Retrospective: Ratchet & Clank

The one that isn't Jak & Daxter.

Here are some of the thoughts I've had while playing third-person platformer action Ratchet & Clank, organised into categories:

I like things

I like platform games with lists of quests. Sure, I'm just running around hitting things and jumping up buildings, but I'm doing it with a strong sense of purpose. Here it's to send the buddy team of cat-fox thing Ratchet and snooty robot Clank on an adventure to save the galaxy.

And you can double-jump, which is obviously best. And while it fails to have rocket packs, it does have the ability to drift on helicopter blades, which is a close replacement. And it has a grappling hook. So it's essentially the best game ever, just short of rockets.

I also like having an awful lot of weapons. So many that there's not room for all of them on the giant wheel of weapons. Especially when there's such huge variety, letting you approach the combat in the manner you find most fun, whether that's direct melee, distant shooting, or detached use of minions.

And I like free money.

Money for nothing

I really wish you could earn money by running around and smashing things. I've tried it, and I can absolutely assure you it doesn't work. Other than safes, piggybanks, and bank vaults. And then people get all cross. They're like, "Hey! That's my daughter's piggybank! What in the hell do you think you're doing?"

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There is, of course, a slippy-slidey ice world. Much like everywhere else in the game.

But smash crates, barrels, crockery - all you get is broken crates, barrels and furious parents who don't invite you back for Christmas next year. In fact, if anything, rushing around the streets of Bath town centre with a bat smashing everything you see actually costs you money. Money for which I'll be suing Sony and Insomniac Games very soon.

Just think how much easier life would be! You're waiting for the bus, realise that you're a few pence short, so just punch a few bins, maybe even just chop some grass, and you're rich!

Although it does make me wonder why everyone else doesn't do it. The citizens of any Zelda game who live in villages packed with grasslands bursting with rupees are just idiots. And in Ratchet and Clank's universe, where bits of old metal are the accepted currency, you'd have to be in a coma not to be a millionaire.

I'm just saying, basing your economy on things found on the ground isn't going to lead to fiscal stability.

A smashing time

I love smashing things. Whether money comes out of them or not. Not really in real life - I'd feel terrible. But in games. As soon as Eurogamer lets me, I'm going to spend an entire retro writing about why I love smashing things up in Burnout Paradise. I don't care about the races - just the smashing. Because, and here's the phrase with which I'll win the election:

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Man, this is just another one of those on-rails shooters. Ha ha! A joke!

SMASHING IS SMASHING!

R&C, like any proper platform game, has an awful lot of things to smash. And it lets you smash them in a really splendid way. Crates stacked atop one another will fall down as you knock out the one below. Which may sound like a small thing. Heck, it may sound like how you spent an entire weekend in Minecraft. But there's something perfect about the timing of how they fall in this game, each blow from Ratchet swung just in time to so satisfyingly eliminate a complete stack.

Or you can shoot them with the gun, explode them with bombs, and best of all, ultra-punch them with the Walloper glove. ULTRA-PUNCH!

Cartoons last forever

Sophisticated game engines do not age well. The once gob-smacking Quakes and Unreals of the nineties now look like they're made of crudely propped up cardboard. But make something as a chunky cartoon and it's immortal. Go back and play 1993's Day of the Tentacle for the best evidence of this. And then try coping with the excellent Grim Fandango's awful polygonal 3D that looks as though a child with hands covered in peanut butter tried to do some papercraft with cereal packets.

Ratchet & Clank came out in late 2002. It looks utterly gorgeous. I just glanced at the TV across the room and was taken aback. Eight years old, on PS2, and I don't need anything more from my graphics. That's the magic of cartoons. Everything should be cartoons. And talking of which...

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