Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is my most anticipated next-generation game so far. And it has me thinking about one of my favorite PlayStation 3 games.
I’m not the world’s biggest Ratchet & Clank fan. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed all of the games in the series that I’ve played. But I also have not gone through great lengths to play through all of them. Of the those I’ve played, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time is easily my favorite.
A Crack in Time released for the PS3 in 2009. Before I start praising it, I want to start with something trivial. I love using the word “future” as a tag in a title. Be it in Jet Set Radio Future, Steven Universe Future, or whatever. Sorry, “adventure,” “forever,” and “returns” — nothing beats “future.”
Time for fun
Now, let’s get more serious. Like every other game in the series, A Crack in Time features a fun blend of 3D platforming and shooting action. To me, Ratchet & Clank is the 3D Mega Man series we never got (don’t get me started on Mega Man Legends … that’s for another time). And just like with Mega Man, each Ratchet & Clank game features an arsenal of creative weapons.
What makes A Crack in Time special? First off, it has these incredible puzzle segments. For most of the game, Ratchet and Clank aren’t together. While the Ratchet sections play as you’d expect, the Clank levels focus on creating copies of yourselves and using time-bending abilities to solve puzzles. It’s easier to understand if you see it.
I love these sections. Puzzle-based gameplay like this is tricky to pull off. It’s hard to offer something challenging without making it too frustrating. But these Clank levels are creative and wild while being logical. I never tired of them.
But Ratchet’s levels also see some surprises. Along with the typical worlds you adventure in as you go through the story, you can explore the galaxy in a spaceship, finding small planets and moons that offer special rewards and interesting challenges. It offers a level of exploration beyond what the franchise usually delivers.
Even the story is memorable, which is a rare accomplishment for 3D platformers. Both Ratchet and Clank confront mysteries about their past, and Dr. Nefarious serves as a humorous yet threatening villain. He also delivers a memorable final boss fight that features some of the best rail-grinding I’ve seen in a 3D platformer (sorry, Sonic Adventure 2). Dr. Nefarious is returning in Rift Apart, which is another reason why I’m looking forward to it.
While I’m not a Ratchet & Clank expert, A Crack in Time is the series’ high mark for me. I’m hoping that Rift Apart can rise above it, but it’ll need more than fast loading times and insane graphical fidelity to do that. It’ll have to match the creativity and charm of one of the best 3D platformers ever made.
The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.