Although long rumored, the revelation in the Playstation 5 presentation of a new installment of ‘Ratchet & Clank’, Insomniac’s beloved classic platform saga, surprised by its spectacularity and prodigious technical deployment. And in the context in which it was made, the presentation of a new console that can guide the creative and technological path taken by video games in the coming years, is still remarkable.
The spectacular trailer for ‘Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart’ showed the frantic walk of the lombax Ratchet and his tiny metal companion Clank through a series of dimensions interconnected with each other by portals. Not only did the game show off a display of particle effects and insane graphic delusions, it stunned viewers with virtually instantaneous transitions between completely different worlds from one another, with elements of one and the other adapting to new scenarios. Without a doubt, a clear and direct sample of the power of the SSD disk that has been talked about so much lately.
The singularity of the case is that the technical power of the game was evident, but retained all the tics of the classic games in the franchise, one of the most representative of the Sony exclusives on PS2 and PS3. The first ‘Ratchet & Clank’, from 2002, already wore one of the most defining characteristics of the saga: the impressive number of different weapons that Ratchet carried, in this case 36, as well as the mix of mechanics and mini-games that made the adventure more varied.
The success of the series generated a good number of sequels, one per year in its most successful moments. There came to be four ‘Ratchet …’ (some without Clank on board, when the furros started to be considered a child thing), and games on almost all Sony platforms: ‘Size Matters’ came out on PSP and’ Tools of Destruction ‘, in that same 2007, on PS3. Since 2013, Insomniac has been devoted to more adult-focused games, like ‘Sunset Overdrive’ or the acclaimed ‘Spider-Man’, but didn’t forget about the lombax and the robot, and there was only one foray into PS4 in 2016, in the form of reboot of the first game.
All of them maintained a series of constants that guaranteed that although each installment of the series brought enough surprises (not always pleasant, as when it was tried to take an “adult” turn regardless of Clank), a series of very recognizable. A new ‘Ratchet & Clank’ has always been a comfortable and familiar place, friendly games and with the right challenge, and always with ingredients that are repeated (the mini-games, the simple puzzles, the increasingly nourished weaponry). But they are also recognizable and familiar for another matter.
The hatching of 3D platforms
And that question is that ‘Ratchet & Clank’ represent like few others the spirit of 3D platform games. Titles that meant on PSOne and the early days of PS2 a whole large subgenre of simple, direct and accessible titles. It was the fastest and most direct way to immerse yourself in 3D environments, above the demanding and violent first-person shooter games. 3D platforming adventures had something of the classics but at the same time squeezed the 3D possibilities out of the machines of the nineties. They had everything to succeed.
Platform games are as old as the medium itself. One of the superstars of the genre, Super Mario, already laid the foundations of it in the primordial ‘Donkey Kong’, when platform games still could not boast of scroll. It would be the Nintendo plumber himself who would successively improve the style of tight jumps and ingenuity vs. gravitational force with his successive adventures in NES. And it was he himself, of course, who revolutionized the style by injecting him with three dimensions in ‘Super Mario 64’.
His appearance was simultaneous to that of another platformer hero: ‘Crash Bandicoot’ on PSOne, as well as experiments with platforms still as rudimentary as ‘Jumping Flash!’ for the first Playstation. But the great innovation of ‘Super Mario 64’ was in the controls, a true delicacy embodied in the revolutionary analog stick that allowed you to explore the stages with a freedom never seen before. The structure of the levels, divided into missions that unlock new areas, has been imitated to this day, and it was the template under which other highly successful platforms such as ‘Spyro the Dragon’, ‘Banjo-Kazooie’ or ‘Donkey Kong 64’.