Picking games to play with your wife is a delicate operation. There are many crucial factors to weigh : do we both think the game would be fun? Do I think I’ll enjoy it? Do I think she’ll enjoy it? Will it be too hard?
I don’t know that I’ve ever picked a really great game that we both liked. But one time about five years ago I at least picked a game that I really liked.
Insomniac’s Ratchet and Clank was an unusual pick for us. It was not an RTS or an FPS (my staples then and now) or an RPG or straight platformer (my wife’s favorites). But my wife and I saw a piece on G4 about the game before it was released, as well as the many amusing commercials, and we both said “I’d play it”, so there we were.
I was immediately stupefied by the game and I’ve loved the series ever since. Not only were the big things in the game great – the many varieties of base gameplay, the weapons, the graphics – but the small things were also great. The mini-games were tons of fun, and I had a blast gathering all the skill points and golden bolts after I beat the game the first time. The story was so-so but it was generally humorous. The difficulty level was perfect for me and my wife – hard but achievable.
There’s no greater honor I can bestow on a game than completing it – I have had probably 200 games during my life and I’ve beaten maybe 15. I’ve actually beaten every Ratchet and Clank game I own multiple times, including all the extras. Not a big deal for your average gamer, but a huge deal for me.
The awesomeness of the game is overwhelming me, so let us resort to base enumeration.
Ten Things I Loved About Ratchet And Clank
10. The Gadgets
Ratchet and Clank always had neat gadgets to collect that both advanced the story line and made the game easier. It’s hard to pick a favorite but the neatest was probably the Hydro-Pack, that let you move quickly underwater. It makes you think “Why does every other game in the world make me suffer when I’m underwater?”
9. The Characters and The Enemies
Ratchet and Clank are fun (and funny) characters although in the first game they annoyingly bicker a lot. There’s also Captain Qwark, a celebrity superhero who’s humorous failures provide much of the impetus behind the plot. The enemies are smart and memorable and some of them even fight each other – I don’t know why I love enemies beating the crap out of other but I do.
8. The Levels
Big, beautiful, and well-designed. Every time you complete a branch of a level you discover that you are back at your ship, so the game has practically no backtracking. There are a large varieties of settings for the levels : there are levels in cities, in jungles, underwater, on spaceships, on space stations, in deserts, and even a level in a store. And there are just different types of levels : in some you race against time, some are puzzles, in some there are ongoing battles between NPCs. Some are heavy on platforming, others are heavy on action.
7. The Humor
It’s not incredibly funny, but it’s probably the first game that made me laugh (intentionally).
6. The Collectibles
Earning skill points and gold bolts sustained me when I’d already beaten the game twice.
5. The Many Varieties of Base Gameplay
It seems like every level in the game gave you some twist on the basic action-platformer, which was fun on its own. Some levels would see you without Clank, some (Pikmin-ish) levels without Ratchet. Sometimes you would use a grapple gun to swing through a level, sometimes you would use grind boots to slide (on a rail) through a level. There were levels you swam through, with the help of your trusty hydro-pack which propelled you quickly through the water. There were arenas where you fought giant robots with giant Clank (with Ratchet humorously strapped to your back). There were shooting levels where you manned a giant stationary gun. I’m sure I’m missing something. There’s just so much variety in gameplay mechanics and every one executed well.
4. The Mini-Games
The best varieties of base gameplay were fleshed out into their own mini-games, with arenas, racetracks, and space battles that you could revisit for fame, fortune, and fun.
3. The Action Platforming
Just the very base gameplay – the thing you do most of the time in the game – worked really well. It’s great that all the extras are fun, but a great game has to have a great basic conflict mechanic and Ratchet and Clank had it.
2. The RYNO
One gameplay mechanic that I loved (and so did Insomniac, it’s repeated in subsequent games) is the super-expensive, ultra-powerful weapon. The idea is that you can optionally spend a ton of time collecting bolts for the “ultimate weapon”. And it is truly a ton of time – probably a quarter to a half of the time of the entire rest of the game.
In the first game the RYNO (Rip You a New One) is the super weapon. It is just really cool and incredibly powerful. It fires multiple rockets that lock on individual targets and destroy almost any enemy. When you kill the final boss with the RYNO you will go through, IIRC, around nine of the fifty rounds the gun holds.
It’s just a great idea because it’s a blast to have this God Mode in the game, but the weapon is such a difficult acquisition that you’ll probably beat the game once before you ever get it.
1. The Weapons
The RYNO is king of the many Ratchet and Clank weapons and almost all of them are great. it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’m rather fond of the Suck Cannon, the Glove of Doom (releases helpful, deadly robots), and the Morph-O-Ray, which turns your enemies into chickens. There’s also a single upgrades for every weapon but the Ryno to turn them into the “Gold Weapons”, which do more damage and have more features.
Five years later I still love all these games. After the first, Insomniac released successors in breakneck fashion, releasing a new game every year. The second game, “Going Commando”, was the best, the later games adopting gimmicks that didn’t really pan out.
As for me, I still don’t have a PS3. I have, however, informed the wife that it will be my next big purchase. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but I’m totally willing to blow 500 bucks on the fifth Ratchet and Clank game. read