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Ratchet and Clank series

The logo of the Ratchet & Clank series

The Ratchet & Clank series is a video game franchise created by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It is developed as a Sony intellectual property exclusively for PlayStation hardware, having begun on the PlayStation 2 and since being developed for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and the PlayStation Portable. Many releases are also playable on the PS Vita hardware and the PlayStation Now online service. Outside of video games, it has been seen in many forms of media such as comic books and film.

The games feature a science fiction setting and span a variety of genres, mostly focused on third person action adventure and shooting, with elements of platforming, racing and puzzle solving. It is primarily known for its weaponry, featuring a wide variety of often comically outlandish yet strategically valuable weapons. The plot arc focuses on Ratchet, a Lombax mechanic with a lifelong desire to explore space, and Clank, a Zoni robot, as they go on adventures to save the universe from threats.

Gameplay

In the main series, gameplay focuses on Ratchet, who carries Clank as a backpack, as he explores different planets to complete objectives before unlocking and moving onto another. Ratchet has the ability to jump and double jump, aided by Clank through in-built gadgets such as the Heli-Pack, and wields a wide variety of weapons and gadgets. Ratchet's most common device is the OmniWrench, which appears in many varieties, and is used as a melee weapon in combat as well as to turn bolt cranks and pick up and throw items (in later installments). His other weapons and gadgets can be cycled through using pause menus or the Quick Select. He can obtain bolts from defeated enemies and crates, which are used as currency, in order to purchase weapons, armor and other items the player may need. The player character has health, in the form of nanotech, which is displayed (after the first two installments) as a numeric value, can have its maximum capacity upgraded by defeating enemies (after the first installment), and can be replenished from nanotech crates. When depleted, the player will be returned to the most recent checkpoint (with no other negative consequences).

Gadgets are normally earned through story objectives, and help Ratchet progress through otherwise inaccessible areas. These gadgets come in the form of gadgets that can be manually controlled in the place of a weapon (with the most common being the Swingshot) or equipped items that once acquired will activate when needed (with the most common being Grind Boots and various hacking devices, that require puzzles to unlock a room). Weapons are normally purchased at vendors with bolts or obtained for free by completing side or main story objectives, and can be upgraded, and in some cases customized, by the player in some form. In addition to this, Ratchet can purchase armor to help resist damage.

Many objectives also allow the player to control Clank exclusively, whose objectives involves puzzle solving to complete it. Clank has a basic moveset with the ability to double jump and use melee attacks, and like Ratchet, can collect bolts and nanotech through crates (though his maximum nanotech cannot be upgraded). Aside from this, Clank features different abilities (depending on the game) to allow him to resolve puzzles and move onto the next objective. Most commonly, Clank is able to command different Gadge-Bots through an environment to direct them to enter into terminals that allow him to proceed.

Ratchet and Clank sometimes pilot vehicles to complete story and side objectives. As they fly various spaceships on their adventures, they can often fly these spaceships in battle, dogfighting against enemies in space or in the skies. Additionally, they are often able to operate vehicles used in galactic racing events, such as hoverboards and hoverbikes.

Synopsis

Setting

The series is set in a science fiction universe, in which Ratchet and Clank have visited many planets its Solana Galaxy, Bogon Galaxy and Polaris Galaxy. The universe is populated by many alien species and sentient robots, of which most are humanoid. The universe shares a common language, and a common currency in the form of bolts. Aesthetically, many planets in the universe feature metropolises which are similar to 1980s science fiction. Civilization is largely similar to 21st century Earth, leading to many popular culture references. Each galaxy is typically dominated by a megacorporation - Gadgetron Corporation in Solana, MegaCorp in Bogon and Grummel Net Industries in Polaris - whose vendors feature around the world, from which Ratchet purchases all his weaponry.

The universe was once home to the Lombaxes, a race of expert engineers, who developed some of the universe' most advanced technology and fastest spaceships. However, the Lombaxes were mostly defeated by Percival Tachyon, a Cragmite who sought revenge for his species after the Lombaxes had defeated the Cragmites during the Great War. While Ratchet is the last known Lombax in the universe, he encounters two other Lombaxes during the series, Angela Cross and Alister Azimuth.

The space-time continuum in the universe is kept in balance by the Great Clock, a space construct located roughly in the center of the universe operated by the Zoni, an invisible hive mind species who can manipulate time. It was constructed by Orvus in order to repair the space-time continuum after it was torn apart by the overuse of time travel by the Fongoids.

