The Insane Arsenal Action of the Original Ratchet & Clank
Insomniac is no stranger to some incredibly charming games targeted at younger audiences. The developer had years with the Spyro the Dragon series, making it a classic and iconic fixture of the original PlayStation. When it came time to put a bookend on their part of the Spyro series and move on to greener pastures with the PlayStation 2, they came ready to play. It was on this day in 2002 that Insomniac released the original Rachet & Clank, kicking off one of the most iconic Sony franchises of all time.
Conception of Ratchet & Clank began around early 2001. The team was looking to create a fun new IP that might catch on for the PS2 the way Spyro caught on for the PS1. A character collecting unique weapons throughout the galaxy was always part of the core idea, though Ratchet was originally conceived as a space-traveling alien reptile. Just as well, the protagonist was originally designed to have not one, but many robot servants that would perform different functions. Eventually, Ratchet was redesigned as a cat-like being to give him an agile look and the many robots were reduced to the singular Clank to simplify the approach to gameplay.
During the development process, Insomniac Games came to some lucrative dealings with fellow Sony-backed studio Naughty Dog. Naughty Dog wanted to offer Insomniac the option to use some of the engine and software designs used for Naughty Dog’s Jak & Daxter in return for Insomniac sharing any improvements they made to Naughty Dog designs. Insomniac happily agreed and though they built much of Ratchet & Clank’s engine from the ground up, Naughty Dog’s cooperation allowed for a much easier time in rendering many of the game’s graphical features, particularly environments.
Ratchet & Clank begins on a desolate world where a war factory producing mechanical soldiers accidentally churns out a self-aware mini-robot. The robot finds that his makers, the Blarg, have ruined their planet and are building an army to go invade other planets, kill their inhabitants, take their resources and build a new prosperous homeworld. The robot escapes the planet on a spaceship, but is shot down over a desert planet where the feline-like lombax, Ratchet lives on his own. After the robot explains the situation, Ratchet agrees to team up with the robot, dubbing him Clank, and working in cooperation to get off the planet and stop the Blarg schemes.
Ratchet & Clank is a 3D shooter in design, but it most certainly took the medium to a place few others had tread. The game featured 36 unique weapons and gadgets with which to fight enemies off in the game, ranging from a simple side pistol to absolute absurdities like the Suck Cannon, which allows Ratchet to vacuum up smaller enemies and then launch them like projectiles. Even more than the thirty-six weapons included in the game were created, but the list was whittled down to what were the most fun and/or practical designs. It made playing through the game over and over as you fiddle around with what weapons work best a literal blast.
Ratchet & Clank knocked it out of the park yet again for Insomniac. The cooperation with Naughty Dog led a game with stellar graphics for its time and its tight control, fun gameplay and various weaponry were a big hit for most critics and fans. It was certainly enough for Sony to continue to turn to Insomniac for sequels over the course of the PlayStation 2’s lifespan, and even all the way up to the PlayStation 4. Ratchet & Clank has had a long run of solid games throughout Sony’s continuing line-up between console generations and although Insomniac would continue to move onto new grounds, Ratchet & Clank is a franchise that still flourishes.