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The head-up display, more commonly abbreviated as HUD, is a feature that appear in the vast majority of video games. In the Ratchet & Clank series, they provide information on the status of the player: health, ammunition, currency, objectives, a minimap, and other things.
The HUD of Ratchet & Clank games feature three common elements that are disposed in exactly the same layout throughout the games:
- The weapon used, and its ammunition, at the top left of the screen.
- The Nanotech, at the top middle of the screen (except in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One - see below).
- The current amount of bolts collected by the player, at the top right of the screen.
The HUD is shown most of the times during combat, and is usually disabled during exploration sequences. However, it's possible to show the HUD entirely by pressing L3.
The HUD design was however, very different from game to game, each one having its own style.
Ratchet & Clank HUD
The first HUD in the series was very simple, as it featured only the three common elements in the series:
- The weapon used, and its current ammunition (along with the maximum ammo capacity of the weapon), at the top left of the screen. The weapon was identified by a pictogram that shows its ammo crate.
- The Nanotech, at the top center of the screen. As every attack costs one unit of Nanotech, they were shown as Nanotech bubbles. The player starts with four Nanotech units, displayed in a line of four bubbles. He can increase his Nanotech to five units by buying the Premium Nanotech (they are then displayed in two lines: the top line having three bubbles and the bottom line having two), then to eight units by purchasing the Ultra Nanotech (there's two lines of four bubbles).
- The current amount of bolts collected by the player, at the top right of the screen. A rotating bolt is shown next to the count. Depending of the language of the game, there can be a digit grouping with thousand separators. In the first three Ratchet & Clank games, the player can collect up to 2,147,483,647 bolts (which corresponds to the 32-bit signed integer limit, 2^31-1). If the player collects more bolts, there is an overflow and the player get into a negative amount of bolts. If that happens, the player cannot buy anything, as he doesn't have any bolt. Therefore, unless he collects another 2 billion bolts to get into a positive amount, he will not be able to progress in the game (as some NPCs in the game ask you bolts for various gadgets that are mandatory to progress, like the Swingshot or the Thruster-Pack).
The design is quite basic, as every text and indication is inside a half-transparent grey ovals, with straight lines on the top and bottom, and half-circles at the left and right edges. Ammo and bolt count are written in blue, while the contextual features are written in green.
The HUD can also show elements that depends of the context, like an action (talking, pressing a button), an accomplished feat (like finding a weapon, a gold bolt, or getting a skill point) or a countdown.
- The actions and the accomplished feats are shown above the center of the screen. They are shown below the Nanotech and can expand to the sides of the screen depending of the length of the text.
- A countdown is shown at the bottom center of the screen. It's always in the mm:ss:hs (hs are hundredths of second) format. There is three countdowns in the game: one in the Blarg Tactical Research Station (Nebula G34), when the player trigger the self-destruction of the Blargian Warship (45 seconds), one in Drek's Fleet, more precisely in the water part of the Landing Cruiser (1 minute 30 seconds), and one during the final battle against Drek on Veldin, where the player must use the power slam to cancel the firing of the Deplanetizer (25, then 20, then 15 seconds). In every case, if the countdown reaches zero, Ratchet dies and the player must restart from the last checkpoint.
- The Helpdesk messages and the subtitles, during in-game cutscenes, are shown at the bottom center of the screen. There is a subtitle change every time another character speaks. There is no subtitles in precalculated cutscenes.
- The bosses health bars are shown at the bottom center of the screen. They are divided in sections (3 for the Alien Queen, 6 for the Blargian Snagglebeast, 7 for Drek), and the bar goes progressively from green to lime green, yellow, orange and finally to red as their health depletes.
The Quick Select, in the first Ratchet & Clank game, is a simple circle offering 8 slots for weapons and gadgets. At the beginning of the game, the acquired weapons and gadgets are automatically added in the slots clockwise. Then, after, the player can choose his own weapons and gadgets to put in the slots. There is the weapon icon in the square, and in the center of the Quick Select, is shown the name of the weapon, and the ammo count.
Hoverboard race HUD
- At the bottom of the screen, is shown the completed laps (there's always 3 laps to complete) at the left, the timer at the center (in m:ss:hs format), and the current position at the right, from 1st to 6th.
- At the top right, is the current bolt counter, as you can rack up bolts during hoverboard races.
After the player wins the Zoomerator, several new elements add to the HUD.
- Just above the bottom main bar, at the center, is shown the score. Score is stacked up by doing various tricks.
- At the top left and center of the screen, is the boost bar. Boost is earned by doing tricks. If the player does multiple consecutive big tricks, the bar can stay full for several seconds, even while boosting.
- Just next to the boost bar is the trick counter. The trick counter shows the rotation in degrees (can go up to 1800 practically), and the number of different tricks used with L1, L2, R1, and R2 buttons. The rotation and the tricks used define the final trick (if landed correctly) and the number of points, that are shown above the center of the screen after landing.
- Just below the boost bar is the Devastator ammo count. It's only available on the Kalebo III race, where a Devastator is available.
Going Commando HUD
The style of the Hud is changed to have a blue edgy coloring to it. The Weapon and Nanotech elements of the Heads-up display both have a red Nanomite experience bar which expands as Ratchet and his weapons gain Nanomites.