Plot

The plot begins with the first Ratchet & Clank. Ratchet lives on Veldin, a backwater planet in Veldin, and longs for a life of adventure. He sees the perfect opportunity with a robot, Clank, crashes on the planet, on a mission to save the galaxy from Chairman Drek, who is destroying planets in order to construct a new home for the Blarg. While trying to save the galaxy, he seeks the help of his idol, famous celebrity superhero Captain Qwark.

In Going Commando, Ratchet and Clank are abducted by MegaCorp CEO Abercrombie Fizzwidget who recruits Ratchet as a commando in order to retrieve a biological "Experiment" which was stolen by a mysterious thief. In Up Your Arsenal, Ratchet and Clank return to Solana, which has come under attack by the evil Dr. Nefarious, a robotic mad scientist who aims to exterminate all organic life forms and replace the population with robots. They team up with the Galactic Rangers, Captain Qwark and his team the Q-Force, in order to defeat Nefarious. In Deadlocked, Ratchet and Clank are abducted and forced to participate in the illegal combat sport DreadZone by Gleeman Vox, in which they are among many heroes featuring in a dangerous combat sport that has killed many heroes, and must work to eliminate it.

After the original series, the main plot continues in the Future series. In Tools of Destruction, Kerwan is attacked by Emperor Tachyon, a Cragmite who wishes to assassinate Ratchet, the last Lombax. This forces Ratchet to follow him back to Polaris in which, on his mission to defeat Tachyon, he learns more about his race, the Lombaxes, while Clank is visited by the Zoni, and the two explore their origins story. In Quest for Booty, Ratchet searches for Clank, who was abducted by the Zoni, and searches for a device known as the Obsidian Eye on planet Merdegraw. In A Crack in Time, Ratchet continues his search for Clank in the Breegus System, while Clank wakes up aboard the Great Clock to repair it, after Nefarious attempts to take over the Great Clock for himself to control time.

Releases

Games

Game Developer Platform Release year
Ratchet & Clank Insomniac Games PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 2002
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando Insomniac Games PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 2003
Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal Insomniac Games PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 2004
Ratchet: Deadlocked Insomniac Games PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 2005
Ratchet & Clank: Going Mobile Handheld Games Phones 2005
Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters High Impact Games PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2 2007
Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction Insomniac Games PlayStation 3, PlayStation Now 2007
Secret Agent Clank High Impact Games PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2 2008
Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty Insomniac Games PlayStation 3, PlayStation Now 2008
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time Insomniac Games PlayStation 3, PlayStation Now 2009
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Insomniac Games PlayStation 3, PlayStation Now 2011
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Insomniac Games PlayStation 3, PS Vita, PlayStation Now 2012
Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus Insomniac Games PlayStation 3, PlayStation Now 2013
Ratchet & Clank: Before the Nexus Insomniac Games Android, iOS 2013
Ratchet & Clank Insomniac Games PlayStation 4 2016

Compilations

The only compilation released for the series has been the Ratchet & Clank Collection, released for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. Idol Minds ported it to the PlayStation 3, while Mass Media Inc. ported it to PS Vita.

Other media

A manga written by Shinbo Nomura was released in 2005. A comic book series written by series writer TJ Fixman was released with six issues, both digitally, in select stores, and as a book containing all issues. A movie was released in 2016, and though it was made in collaboration with Insomniac Games and Sony Interactive Entertainment, it was released by subsidiaries of Comcast and not by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Development

Ratchet colour test

Color testing for concepts of Ratchet

Insomniac Games began planning their first PlayStation 2 project before completing Spyro: Year of the Dragon, and had decided against developing more Spyro games, instead opting to move away from brighter colors, cartoony characters and platforming mechanics in favor of a much deeper story.[1] Initially, they began developing an adventure-role playing game that took influences from Tomb Raider and The Legend of Zelda, internally titled both I5 (Insomniac's fifth game) and Girl with a Stick (as the game featured a female protagonist who wielded a stick as her weapon), though both the team's lack of enthusiasm for the project and Sony Computer Entertainment America's executive producer Connie Booth's advice against it led to the team ceasing production.[1][2] Following this, Insomniac brainstormed ideas for a new project, with Brian Hastings proposing the idea of a reptillian alien traveling through planets and collecting weapons.[2] This idea morphed into a fuzzy caveman, led to space by a robot on a mission to save the galaxy, before the caveman's club was replaced with the OmniWrench 8000, and the caveman became a mechanic.[2] With the concept in place, Insomniac shared some technology developed by Naughty Dog for Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy after being offered, taking a keen interest in the background rendering engine,[3] and the team continued to use and optimize the technology in between development of their PS2 titles.[4] The first Ratchet & Clank had begun production in November 2001, and was released in November 2002.

