- "There is no need for introductions because everyone knows I am the undefeated, grand champion and greatest DreadZone exterminator in the universe."
- ―Ace Hardlight[src]
Ace Hardlight, known as inmate number 510D in Zordoom Prison, was a once famous superhero who had mysteriously vanished from the Solana galaxy, never to be seen again. However, reasons lead to suspect that it was at the time of his disappearance that he'd been kidnapped by the Vox Media Empire, to become one of the many contestants on Gleeman Vox's reality show DreadZone.
During his time as a contestant, Ace began to enjoy working for Vox. He moved on to become a fearsome DreadZone gladiator, having eliminated many other contestants as part of his job. Over time he became the five-time grand champion, and the new captain of the Exterminators.
He was later defeated by Ratchet, a short time before the destruction of the DreadZone Station. Ace Hardlight did survive his defeat however and ended up being sent to Zordoom Prison. Ace was later released from prison.
Ace was born into tough times and sent away to an orphanage on the distant planet of Bolden 3. He also had his first birthday at the orphanage. Ace was there for another four years before he was adopted by a group of heroes known as the Sonic 6. They had accidentally blown up a planet while saving a starship, and they wanted to improve their public image.
As Ace grew, he became the biggest, strongest and smartest among the group of superheroes. He went on many successful missions with them and soon they were known as the Sonic 7. Ace Hardlight by now had become a famous intergalactic superhero. For a while he was unbeatable and unstoppable. However another mission went wrong and it resulted in the accidental destruction of Bolden 3. Ace and his team had blown up the same planet that he was from. The orphanage that had taken him in was gone. Ace fell into a deep sadness and disappeared, never to be seen by his team again.
A short time after disappearing from the public eye, Ace came across Gleeman Vox. He then became a contestant on DreadZone, a reality combat blood-sport where heroes were forced to fight for their lives, all in the name of entertainment. Eventually the surviving heroes would be pitted against one another to the death. It is unclear if Ace was captured and forced to complete, or if he willingly volunteered to join as a contestant. Nonetheless, he ended up becoming the most successful competitor at DreadZone.
Becoming an Exterminator
Over time, Ace Hardlight became the top ranked and most feared gladiator in DreadZone, being the grand champion over the next four seasons. He was loyal to Gleeman Vox, carrying out orders and allowing Vox to take advantage of his name and likeliness.
Ace was fierce and merciless, cutting down any hero who dared to stand up against him. He claimed to enjoy killing other heroes for the fun of it, and not just for the fortune. None of the other captured contestants could surpass his ranking at the time. At least until a hero by the name of Captain Starshield was captured and forced to compete.
He beat all of the DreadZone records ever set within a matter of weeks. And he rose to become a higher ranked contestant than Ace was. This angered Hardlight and prompted him find a way to eradicate Captain Starshield from the competition. While Starshield was competing on Catacrom Four, Ace snuck up and shot him coldly in the back with his gun, which killed him instantly. Ace had used an illegal one-shot, instant-kill weapon, known as the Quantum-Demoleculizer. It was a weapon that Vox News anchorwoman Juanita had smuggled in his locker. Ace gave off a sadistic laugh at the death of Captain Starshield. This was his thirteenth hero-kill of the season, which allowed him to become the Captain of the Exterminators.
- "He's a pompous [censored] with the charisma of Blargian Gnat cheese!"
- ―Gleeman Vox explaining the drop in Ace Hardlight merchandise sales.[src]
It is unclear if Ace was a well-respected gladiator before Ratchet was captured. But the lack of sales for the Hardlight merchandise suggests that he had always remained notorious, despite his status of being the five-time grand champion of DreadZone who is scoring the highest number of kills and having the most Dread points at the time.
The arrival of Ratchet, Clank, Big Al and the resulting formation of Team Darkstar led Ace to become even more disliked by viewers. This in effect caused nobody to buy the Ace Hardlight merchandise, which was quick to anger his boss - Gleeman Vox. Many crates of the unsold merchandise piled up around the DreadZone station, even inside Gleeman Vox's quarters. Vox was enraged at the fact that nobody was buying the Hardlight merchandise, which resulted in him throwing fits and yelling obscenities at Ace. Vox threatened to replace him if he wouldn't do anything to try and make his merchandise sell – even pulling Ace’s hair before telling him to get out of his sight.
After Shellshock was destroyed, Ace claimed that Shellshock was too slow and too stupid to be an Exterminator. He disregarded the fact that Ratchet could be a real competitor, believing the lombax was only lucky. Vox didn’t share the same opinion as Ace however. He said that Ratchet reminded him of when Ace was in his heroic youth. Ace was infuriated at the idea of being compared with Ratchet, firmly telling Vox that the Lombax had only gotten lucky.
