Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is less than a month away, and is shaping up to not only be an incredible game, showcasing what the PS5 can do, but also be a love letter to the entire series nearly 20 years of history, In honor of not only that, but also my personal love and emotional connection to the series, I took it upon myself to replay, and platinum run, every mainline Ratchet & Clank game before Rift Apart releases this June 11th, to give each game a look with fresh eyes and see how they have evolved over the years.
The original Ratchet & Clank was released exclusively for the Playstation 2 on November 4, 2002, to immediate acclaim.
The foundations of R&C gameplay started here, and of course, they’re not as optimized or polished as they are in the years to follow, they are a very good first step. The mix of 3D platforming and shooting was already there. Most of Ratchet & Clank’s moves were established in this game, Ratchet’s double jumps, wall jumps, Clank’s Heli-Pack and Thruster Pack upgrades that allow long jump and high jumps, his hydro pack and the O2 mask allowing full underwater traversal. The introduction of series staples such as the swingshot, Grind Boots, allowing for unique action set-pieces as you grind at high speeds along metal cables, and Magneboots, granting the ability to walk along certain metal walls and ceilings. The main ability that is lacking here is a dedicated strafe, which is a drawback that prevents the gunplay from reaching its full potential.
One of the qualities that Insomniac games is known for is areas that feel like worlds that actually exist, that feel more real and lived-in than just a numbered level in a video game. This is most famous with their Spider-Man games, but has been something they’ve always done well. Spyro the Dragon was also known for it, and they continued that trend with Ratchet & Clank. The game pushed the ps2 to its limit, from the massive cityscape of Kerwan to the wide beaches and bays of Pokitaru to the polluted wasteland of Orxon. Accompanied by an incredible soundtrack. Kyzil Plateau is one of my personal favorite opening level songs in any game
Even at the first entry, what put Ratchet & Clank apart was the creative and gratuitously destructive weaponry, and the roster of weapons in this game is very solid, it’s not my personal favorite n the series, but for
The Omniwrench-The Omniwrench has been a stable of Ratchet’s Moveset in every game, being a dedicated button for just melee attacks, like a knife in any number of games, serving as a reliable amount of damage at any time with no ammo. In later games, the wrench is drastically outgunned by nearly everything but in the first game the weapons don’t upgrade, so the wrench does notable damage even in the late game.
Bomb Glove: The only weapon you start the game with, besides the omniwrench. Throws small explosive bomblets, essentially grenades. A versatile weapon that can work in most situations, either as good single target damage or using splash damage to hit multiple targets
Pyrociter: First purchasable weapon, a flamethrower that works as a short-range weapon, great at clearing crowds of weak enemies
Blaster: ANother early purchasable weapon, fires a stream of weak energy pellets with a high rate of fire. Has good accuracy and range, but low damage.
Glove of Doom: One of the most famous weapons in the series, spawns 4 tiny robots who aggressively seek out enemies before exploding.
Suck Cannon: A free weapon found in a hidden path. Sucks up small enemies and shoots them back as projectiles. While restricted by the need for there to be smaller enemies, this means the weapon’s ammo can be found in most combat encounters and has decent range, damage, and accuracy.
Taunter: A weapon that resembles a megaphone, products sustained loud noises that, while dealing no damage, can destroy creates trigger mines, and draw enemies attention, allowing to draw them out either to fight one on one or draw them into traps.
Mine Glove: Throws floating spiked mines that when near an enemy, will activate and float towards them before exploding.
Devastator: The rocket launcher of this game, fires damaging fast-moving rockets that home in on enemies.
Walloper: A white metal boxing glove, it has no ammo, and using it engulfs the glove in electricity and sends Ratchet flying forward a short distance. Deals more damage then the Omniwrench, and has better range, but has mild endlag after use, leaving you open if you miss.
Visibomb Launcher: Fires a powerful missile, after firing, the camera cuts to the back of the missile and takes on a green staticy screen, allowing you to remotely steer the missile.
Decoy Glove: Throws an inflatable dummy resembling ratchet, any enemy will attack the dummy first.
Drone Device: Spawns 6 floating orbs around you, each orb will either block incoming damage or attack a nearby enemy. Each orb can be used once.
Tesla Claw: The last, and most expensive, weapon available in general weapon vendors. FIres a continuous stream of electricity, dealing strong damage and automatically targeting any enemy on screen.
