The Ratchet & Clank series is a video game franchise created by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It was developed as a Sony intellectual property exclusively for PlayStation hardware, having begun on the PlayStation 2 and since being developed for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PlayStation Portable. Many releases are also playable on the PS Vita hardware and PlayStation Now online service. Outside of video games, the series has been featured in many forms of media such as comic books and film.
The games feature a science fiction setting and span a variety of genres, mostly focused on third-person action-adventure and shooting, with elements of platforming, racing, and puzzle solving. They are primarily known for their weaponry, featuring a wide variety of often comically outlandish, yet strategically valuable, weapons. The plot arc focuses on Ratchet, a lombax mechanic with a lifelong desire to explore space, and Clank, a Zoni robot created in a robot factory, as they go on adventures to save the universe from various threats.
In the main series, gameplay focuses on Ratchet, who carries Clank as a backpack, as he explores different planets to complete objectives before unlocking and moving onto another. Ratchet can jump and double jump, aided by Clank through built-in gadgets such as the Heli-Pack, plus he wields a wide variety of weapons and gadgets. Ratchet's most common device is the OmniWrench, which appears in many varieties and is used as a melee weapon in combat, for turning bolt cranks, and picking up and throwing items (in later installments). His other weapons and gadgets can be cycled through using pause menus or the Quick Select. Bolts, which serve as the main form of currency in the series, can be obtained by defeating enemies and smashing crates, and they are required for purchasing weapons, armor, and other items the player may need. The player character is provided with health, in the form of nanotech, which is displayed (after the first two installments) as a numeric value. It can have its maximum capacity upgraded by defeating enemies (after the first installment) and can be replenished from nanotech crates. When depleted, the player will respawn at the most recent checkpoint (with no other negative consequences).
Gadgets are normally earned through story objectives, and they help Ratchet progress through otherwise inaccessible areas. These gadgets come in the form of items that can be manually controlled in place of weapons (with the most common being the Swingshot) or equipped items that, once acquired, will activate when needed (with the most common being Grind Boots and various hacking devices used to solve puzzles to unlock a room). Weapons are normally purchased at vendors with bolts or obtained for free by completing side or main story objectives. They can be upgraded and, in some cases, customized by the player in some form. In addition to this, Ratchet can purchase armor to help resist damage.
Many objectives also allow the player to control Clank exclusively, whose objectives involve puzzle-solving to complete them. Clank has a basic moveset, with the ability to double jump and use melee attacks, and like Ratchet, he can collect bolts and nanotech by breaking crates (though his maximum nanotech cannot be upgraded). Aside from this, Clank features different abilities (depending on the game) to allow him to resolve puzzles and move onto the next objective. Most commonly, Clank can command different Gadge-Bots (or Microbots in the second installment) through an environment to direct them to enter into terminals, allowing him to proceed.
Ratchet and Clank sometimes pilot vehicles to complete story and side missions. As they fly various spaceships on their adventures, they can often fly them in battle, dogfighting against enemies in space, or the skies of several planets. Additionally, they are often able to operate vehicles used in galactic racing events, such as hoverboards and hoverbikes.
The series is set in a science-fiction universe, in which Ratchet and Clank visit many planets within the Solana Galaxy, Bogon Galaxy, and Polaris Galaxy. The timeline begins with the first game in the year 5354, with time kept in a calendar similar to Earth's calendar. The universe is populated by many alien species and sentient robots, of which most are humanoid, though no humans exist in the universe. The universe shares a common language, and a common currency in the form of bolts.
Aesthetically, many planets in the universe feature metropolises which are similar to 1950s and 1960s science fiction, and feature a collision between nature and architecture, with signature rivets, cables, and tension wires holding things together. Civilization is largely similar to 21st century Earth, leading to many popular culture references. Each galaxy is typically dominated by a megacorporation — Gadgetron Corporation in Solana, Megacorp in Bogon, and Grummel Net Industries in Polaris — whose vendors feature around the world, from which Ratchet purchases all his weaponry.
The universe was once home to the lombaxes, a race of expert engineers, who developed some of the most advanced technology and fastest spaceships in the universe. However, the lombaxes were mostly defeated by Percival Tachyon, a cragmite who sought revenge for his species after the lombaxes had defeated the cragmites during the Great War. While Ratchet is the last known lombax in the universe, he encounters two other lombaxes during the series: Angela Cross and Alister Azimuth.