Conflict with Team Darkstar
- "Ratchet however… ahh, he may just be useful. He’s even more popular than you were back in your heroic youth. Come to think of it, he reminds me of you…"
- ―Gleeman Vox[src]
- "I SAID he got lucky! His luck won’t last forever…"
- ―Ace Hardlight's reaction when Vox compared Ratchet to him[src]
Within a short amount of time, Ratchet had gained a high amount of Dread points. He took down Ace's team of Exterminators one by one and gained immense fan support. Ace was becoming progressively more frustrated at seeing the Lombax succeed.A while before the defeat of The Eviscerator, Vox discovered that Clank and Al had found a way to remove the Deadlock Collars - which was strongly prohibited. Ace was ordered by Vox to wait for the right moment to strike Team Darkstar.
A short time before Ratchet arrives back at the Containment Suite, Al successfully manages to remove Clank’s Deadlock Collar. This prompted Ace to sneak up and shoot the former roboshack owner in the back with his gun, inflicting life-threatening injuries. Ratchet tried to grab a nearby Lancer in retaliation, but Ace was quick to react. He had the remote for the Deadlock Collar - pressing a button to activate the shock function of Ratchet’s collar, thus disabling him on the spot.
Fall and Redemption
- "You’re *cough* dead Ace!"
- "Ohh that’s good, I like that spirit. But save it for the arena, ha ha ha ha!"
- ―Ace ridiculing Ratchet before leaving.[src]
Later when Ratchet had gathered the required Dread points and medals, Ace Hardlight was set to go face to face with Ratchet in the Liberator Tournament. While broadcast live on Vox News, Ace claimed that the fight against the lombax will be messy, and that nobody would even remember who he was.
Juanita Alvaro; being one of the few fans Ace had left, supported him for his violent remarks, telling Ace that the galaxy is rooting for him. He thanked Juanita and appeared to show some feelings towards her.
- "Tonight we bring you DreadZone’s most highly anticipated match-up yet! In one corner the undefeated grand champion Exterminator, a legend in his own time… Ace Hardlight!"
- "And in the other corner, weighing in at err 97.5 pounds uhh most of it probably fluff or fat, Ratchet!"
- "This is it, runt. I almost wish it wasn't going to be over so quickly. Just try to keep it interesting while it lasts, okay? *laughs*"
- ―Ace Hardlight laughing while towering over Ratchet, who growls back at him.[src]
Ratchet ignored his insults and told Ace to stay down and stop embarrassing himself. The Lombax then told Ace that he used to be a hero once – words which caused Ace to have a sudden change of heart.
- "Ratchet! *cough* Don’t let Vox do to you, what he did to me… you’re the real hero now *coughs*"
- ―Ace Hardlight before he falls unconscious after the battle.[src]
Ace had used what seemed to be his last breath to warn Ratchet not to let Vox do to the Lombax, what he had done to him. He also told Ratchet that he was the real hero now. Now defeated, Ace Hardlight seemed to have redeemed himself.
When Ratchet refused Vox's offer to replace Ace as the new Captain of the Exterminators, he used Vox News to slander Ratchet further; by falsely claiming that he had killed Ace in combat. It wasn’t clear if Dallas & Juanita knew if Ace was dead or not, although Juanita was clearly grieving over the loss of Ace Hardlight.Either way the news was propaganda by Vox to try and sell the large amounts of Ace Hardlight merchandise lying around the DreadZone Station. Gleeman Vox expressed his ‘sympathy’ to try and coax fans into purchasing a memorial Ace Hardlight Action Figure for 299 bolts.
Vox News also made up accusations that Ratchet had cheated against Ace and used performance enhancing drugs. This led people to believe that Ace was ‘deceased’, as stated on the Rank-O-Meter in the DreadZone Station. However this was later proved to be false, as Ace had simply been thrown out of DreadZone shortly after his defeat.
- "Inmate number 510D, Hardlight, Ace, please report to the mess hall for kitchen duty."
- ―Zordoom Prison announcer.[src]
While it is unknown what Ace did after being exiled from DreadZone, he was nevertheless, captured by authorities and placed into Zordoom Prison on planet Viceron for his crimes. A few years pass by when Ratchet breaks into Zordoom to free Talwyn, of which happened during the events of Tools of Destruction. Ace Hardlight’s name was heard via a PA announcement, reporting him to kitchen duty in the mess hall.
Release from Prison
- "When we come back, we'll chat with former gladiator and recently released prisoner, Ace Hardlight. Is he truly rehabilitated? Or is it only a matter of time before he's discovered inside the Polaris Galactic Bank... wearing a pair of stockings over his face? We'll find out, right after this..."
