Why Ratchet & Clank (2002) Is Still A Timeless Classic 22 Years On


This is my childhood condensed into 900 words from 18,000. Hopefully my games development lecturer will actually read this one.

Ratchet & Clank‘ (2002) was before its time. A classic released in 2002 which has since been remade and the storyline continued for the PS3, PS4 and the hard to buy PS5. Each iteration of the PlayStation means that while everyone is excited for a new console, I’m excited for one thing: a new Ratchet and Clank game.

Ratchet and Clank was the second most successful franchise for Insomniac Games after the Spyro The Dragon trilogy which they ended up selling the rights to after the third game – they felt they had ‘done enough with the story’, though, in my very professional opinion, they were wrong. However, you may find remnants of Spyro the Dragon, especially within the gameplay, the loveable but sarcastic characters, and the secret, unlockable content in Ratchet & Clank.

The original game centres around a lombax (a ‘cat-like space creature’) and a defective robot moving around a galaxy attempting to find the beloved superhero, Captain Qwark. In short, it’s a third-person shooter, space adventure platform game, with more weapons you can think of, and villains that their artist probably had nightmares about (see: Amoeboids).

Spoiler: Captain Qwark is a d**k.

Starting off on planet Veldin, you meet Ratchet. He has a ship, he has a dream and he’s handy – ladies, he’s fictional. He is alone on planet Veldin, except the weird-looking frogs, and the Gadgetron Helpdesk lady who supplies him with weapons (and who I aspire to be). Originally, I had his entire backstory with his dad, the cragmites and my dreams for the future written out here, but word count. Word. Count.

After meeting Clank on Veldin, who escaped from planet Quartu, Ratchet fixes him up and Clank explains that he came from a planet where Chairman Drek (our antagonist) is creating warbots to take parts from different planets and create his own planet where he and the Blarg will live happily ever after. Believable for space aliens, obviously.

At this point in 2002, the lack of backstory makes it difficult to understand why we should emphasise this space cat and his defective friend. We know he idolises Captain Qwark, we know he’s alone, and we know that he surprisingly has a lot of charisma for someone who is alone, but we don’t know anything about him. We also know XJ0461, nicknamed ‘Clank’, has come from nowhere, stole a ship, and also worships this random humanoid, Captain Qwark. Should this have been our tell that something was not as it seemed? Probably. But we play anyways because it’s a game because it has a storyline. It has an A to B. However, what’s nice about it is that point B isn’t what we think it is.

The game’s narrative makes it easy for us to fall in love with the two characters – whether it’s Ratchet’s charm, or Clank’s naivety. Their banter throughout the story shows their friendship develop, from Ratchet mending Clank, to Clank supporting Ratchet. Both outcasts, to best friends, to family.

The storyline will keep you attached. The in-game currency isn’t limited to the bolts you find scattered on the floor which you can trade for weapons and ammo, but also the gold bolts which you can find by making your way to secret caves and locations (if you’re familiar with Spyro the Dragon, you’ll be used to how Insomniac hide their golden goodies). Another method they keep you hooked, which you find later on in the game on planet Rilgar, is the R.Y.N.O., or the ‘Rip Ya a New One’ as it’s referred to by the shady salesman you find in the centre of Blackwater City. It is a weapon described as ‘too dangerous for civilian use’. The catch? It costs 1,000,000 bolts. Yep, that means you’re going to have to replay all of the planets before and after Rilgar. But don’t you want the weapon only sold by black market vendors!? You will when you’re chasing Chairman Drek around movable platforms.

Each planet has its own individual selling point – from fighting giant robots, taking part in hoverboard races, to disguising yourself as Captain Qwark himself to breaking into a warbot facility, the planets never get boring, and neither does the catch-you-out storyline.

However, if you do manage to destroy Mr Drek and his Blargians, make sure you also pay attention to the incredible soundtrack. While the live orchestral version is obviously better, there’s nothing quite like speedrunning an assignment while listening to the theme of planet Rilgar, or humming planet Kerwan’s tune frustratedly while baking. Either way, it’s fun, it’s catchy, and it’s all inside this video game. You can also save it to your Spotify library right now because some incredible human has put all the tunes together, and yep, that’s what you can hear me humming in the kitchen at 4am while I make my dinosaur nuggies.

Right, I’ve never been good at conclusions and if you think I’m going to start right now while I’m writing about my favourite topic, you’re wrong. Ratchet & Clank is brilliant, from 2002 to the latest 2021 release. Bring on the Dimensionator.

Oh, and you might be wondering, why is Captain Qwark a d**k? Think Gilderoy Lockhart but without the magic and an even bigger superiority complex, somehow.



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i am a third year education with creative writing student (: probably baking brownies, reading, writing, or download sims 4 custom content.

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