The space-time continuum in the universe is kept in balance by the Great Clock, a space construct located roughly in the center of the universe operated by the Zoni, an invisible hive mind species who can manipulate time. It was constructed by Orvus to repair the space-time continuum after it was torn apart by the overuse of time travel by the fongoids.
The plot began with the first Ratchet & Clank. Ratchet lived on Veldin, a backwater planet in the Solana Galaxy, and longed for a life of adventure. He met a robot, Clank, who crash-landed on the planet. Shortly after meeting, the two embarked on a mission to save the galaxy from Chairman Drek, who was destroying planets to construct a new home for the blarg. While trying to save the galaxy, he sought the help of his idol, celebrity superhero Captain Qwark.
In Going Commando, Ratchet and Clank were abducted by Megacorp CEO Abercrombie Fizzwidget, who recruited Ratchet as a commando to retrieve a biological "experiment", which was stolen by a mysterious thief. In Up Your Arsenal, Ratchet and Clank returned to Solana, which has come under attack by the evil Dr. Nefarious, a robotic mad scientist who aimed to exterminate all organic life forms and replace the population with robots. They teamed up with the Galactic Rangers, and Captain Qwark's team, the Q-Force, to defeat Nefarious. In Deadlocked, Ratchet and Clank were abducted by Gleeman Vox and forced to participate in the illegal combat sport DreadZone, in which they were among many heroes featuring in a dangerous combat sport that has killed many heroes, and had to work to eliminate it.
After the original series, the main plot continued in the Future series. In Tools of Destruction, Kerwan was attacked by Emperor Tachyon, a cragmite who wished to assassinate Ratchet, the last lombax. This forced Ratchet to follow him back to Polaris in which, on his mission to defeat Tachyon, he learned more about his race, the lombaxes, while Clank was encountered by the Zoni, and the two explored the story of their origin. In Quest for Booty, Ratchet searched for Clank, who was abducted by the Zoni, and searched for a device known as the Obsidian Eye on Merdegraw. In A Crack in Time, Ratchet continued his search for Clank in the Breegus System, while Clank woke up aboard the Great Clock to repair it after Nefarious attempted to take over the Clock for himself to control time. Finally, in Into the Nexus, Ratchet and Clank worked to stop Vendra Prog from bringing the nethers into the universe, while Ratchet had to decide whether or not to save his race.
|Ratchet & Clank||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PS Vita||2002|
|Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PS Vita||2003|
|Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PS Vita||2004|
|Ratchet: Deadlocked||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3||2005|
|Ratchet & Clank: Going Mobile||Handheld Games||Phones||2005|
|Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters||High Impact Games||PSP, PlayStation 2, PS Vita||2007|
|Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 3, PlayStation Now||2007|
|Secret Agent Clank||High Impact Games||PSP, PlayStation 2, PS Vita||2008|
|Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 3, PlayStation Now||2008|
|Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 3, PlayStation Now||2009|
|Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 3, PlayStation Now||2011|
|Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 3, PS Vita, PlayStation Now||2012|
|Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 3, PlayStation Now||2013|
|Ratchet & Clank: Before the Nexus||Insomniac Games||Android, iOS||2013|
|Ratchet & Clank||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 4||2016|
|Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart||Insomniac Games||PlayStation 5||2021|
- Ratchet & Clank Collection (2012)
The only compilation released for the series has been the Ratchet & Clank Collection, released for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. Idol Minds ported it to the PS3, while Mass Media Inc. ported it to PS Vita.
- Ratchet & Clank: Bang Bang Bang! Critical Danger of the Galaxy Legend manga (2005)
- Ratchet & Clank comic series (2010)
- Ratchet & Clank movie (2016)
- Ratchet & Clank: Life of Pie short movie (2021)
A manga written by Shinbo Nomura was released in 2005. A comic book series written by series writer TJ Fixman was released with six issues, both digitally, in select stores, and as a book containing all issues. A movie was produced by Rainmaker Entertainment and released in 2016, and though it was made in collaboration with Insomniac Games and Sony Interactive Entertainment, it was released by subsidiaries of Comcast and not by Sony Pictures Entertainment. In 2021 a short movie was released on Crave, produced by Mainframe Studios, formerly known as Rainmaker Entertainment.
The Ratchet & Clank series has been directed by Brian Allgeier, the director of level design for the original series, since Tools of Destruction. Soundtracks were composed by David Bergeaud up to A Crack in Time.
Insomniac Games began planning their first PlayStation 2 project before completing Spyro: Year of the Dragon, and had decided against developing more Spyro games, instead opting to move away from brighter colors, cartoony characters, and platforming mechanics in favor of a much deeper story.