Morph-o-Ray: Another weapon found on a hidden path. It takes no ammo. Fires a continuous stream of energy, hitting enemies with it slowly fills up a bar, when filled it turns the enemy into a chicken, essentially instantly killing them. Takes longer against stronger enemies, but can be used on every enemy
R.Y.N.O: Rip You A New One. The most expensive and powerful weapon in the game. Only available to be purchased from the shady guy in a back alley in Blackwater City for 150,000 bolts, which is more than 3 times more expensive than the second most expensive. It fires a barrage of homing missions that destroy most enemies in a single shot.
Gold weapons are upgraded forms of existing weapons, available for a hefty sum of bolts and a few gold bolts. 5 are available during the first playthrough at a hidden vendor late in the game.
And an additional 5 once you begin NG+
Glove of Doom
The original game isn’t that hard to 100% complete. The lack of the XP system from later games means that a major aspect of completing future games is almost entirely absent. The main checklist would be
-Collect all 40 Gold Bolts
-beat all 30 skill points
-Collect all 15 weapons
-Purchase all 10 Gold Weapons
-Purchase both Nanotech Upgrades (Health upgrade)
Gold bolts are hidden collectibles hidden throughout the game. They are in some clever locations and can be used to buy gold weapons, upgraded versions of existing weapons. Gold bolts have returned in every game in some form, and are always interesting and fun to find. Sometimes requiring you to return to earlier levels with later equipment, or perform tricky platforming or puzzle solving to access
Skill points are the precursors to those trophies that need you to perform arbitrary challenges. Such as beating a certain boss with only the wrench, or beat a certain section without getting hit, etc. There are 30 in total, and for most of them, you are given nothing but a name of the skill point to go off of. Which would be a much larger problem if it wasn’t for the internet.
In all seriousness, the skill points provide one of the most challenging aspects of completing the game.
The game isn’t really a chore to 100% complete unless you are on the ps3/vita version and choose to platinum run it. And even then, most of the trophies will be achieved just by playing the game normally, nothing major you’d have to do that you wouldn’t already do in a full playthrough. with one exception
For the trophy “Bolt Collector”, You must collect 1,000,000 bolts, which in this game is an absurd amount, if you were to purchase every item in the game, including NG+ you would need:
260,000 to purchase every weapon. (Without the unlockable discount)
230,000 to purchase every Gold Weapon
51,000 for every gadget and Nanotech boost
17,000 to buy every story item, including in NG+
588,000 bolt is the most you would need to buy everything in the game in a normal and NG+ playthrough, which is just over half of the amount for the trophy and is still a hefty grind to acquire anyway. Let alone a full million. There is not an overabundance of ways to farm bolts in the first game. Meaning the best way to get the trophy rather than playing around 50+ hours, involves some glitch abuse. You can glitch onto the hoverboard track in Blackwater City, and you can stand in a particular spot and have crates constantly respawn just out off-screen, using the taunter you can have a continuous stream of bolts spawn. It still takes a few hours. Honestly, this is me just confessing to having rubber banded my controller overnight.
At the end of the day, The original Ratchet & Clank is a great game and it’s clear to see why Sony approved a sequel before it even released. Of course in some ways, it’s aged poorly compared to its successors, but that can’t be held against it, those improvements only exist because of its success. But despite that, the game holds up extremely well, it’s still a very good 3D platformer with wacky and creative weapons, the levels are visually distinctive and well designed, both as levels and as locations. The music is incredible, in my opinion, it’s one of the best in series history. The weapon selection is solid, including some of the best in the series, (namely the Glove of Doom and the Suck Cannon). The story isn’t perfect, (Ratchet isn’t very likable for most of the game). But for a time where 3D platformers were just starting to get notable stories, the game has a good one, not only with an interesting and sinister villain in Chairman Drek, but also sets up the universe and characters that would be the foundation of the entire series.
Ratchet & Clank is a great first entry in the series, and a great overall game. I would absolutely recommend playing it if you’re at all a fan of 3D platformers. It’s of course available on the original ps2, but the HD remake is available on ps3 and vita, especially given the fact that sony is no longer shutting the stores down. You can also stream it on ps4 or pc using PlayStation now. It unfortunately is not fully available on ps4 or ps5 yet. But if you have access to any platform with it, it’s definitely worth trying.