Thousands of years ago in the far-off past of 2002 (by gaming standards) , there was a more cheerful and optimistic age. Military shooters, while popular, weren’t yet a dominant force. No, the money was in colourful platforming games, a genre which eventually collapsed under its own weight. And one of the few survivors from that era, was a certain mechanic and his plucky robot sidekick.
But have the years been kind to them?
The first game in the collection sets up the partnership between our two heroes, as they attempt to save the galaxy from Chairman Drek and the Blark race, who intend to cherry-pick the finest continents from various planets in the cosmos, in order to make their own paradise.
The second game, Locked and Loaded, reunites the Ratchet and Clank for an adventure that has them racing against time to stop yet another corporation, from distributing a monstrous creature with strange reproduction quirks, while game three, Up your arsenal, refines the experience for one all or nothing battle against the genocidal Dr Nefarious.
Developed by Insomniac Games, the lads behind the Resistance trilogy and the upcoming Overstrike, Ratchet and Clank is an example of thinking ahead when designing a game. True, all the signature early 2000s platform game ideas are there, from lovable characters, sidekicks and weird worlds, through to strange new weapons, tons of currency and mountains of disposable foes.
But it’s the idea that Ratchet and Clank could be more than a just a run of the mill platforming game, that made it special. You’ve got ideas such as FPS, vehicle joy-rides and some light RPG elements slowly infiltrating into the trilogy, ideas which still hold up well today, a decade later.
But at its core, R&C is still a platforming game, and a very well polished one at that. By taking these three games and slamming them together, players also get to experience a galaxy with an overarching story that was too big to be contained within one game, all told through one dizzying nostalgic narrative featuring bumbling heroes and doctors with a fondness for nefarious deeds.
There was a galaxy to save, one oversized wrench wallop at a time while jumping ahead on challenging obstacles.
And of course, who could forget those mental weapons of insane destruction. Watching Ratchet run around burning all the things with a giddy smile that is normally reserved for Team Fortress pyros still hits the right buttons, while the rest of the arsenal perfectly complements the gadgets you’ll pick up along the way.
As for the port itself, has Idol Minds done a decent job? Actually, yes, yes they have.
Sure, it may be missing the super-duper reality 2.0 texture shaders from the games of today, but as a full HD experience running on the chosen anamorphic screen size of the gods, Sony chapter 16 verse 9, it doesn’t disappoint.
It’s a colourful experience that made the most of the technology available at the time, square circles and all that, and each subsequent game in the trilogy looks that little bit better, while it runs at a constantly smooth 60 frames per second. The pre-rendered cut scenes could have done with some more polishing however, as the fuzzy edges can distract, but toss in some 3D support on the side, and it’s a commendable job overall.
Multiplayer has also received a boost in the form of some PSN functionality, so prepare to obliterate friends and foes alike, while collecting trophies. Other than that, the only real criticism is that the collection is rather sparse on extras. No extra videos, timelines, documentaries or retrospectives, nothing of the sort.
It’s a take it or leave it approach with the three games on offer, but considering how the quality in each one escalates in chronological order, it’s still a really good deal overall. Running, jumping, walloping and shooting may get tedious after a while, but that’s the downside to shoving three games into one package.
Ten years on, and Ratchet and Clank is still an easy to learn game with some polished features and ideas. Of course some of those ideas only came to fruition by the third game, so while the first title might have its share of platforming nuisances in the controls department, by the time the second sequel rolled around, it was pure bliss to control the two partners in galaxy-saving.
Design and Presentation: 7/10
Time, while not exactly merciless on the games, has taken it’s fair toll on the trilogy. But it doesn’t matter actually. When you’ve got a crisp collection that runs smoothly and plays with crisp responses later in the epic journey of the infamous duo, you’ve got a situation where looks come a distant second.
Still, an extra touch here and there could have really spruced things up, but overall, a decent compromise for the widescreen experience.
Platforming may not be a genre that is as popular as it once was, now being relegated to cheap kids games and horrible movie tie-ins, but this collection of the three original Ratchet and Clank games is a fine example of the genre done right. It may be a niche love now, but it’s a pretty awesome one at that, if jumping, bashing and collecting coin appeals to you.
The bare bones presentation does disappoint, but only slightly, as all three games will need quite a few hours to clock, with some decent multiplayer rounding out the package.
The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy is a nostalgic blast, a series of games that has aged well, and that gets better the further you go into it. It may not appeal to everyone, but for those of us who grew up on these games, or for those parents out there who want some good clean fun for their kiddies that doesn’t revolve around war, realistically drab textures and copious amounts of blood, this is one worthwhile set of games to invest in, as it’ll still be playable in another ten years.[Reviewed on PS3, played on normal difficulty]
Last Updated: July 9, 2012