one, and red tokens worth ten. Collecting all tokens will earn a titanium bolt, and the tokens determine the number of bolts awarded to Ratchet at the end. The first time a vid-comic is beaten the bolt reward is multiplied by ten, bolt rewards are also dependent on the number of tokens gathered and the time it took to complete the level.
The player can collect a health power-up hidden at some point in the level, which restores Qwark's health to full and adds an additional health bar for any level. This extra health will stay permanently added to Qwark, no matter if an older or new vid-comic is played.
The difficulty of the vid-comics do not change when the player enters challenge mode.
There were five issues in all seen in the series, all of which make up the "Dr. Nefarious" series:
- Issue 1: Booty is in the Eye of the Beholder
- Issue 2: Arriba Amoeba!
- Issue 3: Shadow of the Robot
- Issue 4: Deja Q All Over Again
- Issue 5: The Shaming of the Q
The fifth comic was suppressed by Captain Qwark, who edited the ending of the fourth comic to hide its events.
A cheat is available in each Qwark vid-comic, similar to the Konami Code, which changes Qwark's outfit into a tutu. This cheat is obtained by pressing the following button sequence when Qwark holds a gun: . Al uses this cheat code following the completion of Deja Q All Over Again in a cutscene.
By pressing on the vid-comic selection screen, a code input box appears with two possible codes that can be typed into it. Typing in '
_MEGHAN_' pressing start will allow the player to play the "Pirate vs. Ninja" minigame in the Insomniac Museum, while typing '
YING_TZU' will allow the player to play a "Bombs Away" minigame. These cheat codes can be found on computer screens in the Insomniac Museum itself.
Behind the scenes
The Qwark vid-comics were developed by Ken Strickland and Sean Wissler, though Mike Stout designed the original concepts. Stout's vision was for the vid-comics to be very similar to Mega Man X in 3D but with a videogame. The three underestimated how many resources were involved.
The Qwark vid-comics changed considerably as a result of negative feedback from playtesters. This was because gameplay on a 2D plane was challenging as they predated the Nintendo DS and mobile games, and the original levels were challenging. As such, they were made much less difficult and complex than the original design. In the Insomniac Museum, two unfinished levels, the original version of the first vid-comic named as the Booty is in the Eye of the Beholder - Special Edition, and one unnamed Qwark vid-comic. Elements of both levels can be found in the museum.
There was originally going to be a 6th vid-comic known as "Issue 6: On the Q-Team Room Floor". Additionally, unused dialogue implies Qwark was going to be able to carry four different weapons and quick select between them.
TJ Fixman had desired to write for a Captain Qwark 2D side-scroller prequel as a full game, similar to the vid-comics, but was never able to before he left Insomniac.
- Up Your Arsenal script § "Qwark Comic Introduction"
- Up Your Arsenal script § "Repair the Laser Defense Shield (gameplay)"
- Up Your Arsenal script § "Take Datadisk to Big Al (gameplay)"
- Stout, Garcia April 2012 0:41
- Stout, Garcia April 2012 6:00
- Up Your Arsenal, Insomniac Museum § Vid-comic 1: Special Edition
- Up Your Arsenal, Insomniac Museum § Unnamed vid-comic
- Up Your Arsenal, May 26, 2004 build on The Cutting Room Floor
- Up Your Arsenal unused dialogue § "Up Your Arsenal Beta Trial Code"
- Fixman 2018
- Insomniac Games (2004). Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal [Game]. PlayStation 2.
- Fixman, TJ [@TJFixman] (2018). 2) A Qwark prequel - I wanted a Qwark-only side-scrolling game that showed how he came to don the spandex. [Tweet]. Twitter.
- Stout, Mike; Garcia, Tony [uselesspodcasts] (2012). Ratchet and Clank 3 - Developer Commentary - Episode 5 [Video]. YouTube.