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Why I like Ratchet and Clank

I’ve asked myself this question many a time ever since I started playing these games back in the early days of the PlayStation 2 and I still come back to the same answer: simplicity and fun.

ratchet doing what he does bestThere was a time not long ago when simply being fun was good enough for most games, when giant weaving stories weren’t required, when narrative was a secondary feature at most, when all that mattered was whether or not what you were doing was rubbing the pleasure center of your brain in the way only a truly enjoyable experience can.   Now I’m not saying the evolution of gaming as a medium to revolve more around things besides raw entertainment is bad, nor am I saying that a game with a great story and a lot of mature, meaningful content cannot co-exist with a more traditionally fun experience since after all, we have countless titles this generation that demonstrate as much. 

But when I think about what I love most about games, what gets me most excited to play them, it is gameplay, it is fun, it is the satisfaction of pressing some buttons and watching amazing things happen instantly on a screen.  The visceral, deeply satisfying feedback of gaming is unmatched by anything else as far as I’m concerned, except for perhaps the most extreme of athletic sports and adrenaline fuelled activities.  Since I am, however, a no-good lazy gamer with zero interest in sports, I have to treat games as the be-all end-all of “getting my fix.”  

Viewed on the outside, the Ratchet and Clank series is known as little more than an action platformer aimed at children and this is, more or less, what they are and I wouldn’t have them any other way.  See, children have very short attention spans and they don’t care about the Ezio's motivation in Assassins Creed or why Solid Snake has to do the things he does. They just want to see cool stuff and play cool stuff.  I have cousins of varying ages, so I know this for a fact.

the 4 ready for action... with one goal

So I guess you could say I like it when I can play a game that is clearly aimed at kids and not feel bad for doing so.  Maybe it’s the giant crazy guns. Maybe it’s that, from time to time, there is humor and references only adults would pick up on. But the Ratchet and Clank games, above all else, just nail the fun.  They take fun out back, beat the crap out of him, tell him to be better and next thing you know, he’s president of all things awesome.  Think about the Mario games and how satisfying it is to simply jump.  Your little fat plumber avatar flies upwards at ridiculous speed and reaches a height no creature with such stumpy legs should be able to manage, but its' Mario so you don’t care. He lives among talking mushrooms and in every adventure has to rescue the same blonde haired woman with a weird interest in spiky turtles and castles. You don’t want realism or logic with that; you want more insanity.

In every new Ratchet game there has been a new arsenal of weapons and gadgets, new enemies that behave and look differently, new levels with stranger and crazier designs, and incredibly, there is even a narrative of sorts. Reoccurring characters show up, some story threads are carried over from game to game, but they all pretty much just start with a new big-bad doing bad things and it’s up to the furry Lombax and his metal friend to take them down. That’s all you really need.  I’m not into the games because I care that Ratchet has a family and a race he’s never met.  His story is fine, it’s very simple and it serves as a nice backdrop for the gameplay, but that isn’t why I play them.

big bosses as you'd expect

I have spent so much time playing dark, gritty, realistic, gory games this generation and I love them, god how I do.  But I cannot just play those.  No gamer should ever only play those.  You are doing yourself a massive disservice if all you ever play is military shooters, cover-based shooters and titles like God of War and Mortal Kombat.  I need diversity in my games, and as much as I can possibly get.  This week, I am going to be playing both Batman: Arkham City and Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One.  I am no fool. I know which of the two will sell better and has more mass market appeal to the average gamer.  Many adult gamers feel that titles like All 4 One are beneath them, that their very simple design and premise isn’t enough to satisfy them, or whatever strange reason they use to justify such an attitude.

At the end of the day, all I want from a game is to be entertained.  So many games fail to sell because people think they’re “too kiddy” or “dumb” or whatever other nonsense they can come up that grossly misidentifies what they are actually talking about.  There is certainly something wrong with someone younger than 12 playing a game like Modern Warfare in my opinion, but there is absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever with someone, of any age, playing a Ratchet and Clank game.


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