Ratchet and Clank: A Retrospective Ramble

(This blog post is not a review of Ratchet and Clank for PS4. Unfortunately, I do not own a PS4… yet!)

On what was probably my seventh birthday, I was joyfully tearing into the presents in front of me, likely anticipating some PS2 game or another that had been on my radar for the past year. It was within one of these presents that the first Ratchet and Clank game resided, and to this day I still remember how I felt when I opened it.

“Oh… uh… thanks. This looks… cool.”

I’d never seen the game before in my life, and therefore didn’t hold much hope for it in secret. And of course, I was very wrong. The day I popped that disc into the PS2 marked the beginning of a long and satisfying relationship with the franchise from Insomniac, who ever so recently released a re-imagining of that very first game onto PS4.

The reviews have been excellent, earning mostly 9/10 ratings across the board and even succeeding that on certain occasions. It’s a very heartwarming feeling to see a franchise you’ve loved for so many years return to the spotlight, as even though there were some fantastic PS3 titles, none of them ever received quite the same attention as their PS2 predecessors, for whatever reason.

Ratchet and Clank 2 was my favourite game in the series, as it introduced the ability to upgrade all of your weapons once (and a subsequent two times in your second runthrough of the game). However, Ratchet and Clank 3 was objectively better, with more incremental upgrades and better level design. Ratchet: Gladiator (or Ratchet: Deadlocked as it’s known in the US) was a stray away from the norm, with more emphasis on the shooter side of the game and less on the platforming. When I was younger, I remember not liking this type of gameplay as much, but as I got older this quickly fell into line alongside my favourite Ratchet and Clank games in the series. This was also the last Ratchet and Clank title for the PS2, and the last one I’d play for years.

One of my vivid memories outside of the actual game regarding Ratchet and Clank was reading a pre-release review of the third game in a gaming magazine during a long car trip. The review showed some screenshots of the second level of the game, and I remember getting very, very excited. However, when I actually got my hands on the game myself, I couldn’t get past the last level. As somebody who had played the previous games many times over, this was a point of embarrassment for me, and it wasn’t until sometime after Gladiator released that I went back and finished it.

I didn’t own a PS3 until 2013. Having arrived late to the game (so to speak), many of the next-gen Ratchet and Clank titles had already been released, and indeed I bought the first 3 as soon as possible. To this day, I’ve still not beaten Tools of Destruction or even played Quest for Booty, though! This is partially due to the fact that those two games didn’t have achievements, and I’d already been sucked into collecting them at this point. It was also, however, due to the fact that A Crack in Time was almost on par with Ratchet and Clank 2 for my favourite in the entire series. I plan on replaying this sometime very soon, and look forward to having a great time doing so.

So what of the next 3 titles? Insomniac tried something different with All-4-One and Q-Force, trying out party-platforming and MOBA gameplay with the two games. I did try out Q-Force, but it didn’t quite stick with me the way previous titles had. Nexus, however, was a return to form, and remains to this day one of the only games I’ve ever pre-ordered. I cannot comment on it here, however, as I’ve only played the first level and a half or so before being distracted by PC gaming, for I’d sort of accidentally switched over to PC as my main gaming platform by that point. Worry not, Nexus, you’ve not been abandoned. I’ll return to you someday. I promise…

They also released HD remasters of the PS2 titles for PS3. I’ve played a fair amount of each (having 100% completed Ratchet and Clank 2), and unfortunately have to report that they are riddled with bugs. It doesn’t exactly detract from the overall enjoyment of the games, but it’s definitely an annoyance that one could live without. It’s also amusing to note that I’d 100% completed Ratchet and Clank 3 on PS2 sometime before the HD remasters were released, having decided to fully dominate this title which had caused me such trouble over a decade before.

So… there we have it. I’m aware that there wasn’t really any coherent line of thought in this blog post, and for that I apologise, but I’m currently knee-deep in dissertation… and I just had to say something about my love for the born-again franchise of my childhood. It’s great to see people experience this game again for the first time, and I’m curious to see how the movie will be.

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