Work began on a sequel before Ratchet & Clank was launched, as a sequel was approved five months prior to its release due to Sony's confidence in its success.[4] The team focused on the ability to upgrade weapons and equipment, introducing even more role-playing elements to the game. Captain Qwark was added late into development due to the team missing his presence from the first game, allowing Qwark to become a staple of the series appearing in all entries.[4] After Going Commando was completed, the team conceptualized a new galactic calamity to be averted, in which they created Dr. Nefarious,[4] whose popularity led to him becoming a recurring character in the series. With their final PS2 title, the team opted to deviate further from their roots with a grimmer story for Deadlocked.[5]

Following this, Insomniac pursued its ambition of developing a launch title for a PlayStation console in the form of a drastically different title with Resistance: Fall of Man, a first person shooter which took a few elements of the weaponry from Ratchet & Clank.[5] However, several titles were developed for other platforms by other developers. Going Mobile was a simplified but traditional Ratchet & Clank experience published by Sony Pictures Mobile for mobile phones. Sony Computer Entertainment also requested High Impact Games, a studio with ex-Ratchet developers, develop Ratchet & Clank titles for the PlayStation Portable, beginning with Size Matters, which the team developed to take much of the experience to portable consoles and develop a narrative that conflict with future plans by Insomniac Games for the duo.[5]

After completing Resistance: Fall of Man, Insomniac Games had a greater grasp on development for the PlayStation 3 hardware, and began work on a more ambitious title in the form of the Future series, which would explore the duo's past, beginning with Tools of Destruction.[6] The next title in the series would be a short digital download title, in the form of Quest for Booty, released in 2008, and teasing the next release with "The Quest Continues in Fall 2009" upon completion. Following this, entries in the series took a more experimental direction, geared towards multiplayer, with All 4 One as a co-operative multiplayer game, and Full Frontal Assault developed with focus on competitive multiplayer. After this, Into the Nexus was developed as the final title in the Future series, tying up all loose ends and releasing near the end of the PlayStation 3's life.

For their first PlayStation 4 title, Insomniac Games developed a re-imagining of Ratchet & Clank, seeing the animated film by Comcast as a great opportunity to return to the first game, making several updates to the visuals, the gameplay, and the narrative.[7] It was developed collaboratively with the film studios, with many assets reused by both from the PS3 titles.[7]

Reception

Critical reception

Game GameRankings Metacritic
Ratchet & Clank (PS2) 89.74%[8] 88[9]
Going Commando 90.64%[10] 90[11]
Up Your Arsenal 91.54%[12] 91[13]
Deadlocked 82.64%[14] 81[15]
Size Matters 85.33% (PSP)[16]
64.14% (PS2)[17]
85 (PSP)[18]
62 (PS2)[19]
Tools of Destruction 88.74%[20] 89[21]
Secret Agent Clank 73.60% (PSP)[22]
61.00% (PS2)[23]
72 (PSP)[24]
61 (PS2)[25]
Quest for Booty 77.80%[26] 76[27]
A Crack in Time 87.88%[28] 87[29]
All 4 One 70.63%[30] 70[31]
Collection 83.80% (PS3)[32]
81.00% (PS Vita)[33]
83 (PS3)[34]
76 (PS Vita)[35]
Full Frontal Assault 64.63% (PS3)[36]
53.50% (PS Vita)[37]
64 (PS3)[38]
Into the Nexus 77.06%[39] 76[40]
Ratchet & Clank (PS4) 83.80%[41] 85[42]

The Ratchet & Clank series has generally been met positive reviews, with its core series receiving higher praise than its spinoff titles. Its highest rated game has been Up Your Arsenal with a 91.54% average review score on GameRankings[12] and a 91 average review score on Metacritic,[13] while its lowest rated release on the original console of release is Full Frontal Assault at 64.63% average score on GameRankings[36] and 64 on Metacritic[38]. Up Your Arsenal has also frequently been heralded as one of the best games of the PlayStation 2. IGN listed Up Your Arsenal as the 18th best PlayStation 2 game released,[43] while GamesRader listed it as 9th best,[44], Complex listed it as 12th best, [45] and Destructoid referred to it as a "pinnacle of the 3D platformer for its generation".[46]