Initially, they began developing an adventure-role playing game that took influences from Tomb Raider and The Legend of Zelda, internally titled both I5 (Insomniac's fifth game) and Girl With a Stick (as the game featured a female protagonist who wielded a stick as her weapon), though both the team's lack of enthusiasm for the project and Sony Computer Entertainment America's executive producer Connie Booth's advice against it led to the team ceasing production.
Another idea that Insomniac had was a game titled Monster Knight, featuring a knight named Madi who would catch, grow, and wield intelligent monsters with unique personalities as weapons, armor, gear, and vehicles. These monsters would grow throughout the course of the game, and formed the basis for the weapons, gadgets, and role-playing game-like progression systems seen in Ratchet & Clank.
PlayStation 2 era
Following this, Insomniac brainstormed ideas for a new project, with Brian Hastings proposing the idea of a reptilian alien traveling through planets and collecting weapons. This took several influences, including The Little Prince, Marvin the Martian, Star Wars, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Banjo-Kazooie, Super Metroid, The Iron Giant, Super Mario 64, and The Legend of Zelda. The original idea morphed into a fuzzy caveman, led to space by a robot on a mission to save the galaxy, before the caveman's club was replaced with the OmniWrench 8000, and the caveman became a mechanic.
With the concept in place, Insomniac shared some technology developed by Naughty Dog for Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy after being offered, taking a keen interest in the background rendering engine, and the team continued to use and optimize the technology in between development of their PS2 titles, including adding code such as more efficient polygon occlusion technology that Naughty Dog would use in their own games.
Insomniac took inspiration from The Legend of Zelda, The Little Prince, Marvin the Martian from Looney Tunes, The Iron Giant, and Super Mario 64, with the intent to make an experience deeper than Spyro. Almost every concept found its way into the game, as the team developed games in the series at a rapid pace. Insomniac avoided referring to the new project as a platformer, wishing to distance the game from "collectathon" platformers of the time, though the video game press referred to it as a platformer nonetheless. The story was thought of as a "Lethal Weapon meets Saturday morning cartoons" type of narrative. The first Ratchet & Clank had begun production in November 2001, and was released in November 2002.
Work began on a sequel before Ratchet & Clank was launched, as a sequel was approved five months before its release due to Sony's confidence in its success. The team felt they could further push the genre, and believed weapons in the original were too optional and that role-playing mechanics did not go deep enough. They therefore focused on the ability to upgrade weapons and equipment, introducing even more role-playing elements to the game. Captain Qwark was added late into development due to the team missing his presence from the first game, allowing Qwark to become a staple of the series, appearing in all entries.
After Going Commando was completed, the team conceptualized a new galactic calamity to be averted, in which they created Dr. Nefarious, whose popularity led to him becoming a recurring character in the series. The third title used an adapted control scheme more similar to a third-person shooter, a strategic move to keep the series relevant, as the team had been surprised by how platformers and mascot-style games had become a tougher sell; this led to the game series evolving from a "platformer with shooting" to a "shooter with platforming" to remain relevant. With their final PS2 title, the team opted to deviate further from their roots with a grimmer story for Deadlocked, and took inspirations from Halo.
PlayStation 3 era
Following this, Insomniac pursued its ambition of developing a launch title for a PlayStation console in the form of a drastically different title with Resistance: Fall of Man, a first-person shooter which took a few elements of the weaponry from Ratchet & Clank. However, several titles were developed for other platforms by other developers. Going Mobile was a simplified but traditional Ratchet & Clank experience published by Sony Pictures Mobile for mobile phones. Sony Computer Entertainment also requested High Impact Games, a studio with ex-Ratchet developers, to develop Ratchet & Clank titles for the PlayStation Portable, beginning with Size Matters, which the team developed to take much of the experience to portable consoles and develop a narrative that conflict with future plans by Insomniac Games for the duo.
After completing Resistance: Fall of Man, Insomniac Games had a greater grasp on development for the PlayStation 3 hardware, and began work on a more ambitious title in the form of the Future series, which would explore the duo's past, beginning with Tools of Destruction. The focus was now on creating a playable CGI film, maintaining the humor and heart of previous stories while going more in-depth. The new hardware brought the potential for greater graphical fidelity, but that also led to new challenges and required the team to remake every asset from scratch. While creating a CGI movie, Insomniac also wanted to include procedurally generated planets, open space exploration (later included in A Crack in Time), and include a co-operative and online mode, but their ambitions had to be dialed back, and while twenty-five planets had been planned at first, the final product included only sixteen. Insomniac hired T.J. Fixman to write for the games at the start of this period. Fixman, Insomniac CEO Ted Price, and director Brian Allgeier worked on a franchise bible to tie together the previously loose lore and mythology from the games, as well as adding more depth to the characters and their backstories.
