In a generation where companies think we will forget about their franchise if they do not rush out a remake or a remaster, a lot of them get it wrong. They change too much to where it’s a unrecognisable mess or they change too little, simply looking like they wanted to squeeze a little more cash out of our wallets to play the same thing on a different system.
Ratchet and Clank had the audacity to attempt to do both, remaster the original by doing a retelling of the story, building it back from the ground up as a tie-in with their new movie. It was bold and maybe a little crazy from the guys at Insomniac but oh my, they absolutely pulled it off.
As a disclaimer, I will admit that I am a huge fan of the series. If I have enough steel to play the pretty poor Ratchet: Deadlocked four times willingly, that I can’t be wholly separated from my nostalgia, even though the other games do hold up to today’s standard. Arena battle though, am I right? Maybe not.
Admittedly, they did not change much in the gameplay department but when you have a nice Porsche, you don’t put an enormous spoiler and spinners on it because it will just look silly. That uncategorised mix of platforming and run-gunning that is usually tied up in the ambiguous “adventure” game remains as you try to create as much mayhem with wacky weapons as possible.
They don’t shirk from their meat and potatoes and for good reason, it’s damn fun. Whether you’re using an original like the Pyrocitor, giggling at the corny one-liners from series favourite Mr Zurkon or turning back the video game clock on your enemies with the Pixelizer. Much like the other games in the series, your weapons level up and improve before turning into something a little different at level five, incentivising use of all at your disposal to keep up the variety in the cartoony slaughter.
It’s an absolutely beautiful game, looking like a Pixar adventure rather than a video game. Most of the levels are rebuilds of the originals and they have that uncanny valley feeling about them, you can recognise them but the facelift is so significant that the images match the rose-tinted glasses I wore in my youth, it looks damn pretty.
The biggest change was the story, which does change the ending but it makes it a better franchise fit both for the older games and the future. Telling it from the point of view from Captain Quark was a masterstroke, his snarky delivery and his usual character ark is always such a plus to the series and it was genius to use him as a focal point.
That’s not to say it’s perfect, the villains take a severe back-seat and the relationship between Ratchet and Clank is immediate, taking away a lot of their character development and their growth as a team. Clank’s levels are also a little short and simple, except for the excellent final one, and the game as a whole is a little easy even for the younger generation.
Overall, Insomniac knew they had bread and decided to make toast. They took inspiration from the original, cooked it with a little bit on influence from what else made the series great before spreading some buttery newness on top to give that extra flavour. It showed exactly how to give everyone something familiar but new, remembering to stay fun and to please the hardcore fanbase and newcomers.