Retrospective: Ratchet & Clank • Page 2

The one that isn't Jak & Daxter.

I hear voices

Games are finally, in just the last year or so, beginning to take voice acting and directing seriously. But if your game is a cartoon, the expectations are higher.

I'm a little behind on the current generation of Cartoon Network/Nick cartoons, because I'm THIRTY-THREE. But if things are anything like they were a couple of years ago, TV cartoons have never been better. The calibre of voice acting has often been top notch since the form began, with perhaps the exception of the seventies and eighties, but right now if you're a cartoon, you have the best.

Ratchet & Clank lives up to this. Clank, the small, intellectual robot, is voiced by David Kaye, who not only went on to be brilliant as multiple characters in Pyschonauts, but is also the voice of Megatron in multiple Transformers TV outings. Megatron! Jim Ward, a veteran of many excellent games and cartoons, including the wonderful Fairly Odd Parents, does his turn as Qwark.

Family Guy regular and enormously prolific TV voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson plays the nefarious Ultimate Supreme Executive Drek. There's a bunch of voices provided by Scrubs' Janitor, Neil Flynn. And on and on and on.

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Nothing scared me more than purple lightning attacks when I was a kid. This still scares me a bit now.

The only dodgy voice of the lot is - rather sadly - Ratchet, whose stroppy attitude is made completely unsympathetic thanks to a teenage surf-dude voice that's very off-putting. Every time he speaks it's hard not to think it's a bit of a shame you're playing as him. But then, you can always jump him off a cliff.

Jumping off a cliff

I just don't think it's a good idea to jump from precarious ledges to moving, floating discs if you're wearing shoes with less grip than Ellie has on reality, in a world apparently coated in especially slidey black ice.

I don't know what's wrong in Platform Game Land that all the surfaces are so incredibly slippy. It's as if the local councils sneak out during the dead of night and secretly smear everything in butter.

I don't skid to a stop. Try it yourself. Unless you're in a ballroom wearing some slippers, when you put your shoes down firmly on the ground you don't continue sliding for a bit, probably off the edge of something. What you do is stop. And if you're hoping for a skid, the momentum then causes you to fall over flat on your face. Or head first off the edge of something.

Know your limits

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But of course the boss fights are all annoying.

Here's a tip for all platform game developers: you're making a platform game. If you then think to include a level in which the player must complete a race, what you are going to make is a rubbish race. Because making a racing game takes ages, and when you try to do that in the time it takes to make a single level of a game, you're being rude.

Real-time strategy games don't suddenly introduce a section of side-scrolling shoot-'em-up. Sid Meier's Civilization doesn't include a sequence in which you must successfully jump Caesar across a pool of lava covered in floating blocks. Gran Turismo 5 contains no levels in which you must defeat a ninja with a sword.

So just be a platform game. Because I don't tend to enjoy replaying the same boring, poorly structured race seventy thousand times in order to be able to carry on playing the platform game I was thoroughly enjoying.

I like colours

I'm very tired.

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