- ―Kip Darling commenting on Ace’s recent release from Zordoom Prison.[src]
List of exterminated competitors on DreadZone
- Ace Hardlight Action Figure (later renamed the Ace Hardlight Memorial Action Figure)
- Ace Hardlight Card
- Ace Hardlight Video Game
- Ace Hardlight Lunchbox
- Ace Hardlight Underwear
Ace Hardlight had an athletic and bulky build, with large muscular arms and thin, yet muscular legs. Some of the muscle detail showed through his suit. One of his most notable features was his long blond hair, which was very long from the front while it remained short at the back. His long face was also unique to his species. He had tanned skin with short brown fur, some of which forms a goatee. He had some darker colored spots around his face as well. Ace’s upper canine teeth were also fairly large and noticeable. His eyes were relatively small compared with Ratchet, and he had blue colored irises that were barely noticeable.
He was also fairly tall, with Ratchet reaching a little over half his height.
He wore a skin-tight red-orange colored suit that covered his entire body, save for the face and hair. It was also marked with various blue patterns, and brown legging and gloves. He also has various blue symbols unique to his suit, and black colored padding on his thighs and abdomen.
Ace wore minimal armor, only covering his upper body, wrists and shoulders. He also appeared to have a small jet-pack at the back. He wore a red visor that he sometimes flipped up while speaking.
Ace had two types of armor. His standard armor, and another set of armor worn in his fight against Ratchet in the Liberator Tournament which was a lot bulkier than his standard armor. However his bodysuit remained the same in both sets of armor.
Ace's shoulder guards were blown off or destroyed during the fight against Ratchet.
- "I’m gifted, skillful. I’m brave and fabulously handsome too. This is why I have become the greatest DreadZone Exterminator in the history of the galaxy."
- ―Ace Hardlight talking about his "brilliant career".[src]
While his personality was unclear before he joined DreadZone, Ace was described as being hot headed, cruel, stubborn and somewhat vain. He was also fearless and merciless, appearing to have no sympathy for the other heroes captured and forced to complete at DreadZone. He claimed to enjoy killing the other heroes for the fun of it, even laughing at others after injuring or even killing them. He was also harsh against other contestants, and bullied them in their own Containment Suite's when given the chance.
Overall, he was very aggressive and quick to snap back at others who attempted to provoke him.
Ace also used degrading nicknames for those he didn't respect. Such as calling Clank tin-man, and Ratchet a rodent, runt, furball and furry freak. It was not until he was defeated by Ratchet that he called him by his actual name.
Before his defeat the only people he would show respect towards were Gleeman Vox and Juanita Alvaro, who had an interest in him and had been known to place at least 72 photos of herself all over Ace’s locker, all which had the following text “Call me, I’m desperate”.
Abilities and skills
Ace was revered to as being a skilled and cunning gladiator. He was the five-time undefeated champion and he had destroyed thirteen contestants in one season alone. Although there were rumors that he would sometimes cheat, as noted when he shot Captain Starshield in the back with an illegal instant-kill weapon modification. He also could use a temporary shield where damage could not be inflicted on him until it deactivated, however, The Harbinger can breach it. He used medpacks during the fight against Ratchet. Although he only used them three times.
Ace carried a unique looking gun, although the name of his weapon is unknown. It appeared to be capable of firing different types of ammo, along with the one-shot one-kill Quantum-Demoleculizer. Although at other times it fired standard shots that could not kill Ratchet or Big Al in an instant.
He also threw out a type of grenade that sent out large shockwaves across the floor of the Battledome. Along with that, he releaseg a type of seeker beam from his wrists that tracked down an appointment at a slow pace for a long period of time.
Another unique weapon he possessed was the ability to create hard-light copies of himself. He disappeared for a split second and reappeared with at least seven copies of himself. These looked like Holograms but appeared solid, and all were capable of inflicting damage on an opponent. He could control all of these at the same time, and the clones are capable of inflicting damage with their own blasters. However, they were fairly easy to take down with a few shots. But only Ace’s true self took damage, while his hard-light clones simply disappeared once they become too damaged.
He also appeared to be skilled with fighting hand-to-hand combat, performing various kicks and punches. His action figure also had the function of doing a ‘kung-fu grip’. Even so he never performed these types of moves against Ratchet during the Ace Hardlight Battle.
According to the information on his Exterminator Card, his weakness was frost, while his strength was chemical. However the different weapon mods, such as the Freeze mod and Acid mod, had no noticeable change in damage inflicted on Ace during battle. It is possible these were just created for the Exterminator Cards.
Ace in the Ratchet & Clank Manga
Ace Hardlight is a main character in the non-canon Japanese Ratchet & Clank Manga: Volume 2. He has a large role during the first half of the manga and he is not an enemy to Ratchet and Clank. He is rather an ally, or a rival of some sort.
