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As most of you may or may not know, the foundation of my video game career began with legendary platformers like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro The Dragon and Ratchet & Clank. These are the games I had spent hours pouring into, collecting Wumpa fruit or carefully jumping from platform to platform. They are the epitome of what made me into a gamer as a child, and today still stand as some of my favorite games as an adult. But the reboot of Ratchet & Clank took that nostalgia I held so dearly and magnified it into the platformer I have been searching for in the last few years of game releases.
Ratchet & Clank is the game we all remember, but it has also transformed into a platformer that can hold its own among today’s pretty games. While I was used to playing the older platformers with sub-par graphics and not even wincing, the reboot of Ratchet & Clank has constructed the environments and levels we know and love, and turned them into a dream. The attention-to-detail is there, with refined shapes and figures and characteristics we might not have noticed before. And even though we may all remember some of these levels from the original game, they feel more substantial in the reboot, and feel reworked in the best way, with new planets and new sections added to some of the originals. The design was so well done that I felt like I was playing through a movie rather than a game. But I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Insomniac Games. If there’s anyone who can put out an unforgettable and wholly beautiful platformer, it’s them.
In Ratchet & Clank, the two heroes must work together with the pompous and openly annoying Captain Qwark to take out evil Chairman Drek who is up to his usual antics in taking over Solana Galaxy. What’s great is seeing the characters grow and change throughout the entirety of the game, something that was also present in the original. Check out the gameplay trailer below.
What I enjoyed the most about Ratchet & Clank were the little references and jokes thrown into the story in reference to the older versions of the games. One specific example I can remember is Ratchet was talking to The Plumber (originally known as The Mechanic in the original) about getting his ship fixed and The Plumber was saying goodbye to Ratchet and throws in, “See you in the next reboot!” And Ratchet just kind of stared at him blankly. There’s nothing better than a joke that breaks the fourth wall, making the game characters appear as if they have knowledge of the world outside of the video game. But does that mean there are more reboots to come? Fingers crossed.
Throughout my entire gameplay experience, I think I may have encountered one small bug on planet Kerwan. After collecting everything I could and finishing up the mission, I was supposed to hop onto a moving platform and be transferred up to the exit. But when I entered the area, the platform never started moving. I thought something had changed in this version of the game and I had to find another way out, but I couldn’t. So I committed suicide in the water and re-entered the last area to find the platform finally coming down to transport me. But one small bug that was easily fixed didn’t alter my perception of the game in its entirety.
The new weapon selection via the D-pad was very easy to use and allowed me to customize where each weapon should be placed. The only trouble I had with that feature is when I used the joystick on the PS4 controller, it wouldn’t always want to switch to the weapon I moved it to. I had to roll the joystick around a few times just to get it to move. Eventually I just had to use the D-pad to select them, which was kind of a hassle since I was a joystick user. But overall, pulling up the weapon selection menu and switching became quick and effortless after I fell into a routine—a lot easier than I have experienced in other games.
Upgrading weapons was endlessly entertaining because if you kill enemies in the game and like to smash everything that’s smashable, you’ll collect a ton of Raritanium to spend on upgrades. Many of the upgrades were subtle, like extending the length of time of the weapon, but the weapon selection was added to since the last Ratchet & Clank game. One of the newest weapons added to the reboot is the Pixelizer, which does just what it sounds like, blowing enemies into an 8-bit pixelated death. And there was a returning favorite of mine, the Mr. Zurkon, which shoots enemies alongside you. Although I was a little bummed to not see the RYNO (which stood for “Rip You A New One”), but I think the new Groovitron makes up for that.
During gameplay, I couldn’t help but feel elated at the fact I was finally getting my hands on a kind of game I had been begging for, something that automatically transported me back to a time when platformers like these were being pushed out one after another. This is what platform gaming was all about. With an enriching and entertaining story, seamless gameplay and distinct character personalities, I couldn’t describe a better platform gaming experience.
For years, I’ve been waiting for games like Spyro The Dragon or Crash Bandicoot to be rebooted and given the next-gen treatment they deserve, and the reboot of Ratchet & Clank did just that.
This review based on a PS4 copy of the content provided by the publisher.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
ESRB: Everyone 10+