The series has been received positively for its varied gameplay, its satisfying weapons, its animated-style graphics, and its broad appeal to all ages.[7][47][48][49] Speaking of the first three titles, IGN commented that their "focus on combat and creative weaponry was a great gameplay foundation" but their " gadgets, puzzles, platforming, mini-games, exotic locations, art direction and sense of humour" helped make them special.[50] GameSpot called both its first title and the remake "endearing and entertaining" "veritable power fantas[ies] fueled by rockets and carried by specialty gadgets".[49] Destructoid has referred to both Up Your Arsenal and A Crack in Time as among the greatest 3D platformer titles ever released, while calling Going Commando a "stroke of genius" and saying that the games "haven't aged a bit".[46]

However, the series has received criticism in some aspects. Among its positively received titles, many critics have admitted that many who become tired of the series' formula may find its titles repetitive.[47][48] Conversely, its more experimental, multiplayer-focused titles have been viewed as weaker if still good. Deadlocked, Full Frontal Assault and All 4 One were criticized for sacrificing exploration and openness in level design for their multiplayer focus.[51][52][53]

Commercial performance

The series has sold over 26 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling video game franchises.[54] The first Ratchet & Clank was the first Western game to be bundled in with the PlayStation 2 in Japan after breaking into the top 100 chart, showing its appeal in Japan.[2]

The fastest selling title in the series was Ratchet & Clank for PS4 in 2016.[55]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Postmortem: Insomniac Games' Ratchet & Clank p1 Gamasutra. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 IGN Presents The History of Ratchet & Clank p1 IGN. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  3. Postmortem: Insomniac Games' Ratchet & Clank Gamasutra. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 IGN Presents The History of Ratchet & Clank p2 IGN. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 IGN Presents The History of Ratchet & Clank p3 IGN. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  6. IGN Presents The History of Ratchet & Clank p4 IGN. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Interview: Insomniac Games Discusses the Past, Present, and Future of Ratchet & Clank IGN. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  8. Ratchet & Clank GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  9. Ratchet & Clank Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  10. Going Commando GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  11. Going Commando Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Up Your Arsenal GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Up Your Arsenal Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  14. Deadlocked GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  15. Deadlocked Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  16. Size Matters PSP GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  17. Size Matters PS2 GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  18. Size Matters PSP Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  19. Size Matters PS2 Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  20. Tools of Destruction GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  21. Tools of Destruction Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  22. Secret Agent Clank PSP GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  23. Secret Agent Clank PS2 GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  24. Secret Agent Clank PSP Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  25. Size Matters PS2 Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  26. Quest for Booty GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  27. Quest for Booty Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  28. A Crack in Time GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  29. A Crack in Time Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  30. All 4 One GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  31. All 4 One Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  32. Collection PS3 GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  33. Collection PS Vita GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  34. Collection PS3 Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  35. Collection Vita Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  36. 36.0 36.1 Full Frontal Assault PS3 GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  37. Full Frontal Assault PS Vita GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  38. 38.0 38.1 Full Frontal Assault PS3 Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  39. Into the Nexus GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  40. Into the Nexus Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  41. Ratchet & Clank PS4 GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  42. Ratchet & Clank PS4 Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  43. Top 25 PS2 Games IGN. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  44. The best 25 PS2 games of all time GamesRadar. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  45. The 50 Best PS2 Games Ever Complex. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  46. 46.0 46.1 Review: Ratchet and Clank Collection Destructoid. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  47. 47.0 47.1 Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time Review IGN. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  48. 48.0 48.1 The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy Review EuroGamer. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  49. 49.0 49.1 Ratchet & Clank (PS4) Review GameSpot. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  50. Ratchet & Clank Collection Review IGN. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  51. Ratchet: Deadlocked Review IGN. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  52. Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Review GameSpot. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  53. Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Review - PS3 PushSquare. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  54. Sony PlayStation Franchise Ratchet And Clank Goes Hollywood With 3D Feature Film Forbes. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  55. The Ratchet & Clank Movie Hits Theaters Today PlayStation Blog. Retrieved April 16, 2017.

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