It’s been nearly twelve years since Ratchet & Clank made their debuts on the PS2, and since then the series has become a staple of Sony’s console library. In those years there have been nine main Ratchet & Clank games, as well as three spin offs, which on average takes the release rate to one per year. This trilogy also released on PS3 a couple of years back, and Dan reviewed it back then giving it an 8.
The last time I properly played a Ratchet & Clank game was in fact the original PS2 titles and Quest For Booty on PS3, but that was years ago. However when I booted up the first Ratchet & Clank memories came back of hitting things with a big wrench and travelling to different planets. But some of the things I so fondly remembered had been coloured by rose tinted glasses, for example travelling to various planets to complete missions.
The main reason for the travel wasn’t exploring new worlds but backtracking to pick up an item you couldn’t before, which would allow you to advance through an area on a different planet. That just felt like an attempt to prolong a game a lot longer than it needed to go on. Then again this is from a different era of game development, and it can just about be forgiven for it. Outside of that the gameplay does hold up, though aiming weapons can feel a bit slow which is especially frustrating when there are lots of enemies to deal with.
Control wise there isn’t much use of the touchscreen or panel with the face buttons being adequate. There are times when the camera angle may betray you, hiding an enemy until it suddenly appears behind you and deals some damage. On some occasions these angles would also hide gaps in certain platforming sections, plummeting Ratchet or Clank into certain death. Considering there were very few checkpoints present these deaths were very unwelcome, especially since most of the time you’d be transported back to the beginning of the area. However, this wouldn’t undo mission progress if you’d completed certain things but all the enemies would respawn.
However, the later two Ratchet & Clank games in the collection do address some of the issues above. There’s a lot less backtracking to unlock different items, and there is also the addition of earning experience points to upgrade the characters’ health, and weapons from little blasters to full minigun style laser weapons. There’s also the addition of strafing enemy fire, which isn’t available in the first title. This trilogy also shows that Ratchet & Clank is more than just the platforming.
You have races and space battles to take part in too. Again in the first title the hoverboard race was rather annoying because Ratchet would pull tricks partway in the air and then crash, leading to losing the race a fair few times. However the space dogfight in two for example is one of my top moments from the trilogy. Waves of enemy ships you have to avoid and destroy all in a total 3D environment is just fun, and it feels incredibly smooth to play.
In terms of graphical and sound quality the Trilogy port for Vita is good, not as great as the Sly Collection port but not as bad as the Jak & Daxter one. The animations are solid and the graphics look fine, but there are very few moments where you’ll be blown away by what you see. There is lots of colour and the various worlds have their own looks and dangers, so you can’t say it’s a lack of variety in design, but there wasn’t that stand out wow moment.
One issue that crops up a lot in HD makeovers is the carry over of sound, in that sometimes it suffers or glitches out. The Ratchet & Clank trilogy is no exception to that, but it’s also not as prevalent as in some other games. There are areas where things might go silent for a split second, or the sound lags a bit behind, but overall the game’s sound quality is decent and is generally clear. The characters’ voices all sound great so you don’t miss details, and showcases the rather well done voice acting for when the games were released.
What also carries over is the humour which still stands up. The relationship between the two title characters evolves well from their introduction, with Clank trying to be the know it all, while Ratchet grows from being annoyed at the situations he finds himself in to becoming used to heroism. Then you have the supporting cast like Captain Qwark, and the various other characters who do well to prop up the main two.
Overall The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy on Vita is a good port. You get three fun games that can last for ages if you want to do everything. There’s no major game breaking bug that I came across, but there are little things that can take a bit of enjoyment away. Those do eventually become easier to overlook and, once you do, you’ll rediscover a trilogy of games that helped build a franchise. It looks good, the humour remains persistent, and overall the collection is enjoyable. I’d recommend the trilogy if you want to get into the series, if you love the series or if you’re a fan of platforming titles.