Ruff Trigger: Vanocore Conspiracy Review / Preview for PlayStation 2 (PS2)

Ruff Trigger: Vanocore Conspiracy Review / Preview for PlayStation 2 (PS2)

Ruff Trigger might look like it belongs in the Sly Cooper & Jak & Daxter club, but appearances can be deceiving. by Cole Smith

July 28, 2006 – Ruff Trigger: The Vanocore Conspiracy is a budget platformer, but even with the low price, it’s difficult to imagine being in a situation where you are forced to make a decision between this game and a good game. (Read between the lines on that last sentence and you may not have to read through the rest of this review). You can always rent a handful of good games for the purchase price of one budget title. So, there really is no good reason to even bother with Ruff Trigger unless someone has bought it for you as a present – those lousy %$#@s.

Ruff Trigger isn’t awful but it’s just not a very good game. The platform elements have all been heavily borrowed from classic platformers and while that may sound like a good thing, the gameplay is spoiled by faulty technical issues. It shows promise but that’s what even makes it more frustrating. It’s like going to a buffet with your jaw wired.

Ruff Trigger can best be described as a poor man’s version of Ratchet & Clank. From the gameplay to the art, to the character interaction, Ruff Trigger tries so hard to emulate this classic series but instead falls hard and short of the mark. Even if it were a brilliant game, it would lose marks for being so derivative.

As the star of the game, Ruff Trigger is a cartoonish/humanoid dog character employed as an interstellar bounty hunter. A Vanocore shipload of cutesy, Pokemon-inspired creatures called Piglots has been inadvertently unleashed on a distant and hostile planet while en-route to the marketplace where these creatures were genetically engineered to replace normal domesticated pets. Ruff’s job is to round up the little critters and place them into the various teleports located in the levels. When Ruff saves enough Piglots in each level mini-games will be unlocked. Of course there are enemies, obstacles and pitfalls in your way. The gameplay is an amalgam of combat, puzzle-solving, platforming, collecting and vehicle driving. It’s a good assortment of elements but they don’t all work in harmony.

Ruff Trigger: Vanocore Conspiracy scrennshot

There are plenty of large-ass weapons with names such as giga gun and mega cannon but they all suffer from a wonky lock-on targeting system that drifts too easily. It seems that as you move the weapon, it targets another enemy so that you seldom end up shooting at the enemy that you want to kill. You have to move the gun around and let it take its time to settle back on the intended enemy. This leaves you open to taking a few shots. Speaking of open, Ruff has some martial art combat moves that he uses when he doesn’t have a weapon or runs out of ammo. Running out of ammo is a regular and annoying occurrence. You often have to go back through the level to find ammo that has been respawned. The marital art melee moves may be somewhat effective but they aren’t a very good alternative to weapons since they can take long to charge which leaves you even more open and vulnerable to attack than the drifting targeting system.

In order to acquire weapons, armor and other gadgets, you need to collect money. You can do this by smashing electrical crates and lights where you will find cash inside. It takes quite a bit of money (and time) to get some of these high-powered weapons, only to find that they have such limited ammo. To give you more to work with, Ruff can transform himself into a werewolf which will empower him with monstrous strength. He will have wolverine-like claws and lasers at his disposal to more easily dispose of his enemies. You can even use the Piglots to help you solve puzzles and you can fire them out of a cannon at one of the bosses. Being able to combine these elements makes the gameplay more interesting but it soon becomes repetitious as you encounter the same kind of enemies, puzzles and traps in each level.

Ruff Trigger: Vanocore Conspiracy scrennshot

Cecily is Ruff’s sexy-looking assistant but there are no sparks flying during the dialog. The voiceovers are flat and the writing is forced. It tries to be funny but the humor is very immature, probably created by one of the programmers. Don’t quit your day job, buddy. Graphically the game doesn’t look bad, but the backgrounds are rather sparse. I’ve seen better on the original Playstation. The mini-games offer some motorcycle-style riding in addition to a maze and various other puzzle and skill games. It adds some replay value if want to get more out of this game. More than anything it’s just that the characters don’t have any pizzazz. They are dull and uninspired. At least if we cared about them and what happens to them we might be able to ignore some of the technical issues. But with nothing else to focus on, the problems are as glaring as a three-headed clown in church.


  • Compelling storyline involving dozens of missions and submission
  • 3 large worlds to explore for an average of 20 arcade-style levels of frenetic action
  • 2 playable characters to alternate during the game with different playability features
  • Experience points to gain access to nine devastating weapons payable using the Tykels released from each creature killed during the mission
  • Advanced hand to hand combat system with different attack combinations and damage typologies thanks to power-ups you’ll be able to pick up during the adventure .

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

To top