Challenge mode is a mode in gameplay featured in the entire Ratchet & Clank series, except Going Mobile, Quest for Booty, All 4 One, and Full Frontal Assault. After finishing the game, the player can replay the game while retaining all weapons with any upgrades and mods, their nanotech level, bolts, armor, skill points, and most collectible items and some equipment. To compensate, enemies are more powerful and can withstand more damage. The player is granted a bolt multiplier, which increases in value based on how many enemies are destroyed without taking damage, up to a maximum of twenty.
Challenge mode is an option often presented to the player upon finishing the game, alongside the option to warp back to before the player defeated the final boss, allowing them to obtain any secrets remaining before attempting to move forward. It is possible to have multiple challenge mode playthroughs, and in some cases, this is required to obtain all items.
Ratchet & Clank (2002)
Challenge mode in the original Ratchet & Clank is available upon completion of the game. After the credits and final cutscene, the HelpDesk Girl will appear on screen, present the player's number of gold bolts, gold weapons, and unlocked skill points, with the option to start a new game with all weapons, bolts, goodies, and nanotech upgrades by pressing , or to time warp to before defeating Chairman Drek by pressing .
In challenge mode, all ten gold weapons are available on Novalis or the Gemlik Base, as opposed to the five available only on the Gemlik Base in a normal playthrough. While there is no bolt multiplier, bolts are obtained a little more quickly. Enemies are not significantly stronger than a normal playthrough. The only items and gadgets that are retained in continued playthroughs are the Gadgetron PDA, Persuader, Bolt Grabber, and Map-o-Matic.
Though not referred to as "challenge mode" in-game, or in the original PlayStation 2 release, it is referred to as "challenge mode" in save files in this playthrough for the Ratchet & Clank Collection and standalone HD PlayStation 3 release.
Challenge mode in Going Commando is the first version of "challenge mode", and the first to feature a bolt multiplier. After the credits and the final cutscene, a message will appear, with the option to enter challenge mode by pressing or to time warp to before defeating the Mutant Protopet (though this is listed as "before defeating Captain Qwark") with . This version retains all bolts, platinum bolts, raritanium, weapons and their mods, nanotech level and nanotech boosts, armor, and ship upgrades from Slim Cognito's Ship Shack for the Star Explorer, as well as the Charge Boots, Mapper, Armor Magnetizer and Box Breaker.
New Mega Weapon upgrades become available for all upgraded weapons at a Megacorp vendor (excluding the Zodiac), including for Gadgetron weapons that cannot upgrade (excluding the RYNO II), additionally the entirely new Clank Zapper becomes available. The Mega versions of Megacorp weapons then can be upgraded to an Ultra variant. The RYNO II can now also be bought everywhere (instead of just at Barlow). An armor vendor is now also available on Oozla. Normal nanotech crates restore four nanotech points each, while purple nanotech crates restore sixteen. Additionally, new gladiator challenges for the Megacorp Games and Galactic Gladiators open up. Also, the maximum ammunition the player will get from a pick-up is now doubled. Finally, some extras will be unlocked (or can be unlocked later) in the 'Special' menu.
The math for the bolt multiplier comes down to a rounded Y=2√X equation, Y being the multiplier and X the number of enemies to kill without getting hit.
Up Your Arsenal
Challenge mode in Up Your Arsenal is available after the credits and final cutscene. A message will appear, with the option to enter challenge mode by pressing , or to timewarp to before defeating the Biobliterator with . Challenge mode retains all bolts, titanium bolts, weapons at their current level, nanotech, armor, and ship customization. It also retains the Charge Boots, the Bolt Grabber V2, Gadgetron PDA, and the Nano-pak. The bolt multiplier is available, and is identical to Going Commando. Taking damage while driving a vehicle has no effect on the multiplier, and using a jackpot crate doubles the current multiplier, increasing it up to a maximum of 40.
Mega Weapons become available for all fully upgraded V5 weapons at a Gadgetron vendor, including among Megacorp weapons bought from Slim Cognito (which can then be upgraded to V8). The RY3NO becomes available in challenge mode for 3,000,000 bolts, and both Annihilation Nation and Galactic Rangers missions' bolt rewards increase greatly. Maximum nanotech can also be upgraded up to 200. Players can now also skip Qwark-Vid comics if they want to, to advance quicker through the story (although no bolt or other rewards would be collected).
New bonuses to look at will be unlocked in the 'Special' menu.
