The Ratchet & Clank series has been a mainstay of the PlayStation catalogue since the days of the PS2, instantly becoming one of my personal favourites with its 2002 debut. I have always looked forward to each new console generation’s dip into the vibrant, wacky, and diverse galaxies of Ratchet & Clank, and the PS5 will be no different. With the release of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart scheduled for June this year, those early glimpses have teased us with seamless dimension-hopping antics and an incredibly polished looking platforming experience.
As we count down the days until the next Ratchet & Clank, I’ve embarked on a space-faring odyssey to rank every one of the duo’s adventures thus far, from the series’ original heyday to its remarkable 2016 reboot.
15 – Before The Nexus | 2013
Hardly deserving of its own place in this list (but I’m a completionist) Ratchet & Clank: Before The Nexus is an endless-runner style mobile game for iOS and Android. Little more than Temple Run with a coat of R&C paint, it’s plagued with clunky controls and none of the tight, polished gameplay that has kept even the least imaginative entries in the mainline series engaging. I wouldn’t bother, even if it still is available to download.
14 – Full Frontal Assault (Q-Force) | 2012
Essentially a Ratchet & Clank tower defence game with a few more bells and whistles, this disappointing title brings none of the sprawling, imaginative level design showcased by the best entries of the series, opting instead for self-contained, arena style levels. The tower defence twist is certainly intriguing though Q-Force ultimately makes for a stressful experience devoid of the same charm and exploration-driven gameplay R&C fans have come to love.
13 – Going Mobile | 2005
A surprisingly solid entry, Going Mobile is a 2D mobile platformer that predates smartphones. Back in the infancy of mobile gaming, Ratchet & Clank: Going Mobile boasted tight gameplay and impressive design for the basic hardware, and a decent amount of content, boasting R&C’s trademark wacky humour. In spite of its limitations, it’s still a fun distraction.
12 – All 4 One | 2010
Far from one of my favourites, but with plenty of fun to be had, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is another deviation from R&C’s tried and true formula. Designed primarily as a co-op experience, players take control of Ratchet, Clank, Captain Quark, and (strangely enough) Dr Nefarious to battle through linear, fixed-camera levels. Solidly made, and with all the heart of previous titles, but not quite what I come to R&C looking for.
11 – Ratchet: Deadlocked (Ratchet: Gladiator) | 2005
I know what you’re thinking – Where’s Clank? That’s exactly what I thought too when I first picked up the fourth entry in the mainline series. While it has much of that delicious R&C gameplay that I love, it’s missing one of the most important elements: Clank’s backpack forms. Without Ratchet’s trustiest of companions, you’re instead accompanied by two characterless ‘Combat Bots’. Deadlocked focuses on arena battles instead of galactic exploration. Ratchet’s redesigned armour also gave him a weirdly broad-shouldered look, which never sat right with me.
10 – Secret Agent Clank | 2008
This PSP title has the player taking control of Clank who is, for the most part, getting stuck into some amusing spy antics with some reasonably well realised stealth elements, all while using some inventive gadgets. Sadly the experience becomes a little disjointed with some less imaginative and pace-breaking segments taking control of Ratchet and Quark. Even that doesn’t keep this from being a fun little spy soiree.
9/8 – Into The Nexus/Quest For Booty | 2013, 2008
Alright, I’m cheating here a bit. I tend to think of these two Ratchet & Clank entries as DLC spin-offs, as short stories rather than full titles, so I’m happy lumping them together. Both are very solid, with gravity-manipulating and space-pirate flavouring respectively, and delivering exactly what the series does best. The only drawback, of course, is their length. Still, as stopgaps between bigger games in the series, they do an exemplary job.
7 – Size Matters | 2007
Another PSP title, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters makes an admirable effort at transferring everything we know and love about the series to a portable console. This handheld adventure isn’t higher on the list simply due to the inevitable limitations of the PSP console, a few unfortunate glitches and technical hiccups, but even so, a worthy addition to the series that still holds up remarkably well.
6 – Ratchet & Clank | 2016
I go back and forth on this one. Right now I’m in a generous mood, so I’ll sing its praises. Released to coincide with the 2016 movie adaptation (remember that?) this reboot/reimagining was the only R&C title released for PS4 and is definitely up there as being the most polished in terms of graphics and gameplay. It bowled over some of the staff here at TSA with Tuffcub awarding the game an unbeatable 10/10 in his review.
However, what disappoints me about this otherwise great game is that it, like the movie it’s based on, feels like the original game but with all the edges sanded off. A little too clean and shiny, a little bit Pixar, it’s a matter of taste, but I prefer my R&C with a bit of grit, thank you very much.
5 – Ratchet & Clank | 2002
The one that started it all. It’s easy to see why the franchise has had such longevity when you see where it came from, immediately throwing you into the imaginative and diverse Solana galaxy. Excellent level design, stellar voice acting, humorous writing, and a universe that seems dirty and lived-in. The only thing that brings the original down to this point in the list is the fact that the gameplay still had a few kinks that would only be figured out in later titles, most notably, the lack of a strafe function. Otherwise, it’s a classic for a very good reason.
4 – Going Commando (Ratchet & Clank 2/Locked & Loaded) | 2003
As sequels go, this is one hell of an effort. Ratchet & Clank 2 builds on everything the original game served up, expanding the universe to greater and wilder depths, bringing in even more crazy gadgets, a more rewarding sense of progression, and of course, the all-important strafing controls which helped smooth out that frenzied combat gameplay.
3/2 – Tools of Destruction/A Crack in Time | 2007, 2009
Yes, yes, I’m cheating again, but with good reason. I find it impossibly hard to choose between these two superb Ratchet & Clank games, both of them being PS3 mainline entries in the series. Exceptionally well put together experiences, with little to choose between the two of them, they evolved the R&C formula and kept the PlayStation exclusive franchise firmly in the spotlight years after the original PS2 trilogy. Although separated by unique features such as Tools of Destruction’s “Constructo” weapons and A Crack in Time’s clever time-bending Clank sections, I just can’t separate the two in my ranking. To me they represent both halves of a defining chapter in the Ratchet & Clank saga. A spectacular return to form after a couple of so-so experiments.
1 – Up Your Arsenal (Ratchet & Clank 3) | 2004
Here it is. The zenith of R&C. You know how we all hoped after Going Commando that the follow-up would continue to build on what had come before? Well, Ratchet & Clank 3 knocked it right out of the park.
More weapons, more gadgets, more vehicles, tightened gameplay, and a massive variety in mission type. It also had humour in spades, and introduced us to Dr Nefarious, probably the most over-the-top and compelling villain of the series. I’ve gone back to revisit this masterpiece many time, and it will always hold a place among my favourite games of all time.
We, like many PlayStation 5 owners, are waiting with bated breath to see more of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and get our hands on the game for its June release. Where will it slot into the rankings? Fingers crossed it’s at the pointier end.