Ace’s role in the manga revolves around short stories where he would try and help Ratchet become a DreadZone Gladiator, playing DreadZone baseball against Ratchet and Clank, and even going fishing with them and more.Ace’s personality in the manga differs greatly to how he is in canon. He is not aggressive at all, and is rather confident, proud, and helpful. At times he is also insane.
But he also plays by the rules, such as when he refused to go over a speed limit on the DreadZone Hoverbike. And while Ratchet & Clank messed about during their game of baseball, Ace didn't. He also doesn't kill other contestants at DreadZone whatsoever.
He does remain vain like his in-game self though, claiming that Ratchet has to grow hair like himself to become a true DreadZone Gladiator; causing Ratchet to fall over. He is also apparently a bad driver with the Landstalker, causing both Ratchet & Clank to feel motion sickness afterwards.
His appearance is vastly different. He looks almost the same as a human, lacking his large canine teeth and long face. Even his goatee and fur is missing. Overall he lacks most of the detail from his true in-game self. But his hair remains the same, as well as some of his suit and armor. This is the case with other characters featured in the manga, such as Ratchet lacking his tail and other details.
Behind the scenesAce Hardlight is voiced by André Sogliuzzo, the same voice actor who voiced Sparx the Dragonfly in Insomniac’s Spyro the Dragon trilogy for the PSone.
- "Hey Lombax, let’s see how you like being a farm animal!”"
- ―Ace Hardlight in a cut audio file[src]
Early in the game's development, he would throw Flash-bangs in combat to temporarily blind Ratchet. He also used Morph weaponry – possibly the same morph-mod that could be purchased in-game to turn enemies into farm animals. This was evident from some of the cut-audio files found in the game.Other cut audio files show that during his boss battle, he would ‘accidentally’ call for reinforcements, and his shield could be deactivated by Ratchet during game play. Merc and Green were also present during the Battle in this version, while they are absent from the fight in the final version of the game.
Ace’s gun would malfunction during this version of his boss battle as well. This doesn’t happen in the final game, but if you look closely while Ace has his clones out - you’ll notice that the hard-light clones would sometimes start whacking their blasters against their knees to get them working again. In another of the cut-audio files from Ratchet Deadlocked, Dallas claims that Ace Hardlight had beaten a contestant with their own legs.Much earlier during the game’s development, Ace Hardlight could have been made a Lombax. Insomniac developers toyed with the idea of making him one, to get Ratchet to feel personally threatened by him. This was thought of so that players didn’t think of Ace as just another thug who Ratchet had to beat. Probably a way to show players what Ratchet could have become if he ended up going the dark way that Ace Hardlight did at DreadZone.
However this was changed and they made Ace into his own species, yet remained subtle from the original idea in the final game. This could also have been the case to avoid any conflict with games in the future, such as the Future Trilogy's focus on finding the Lombaxes – although TJ Fixman had not joined Insomniac at the time of Deadlocked’s development.
Small amounts of hints between Ace and Ratchet do remain in the final game. Like the fact that Ratchet remembers Ace as a hero while Ratchet himself was a kid. And that they both share a similar back-story with being orphaned, and growing up to become famous superheroes early in their lives. And eventually, be captured by Gleeman Vox for DreadZone.
- In Tools of Destruction, you can hear Ace summoned over the Loudspeaker in Zordoom prison.
- In Going Mobile, there were many Ace posters in the Battle Arena.
- In Tools of Destruction, while viewing any armor before purchasing, the Armor vendor Grummel will mention that Ace Hardlight once wore the very same armor.
- In Quest for Booty, a group of Hoolefoids were having a conversation; with one of them saying "When's that poor excuse for a mayor gonna do something about this vandal. He took my VG-9000 game system, my Ace Hardlight Action Figure, even my Courtney Gears holiday album..."
- The Silencer got its name after Ace used it to "settle" a dispute with his former agent during his DreadZone years.
- All the mentions about Ace in the Future series would imply that he was well known to the people of Polaris, implying that DreadZone may have showed on Holovision in the Polaris Galaxy in the past when it was still live.
- In the Ratchet Deadlocked Demo, Ace Hardlight once claimed the B6-Obliterator's ability to remove a person's entire abdomen was "breathtaking"
- Ratchet: Deadlocked (first appearance)
- Ratchet & Clank: Going Mobile (poster only)
- Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (mentioned only)
- Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty (mentioned only)
- Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (mentioned only)
- Ratchet & Clank: Issue 3: Lost and Spaced (mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ratchet: Deadlocked Prima eGuide - Characters - Ace Hardlight
- ↑ File:Vox News Update 6.jpg
- ↑ http://ratchet.wikia.com/wiki/File:Ace_in_Manga_hoverbike.jpg
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpCmagfZVGk
- ↑ http://ratchet.wikia.com/wiki/File:Ace%27s_development_by_Greg.png
- ↑ Ratchet Deadlocked Demo