Challenge mode in Deadlocked is available after the credits and final cutscene. A message will appear, with the option to select "Yes" to enter challenge mode, while selecting "No" will time warp to before Gleeman Vox was defeated. All bolts, weapons (including the last Wrench Upgrade purchased), alpha mods, omega mods, and combat bot equipment and upgrades are retained. Mega versions of fully upgraded weapons can be purchased, allowing them to upgrade up to V99. The bolt multiplier is also available, up to a maximum of x20. Maximum nanotech can also be upgraded up to 999.
Like prior games, extras (like concept art, epilogue...) are now available in the 'Extras' menu.
Challenge mode in Size Matters is available after the credits. A message will appear, with the option to press to enter challenge mode, or to before defeating Otto Destruct. Like other games, bolt multiplier is present but this time only up to x12. Titan versions of fully upgraded V4 weapons can be purchased from a Gadgetron vendor, allowing them to be upgraded up to V8, while nanotech can be upgraded up to 75. The RYNO also becomes available for purchase at 9,999,000 bolts. More mods from Slim Cognito will be also available. The Hyperborean armor becomes obtainable throughout, while a third playthrough (second challenge mode playthrough) makes the Chameleon armor obtainable. The Giant Clank sections also get harder (with more enemies being on screen, which require a higher score to get the skill points to compensate).
Items retained in this game are the PDA, Box Breaker, and Bolt Grabber.
Secret Agent Clank
Challenge mode in Secret Agent Clank is available after the credits. A message will appear, with the option to press to enter challenge mode, or to before defeating Klunk. Titan upgrades are available for Ratchet's fully upgraded V4 weapons, while Proto upgrades are available for Clank's fully upgraded weapons. The RYNO also becomes available for purchase for Ratchet, while Clank acquires a new gadget, the Therm-Optic Shades, which allows him to scan Alien codes. Nanotech can be upgraded up to 85 (as Clank), and the bolt multiplier is available (up to x12).
In this version, Klunk, the final boss, becomes exceptionally powerful. In the same vein of higher difficulty, the same changes as Size Matters are made to the Giant Clank level.
Items retained in this game are the PDA, Box Breaker, and Bolt Grabber.
Tools of Destruction
Challenge mode in Tools of Destruction is available after the credits. All bolts, Raritanium, gold bolts, RYNO IV holo-plans, weapons at their current level with Raritanium upgrades purchased, armor, and previously obtained Devices are retained. Now the Trilium armor can be bought at GrummelNet. Omega versions of fully upgraded weapons can be purchased allowing them to be upgraded to version 10 (known as VX), and the Golden Groovitron becomes available for 2,000,000 Raritanium. Prizes at the Mukow arena are multiplied by 100. Leviathan souls when sold to the Smuggler also worth much more. The bolt multiplier is also available (up to x20), but it is disabled in Clank's sections. Also, the player gains more Raritanium from Pirate chests and enemies.
In addition, the Decryptor puzzles are harder than in the first playthrough.
A Crack in Time
Challenge mode in A Crack in Time is available after the credits, or can be chosen later in the "Extras" menu if the player decided to return just before final boss' defeat. All bolts, gold bolts, RYNO V holo-plans, weapons at their current level, and armor are retained. Nanotech can be upgraded to a maximum of 199, and Omega versions of fully upgraded weapons can be purchased. The bolt multiplier is also available (up to x20).
Into the Nexus
Challenge mode in Into the Nexus is available after beating the game, and can be begun from the start screen thereafter. Once again, the bolt multiplier (this time up to x10) is here. All bolts, Raritanium, gold bolts, RYNO VII holo-plans, weapons at their current level, and armor are retained. Omega upgrades can be purchased, requiring gold bolts and bolts to buy them, for all fully upgraded V3 weapons, allowing them to upgrade to V6. The Destructapalooza's Platinum Cup challenges become available, as well as the Nether armor. Nanotech can be upgraded up to 200.
The Treasure Mapper is also retained.
Ratchet & Clank (2016)
Challenge mode in the 2016 re-imagined release of Ratchet & Clank is available after completing the game, and can be started from the start screen thereafter. All bolts, raritanium, gold bolts, holocards, RYNO holocards, nanotech, and weapons at their current level (with raritanium upgrades) are retained. Omega weapons can be bought for all fully upgraded V5 ones, if the player got the holocards needed. As the game is completed, a teleporter to the Insomniac Museum is also available on Veldin. The bolt multiplier is also available.
The Map-o-Matic and Box Breaker are also retained.