Insomniac Games made the famous Spyro trilogy for the PS1 in the late 90s and early 2000s, but after Spyro 3, they stopped developing Spyro games. Ratchet and Clank, a platformer/shooter hybrid game, soon replaced Spyro as Insomniac’s flagship series. Released in 2002, the first Ratchet and Clank game was one of my first video games, and I hold it dear to my heart. Though I love this game, I’m going to have to take my bias aside, and see how well this game has aged.
The gameplay of Ratchet and Clank is simple enough, but has plenty of bells and whistles to make it interesting. The goals of each planet, the equivalent of levels in this space traveling adventure, vary, but mainly consist of Ratchet and Clank, the titular characters, traveling from point A to point B. There are platforms to traverse, enemies to kill, and puzzles to solve. The weapons that Ratchet uses are what makes this game fun. They can be your standard shotgun, flamethrower, or machine gun, but there are also weapons that go off the beaten path. There is the Tesla Claw, a claw that shoots lightning, the Suck Cannon, which sucks smaller enemies in, and shoots them out as projectiles, and the R.I.N.O., which is the most expensive weapon in the game and essentially puts the game on easy mode. These weapons are bought with bolts, which are the currency of the game. These bolts buy many different items, and it’s necessary to get as many as you can. This is where my first issue with the game occurs. A lot of the weapons are very expensive, and accumulating a large number of bolts takes a lot longer than it should. In order to purchase the R.I.N.O., which costs a sum of 150,000 bolts, you would have to play through the entire game, collecting every bolt you see, over 3 times. Accumulating bolts is fixed in later entries, but it still sucks getting them in the original game. Another issue is switching weapons. In order to switch the weapon you’re using with another, you have to press the Triangle button, which brings up a menu with all of your weapons. This is great, as you can quickly switch your weapon out, but it doesn’t pause the game, and leaves you an open target for enemies for a few seconds. I’ve lost a lot of health because of this. Health is my final issue with the original Ratchet and Clank’s gameplay. You are given four hit points at the start of the game, which isn’t nearly enough. This game has some challenge to it, and you’ll find yourself dying a lot if you aren’t experienced. It’s possible to extend your health, but it’s very expensive, and only gives you eight hit points maximum. Though there are quite a few issues with the original Ratchet and Clank, this doesn’t make the game bad, just aged a bit. These problems are all fixed in the later entries.
The graphics of Ratchet and Clank looked great for the time. The character models are smooth and detailed, and each planet has its own unique look to it. Some textures might not be the best looking nowadays, but they’re few and far between. The music is also fantastic, having a techno-rockish soundtrack. Each planet has its own theme as well, and most of them are great tracks. The graphics and music of Ratchet and Clank still hold up today, for the most part.
The controls of Ratchet and Clank are also very solid. They never don’t feel fluid unless Ratchet is using the Hologuise, but that’s supposed to feel bad. Jumping feels amazing, and there’s a reason that the controls have remained the same as the series has progressed. Ratchet and Clank’s controls are some of the best on the PS2.
The original Ratchet and Clank has objectively the worst gameplay of the entire series, but the controls, music, and graphics still hold up very well today. Even though there are problems with gameplay, the game is still easy to pick up. There was actually a remake of this game released in 2016 that was very well received. This would be the definitive way to play the original Ratchet and Clank, with HD graphics, new bells and whistles, and new story elements added. Ratchet and Clank hasn’t aged the best, but is still worth playing today, especially through the remake.