The Thran Asteroid Belt is a location in the Solana Galaxy featured in Up Your Arsenal. It is notable as the location of Qwark's hideout, where Captain Qwark hid when laying low. The hideout appears to be located on a cold planet inside the belt.
Ratchet and Clank visited the asteroid belt in search of Qwark, after they discovered he had survived following the Leviathan crash. The two discovered that Qwark had used the asteroid belt as a hideout after playing the fifth Qwark vid-comic, The Shaming of the Q.
As documented in The Shaming of the Q, Qwark used a hideout on Thran Asteroid Belt to lay low after he narrowly escaped Dr. Nefarious' torture chamber, and hid for a long period. When Nefarious never resurfaced, Qwark assumed he was gone forever. Qwark at some point placed a vendor hidden within the hideout where he stored his own bogus Gadgetron merchandise; the Personal Hygenator, the Gadgetron PDA, and Megacorp B20 Crotchitizer. To defend his hideout, Qwark ordered lawn ninjas and sentinel bots from Megacorp's catalog, which worked for a low cost, suiting Qwark's lifestyle. He also used Qwark bot replicas of himself for defense.
Later, after Captain Qwark remained behind on Dr. Nefarious' starship, the Leviathan, he used an escape pod to land on Zeldrin safely, and ordered a taxi from the Supernova Taxi service. Qwark's intention was to hide from the war entirely out of fear following a near-death experience.
In "Find Captain Qwark", Ratchet, Clank, and Skrunch visited the Thran Asteroid belt, after they learned of its existence in The Shaming of the Q and found his escape pod on Zeldrin. The two found and purchased the Gadgetron PDA, and also fought through Qwark's defenses to reach his hideout. A forcefield blocked the entrance to Qwark's room, requiring Clank to unlock the forcefield. Ratchet and Skrunch berated Qwark for his cowardice, while Clank appealed to him and encouraged him to become the hero he had wanted to be.
The area in which Qwark's hideout is located is covered in heavy snowfall, with numerous packets of thick snow dotted here and there, as well as several paths that have been covered in a layer of ice. There are many giant crystalline stalagmite formations across the lake in the center of the hideout, and a lot of which near the landing pad that have grown into strange mushroom-shaped structures. There is little flora, with large leaf-less trees with long protruding spikes being the largest seen.
Qwark's hideout is a large, yellow tower on an island in the aforementioned lake, with a front entrance to Qwark's room that leads out to a linear route directly to the landing pad. The area is heavily guarded by Qwark bots and lawn ninjas. It has a few large antenna on-top, resembling the antenna on Qwark's outfit.
The Star Explorer lands on a landing pad on an island close to Qwark's hideout, as well as a set of steps behind it leading to the Gadgetron PDA vendor.
Gadgetron PDA path
The path to the Gadgetron PDA is a set of grav-ramps and tunnels throughout a vast partially flooded cavern, located on the island where the Star Explorer lands. The cavern is reached through a tunnel located behind a set of steps and cave walls. This leads to the first of many winding grav-ramps, and tunnels guarded by Qwark's defenses, including laser turrets and electricity barriers. Eventually, this culminates in a grav-ramp through one final tunnel leading to Qwark's bogus merchandise vendor.
The end is a small room within a cave, with a teleporter back to the Star Explorer landing pad, and one vendor. In it, Qwark sold a B20 Crotchitizer, the Personal Hygenator, and most notably, the Gadgetron PDA, although only the latter could be bought.
Path to Qwark's hideout
The path to the entrance to Qwark's hideout is set between stone walls that stretches across caverns, small islands, and through a few buildings. It is a heavily guarded path, with several cameras across it that follow intruders as well as laser turret defenses. Several small yellow huts with green antennae at the top are located along the path, from which Qwark bots warp in. The start of the path is guarded by forcefields and other defenses that cannot be traversed without the use of a Warp Pad.
Past the initial blockades the route carries on to a linear path across the first island, culminating in a balcony at the end with a zipline down to the second island. This island is much smaller, with an ice floor, and a ladder used to reach the top of a ledge. Past it is a versa-target across to another island, which contains two tall adjacent structures on either side, with the Snow Dan located on-top the right one. In between the structures is a gate, past which is a short lake of ice water, and past this is a gap across to another island.
The final island contains a large structure leading to the entrance to Qwark's hideout. The structure is entered through the gate behind a small patch of ice. It contains several rooms warping in Qwark bots, as well as an entrance to Qwark's room in his hideout, blocked by a forcefield. Qwark's room is a circular bedroom, with a blue ceiling, and a round mat on the floor containing Qwark's logo. To the right of his room is a crack in the wall, leading to underground caverns.
The underground caverns comprise hallways between round rooms located underneath Qwark's hideout. They are entered through a crack in the wall near Qwark's hideout. The caverns are also filled with pools of water, as well as stalactites that fall from the ceiling creating paths across the pools. Like the rest of Qwark's hideout, the caverns are well-guarded, protected by lawn ninjas, lasers, forcefields, sentinel bots, and are also scanned by cameras.
Behind the scenes
The Qwark's hideout level was designed by Mike Stout, and was chosen to be a snow level as it was a requirement that every game in the Ratchet & Clank series include a snow level. The level was programmed by Andy Klinzing. It had to be altered slightly as the Warp Pad had to be restricted from its original design, which would allow Ratchet to throw a disc anywhere and teleport to it, due to several bugs that were caused related to potentially breaking level geometry, that the developers could not fix in time. One Warp Pad puzzle would have appeared at the very start of the level, but was replaced with a platform across a pool of ice. Stout also programmed the Clank segment, and Ken Strickland programmed portions including the lasers.
For the enemies, Stout was able to design enemies unique to the level. His idea was that Qwark would defend his base with copies of himself to reflected his self-centered nature, and would also order a large amount of items from an intergalactic weapons company, leading to the inclusion of the Qwark bots as well as the lawn ninjas. The lawn ninjas were previously mentioned as a joke in Going Commando, which Stout had loved so much that he wanted to bring them back. For the Qwark bots, programmer Andy Klinzing included an upper-skeleton crawl after the bots sustain significant damage inspired by The Terminator. Klinzing came up with the idea entirely on his own, and asked character artists and animators to implement it without Stout knowing. Stout loved the idea and found it hilarious, and so was happy to include it.
Prior to beginning "Unlock the Forcefield", a cutscene would have appeared in which Ratchet would speak to Qwark outside of the forcefield. As the level was developed late, there was not enough animation resources to make this cutscene. This meant, instead, Klinzing had to create a cutscene out of code that pans the camera towards the crack in the wall just so the player knows where to go next.
- Up Your Arsenal script § "Who's Butt is This?"
- Stout, Garcia September 2012 3:30
- Off 2004 p. 142
- Up Your Arsenal script § "Explore the Crash Site (gameplay)"
- Up Your Arsenal script § "Supernova Taxi"
- Up Your Arsenal script § "Find Captain Qwark (gameplay)"
- Stout, Garcia September 2012 0:44
- Stout, Garcia September 2012 2:22
- Stout, Garcia September 2012 4:34
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- Insomniac Games (2004). Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. PlayStation 2. Sony Interactive Entertainment.
- Greg Off (November 2004). Ratchet & Clank Up Your Arsenal Official Strategy Guide. BradyGames. ISBN 0744005000.
- Mike Stout, Tony Garcia (September 24, 2012). Ratchet and Clank 3 - Developer Commentary - Ep 29. uselesspodcasts. YouTube.