Tools of Destruction, the first in the new Future series, was released in October 2007. The next title in the series would be a short digital download title, in the form of Quest for Booty, released in 2008, and teasing the next release with "The Quest Continues in Fall 2009" upon completion. A Crack in Time was released the following year, expanding on the storytelling, rounding out the Future saga. Insomniac thought that A Crack in Time would be the final game in the series, though it sold well enough for that Sony requested Insomniac to continue the series.
Following this, Insomniac's new studio in Durham, North Carolina was staffed with Ratchet & Clank veterans, and the team wished to be more experimental, making three very new and different Ratchet & Clank games. All 4 One was developed as a co-operative multiplayer game, while Full Frontal Assault focused on competitive multiplayer. Into the Nexus returned to the series' core gameplay and rounded off the Future series story, with the game featuring a more spooky atmosphere than previously. The bold new steps taken in the games were a strategic decision by Insomniac to adapt the series and embrace possible change.
PlayStation 4 era
For their first PlayStation 4 title, Insomniac Games developed a re-imagining of Ratchet & Clank, seeing the animated film by Comcast as a great opportunity to return to the first game, making several updates to the visuals, gameplay, and narrative. It was developed collaboratively with the film studios, with many assets reused by both from the PS3 titles. It was also developed between both Insomniac's North Carolina and Burbank, California studios. The plot of the film had been changed largely by Hollywood writers, meaning it no longer fit within series' lore, leading Insomniac to include Captain Qwark in the game as an unreliable narrator to resolve inconsistencies.
|Ratchet & Clank (PS2)||89.74%||88|
|Up Your Arsenal||91.54%||91|
|Size Matters||85.33% (PSP)
|Tools of Destruction||88.74%||89|
|Secret Agent Clank||73.60% (PSP)
|Quest for Booty||77.80%||76|
|A Crack in Time||87.88%||87|
|All 4 One||70.63%||70|
81.00% (PS Vita)
76 (PS Vita)
|Full Frontal Assault||64.63% (PSP)
53.50% (PS Vita)
|Into the Nexus||77.06%||76|
|Ratchet & Clank (PS4)||83.80%||85|
The Ratchet & Clank series has generally been met with positive reviews, with its core series receiving higher praise than its spinoff titles. Its highest rated game has been Up Your Arsenal, with a 91.54% average review score on GameRankings, and a 91% average review score on Metacritic, while its lowest rated release on the original console of release is Full Frontal Assault at an average score of 64.63% on GameRankings, and 64 on Metacritic. Up Your Arsenal has also frequently been heralded as one of the best games of the PlayStation 2. IGN listed Up Your Arsenal as the 18th best PlayStation 2 game released, while GamesRader listed it as 9th best, Complex listed it as 12th best,  and Destructoid referred to it as a "pinnacle of the 3D platformer for its generation."
The series has been received positively for its varied gameplay, its satisfying weapons, its animated-style graphics, and its broad appeal to all ages. Speaking of the first three titles, IGN commented that their "focus on combat and creative weaponry was a great gameplay foundation, but their gadgets, puzzles, platforming, minigames, exotic locations, art direction, and sense of humor" helped make them special. GameSpot called both its first title and the remake "endearing and entertaining," "veritable power fantas[ies] fueled by rockets and carried by specialty gadgets." Destructoid has referred to both Up Your Arsenal and A Crack in Time as among the greatest 3D platformer titles ever released, while calling Going Commando a "stroke of genius" and saying that the games "haven't aged a bit."
However, the series has received criticism in some aspects. Among its positively received titles, many critics have admitted that many who become tired of the series' formula may find its titles repetitive. Conversely, its more experimental, multiplayer-focused titles have been viewed as weaker if still good. Deadlocked, Full Frontal Assault, and All 4 One were criticized for sacrificing exploration and openness in level design for their multiplayer focus.
The series has sold over 26 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling video game franchises. The first Ratchet & Clank was the first Western game to be bundled in with the PlayStation 2 in Japan after breaking into the top 100 chart, showing its appeal in Japan.
The fastest selling title in the series was Ratchet & Clank for PS4 in 2016.
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