Ratchet & Clank is a 3D platformer series that mixes third-person shooter and puzzling elements.
The franchise made a bold return to form with the latest Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. It’s explosive, bombastic, and a brilliant showcase of what the PlayStation 5 can do.
It’s time to look back on the entire series. New fans may find an older title to play across the 17 Ratchet & Clank titles. That’s nine main games, six spin-offs, one reboot, and one bundle.
The Ratchet & Clank Series
The platformer series debuted in 2002 as a PlayStation exclusive. It was a golden age of video games, as competing studios were launching genre-defining titles.
For example, Bethesda launched The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and changed the RPG genre for good. Blizzard launched Warcraft III, one of the most iconic RTS games of all time. And then, Rockstar premiered GTA: Vice City, part of the trilogy that re-defined open-world games.
Since its original debut, Insomniac Games has followed a similar formula. The characters can jump, run, glide and solve puzzles. They also use a wide arsenal of weapons for a directional third-person shooter. Additionally, there’s a staggering amount of locations, characters, and alien races. These elements were enough to present one of the best platforming sagas of all time.
The games follow the sci-fi adventures of Ratchet & Clank. Ratchet is a mechanic and the last of the Lombax kind. Clank is a sentient but slightly defective robot. Together, they travel the universe as heroes on increasingly over-the-top quests.
The main plot comes through two sagas. First, there’s the Original Saga, the first four games in the franchise. The Future Saga goes next, and it’s part of the same linear continuity. Lastly, Ratchet & Clank (2016) is a reboot, and there’re some extra spin-offs with little to no story.
Original Saga era
Ratchet & Clank – 2002
The original game debuted in 2002 for PlayStation 2 in North America. It sets the series’s formula, weapons, tools, characters, locations, and alien races. Moreover, it set the comedic, lighthearted tone of the franchise.
Supreme Executive Chairman Drek is the first villain in the series. He plans to take over other planets across the Solana Galaxy to create a new world for his people, the Blarg. The Blarg race destroyed their plane due to pollution and overpopulation.
Even though the goal is noble, the process requires destroying other planets. Ratchet & Clank convince former hero Captain Qwark to help them stop the Chairman.
The game offers a wide arsenal of guns and gadgets. Players must combine the items to defeat the enemies and save the Solana Galaxy. There’re also several mini-games like hacking and racing required to complete the game. Lastly, it features space combat (just a Going Commando).
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando – 2003
Going Commando debuted in 2003 for PlayStation 2. It’s a direct sequel of the first game and features very similar gameplay and setting.
Megacorp CEO Mr. Abercrombie Fizzwidget is a new character. He lives on the Borgon Galaxy, and he hires Ratchet after the events of the first game. He provides the hero with commando training and sends him to retrieve a stolen artificial creature. Meanwhile, Clank stays back as an accountant for Megacorp. However, he will need rescuing soon, so he also joins the greater adventure.
Angela Cross is also a new character. She joins Ratchet on the adventure, looking to unravel a conspiracy behind Megacorp’s project.
For novelties, the game added new weapons, armor, and vendors.
Ratchet & Clank: Up your Arsenal – 2004
Up Your Arsenal debuted in 2004 for PS2. In some countries, the title premiered as “Ratchet & Clank 3.” It’s distinct from previous games by introducing bigger worlds, vehicles, and better combat.
The “Tyhrranoids” humanoid race is invading the Solana Galaxy. Dr. Nefarious enters as the series’ main villain, a robotic evil genius leading a war against all biological life.
Ratchet & Clank make a return as the galaxy heroes. Other allies include Starship Phoenix captain Sasha Phyronix. Additionally, Captain Qwark comes back as a playable character in the “Vid-Comics” mini-game.
The third entry retains the weapon XP/upgrade system, but the rest of the combat gameplay stays the same. There’re new mini-games, like the “Vid-Comics,” where you can relive the adventures of Captain Qwark. Lastly, the title introduced a 4-player split-screen co-op and an 8-player online play on different game modes.
Ratchet & Clank: Deadlocked – 2005
Deadlocked debuted in 2005 for PlayStation 2. It’s different from past games as it reduces puzzles and platforming to focus on combat.
The title heavily emphasizes arena combat settings, fast mobility, weapon upgrades, and a wider arsenal than ever. Also, Clank is not present in the game, albeit it’s a playable character on local co-op.
The plot is about Ratchet rescuing clank from media mogul Gleeman Vox. He searches on a lawless region of the Solana Galaxy, the Shadow Sector. To ensure Clank’s survival, he needs to compute on a bloodsport known as Dreadzone.
Ratchet & Clank: Going Mobile – 2005 (Spin-off)
Going Mobile is a Sony Pictures Mobile 2D spin-off. It debuted for mobile phones in 2005.
The plot transports the leading characters into a cell phone via the “MCGuFIN” artifact. They have to fight their way out into the real world.
The gameplay is about collecting titanium bolts to upgrade weapons and defeating enemies. There’s an upgrade meter for each gun, and there’re four enemies in the game. However, the title has no sound except the menu.
Future Saga era
Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters – 2006 (Spin-off)
Size Matters is a spin-off game, although it debuted as “Ratchet & Clank 5” in Japan. High Impact Games created the title, and it debuted for the PSP and the PlayStation 2 in 2006.
The story features Ratchet & Clank on vacation. Suddenly, though, they are rushing to rescue a kidnapped girl from a forgotten race, the Technomites.
Its gameplay features space (as in the original two games). However, instead of a ship, players control “Giant Clank,” as well as a multitude of vehicles. Clank can also control various Gadgebots to perform tasks for him. Lastly, the game features a wide arsenal of weapons players can upgrade.
Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction – 2007
Tools of Destruction debuted in 2007 for PlayStation 3. It opens the Future Trilogy.
The game introduces the self-crowned prince of the Cragmites, Emperor Tachyon. He’s after Ratchet because he claims he’s the last Lombax in the universe. Meanwhile, Ratchet and Clank start a journey to uncover the history of the Lombax race.
Clank plays a bigger role this time. There’s a race of tiny creatures only Clank can see, the Zoni. The race explains they built Clank for a special purpose. Moreover, they grant Clank new abilities to help Ratchet.
These abilities open new gameplay mechanics. For instance, Clank’s playable sections allow you to use a Zoni energy beam. He can also use energy to open doors, slow time, and levitate. In addition, players can find Raritanium to upgrade weapons further, use new tools, and wear armor.
Secret Agent Clank – 2008 (Spin-off)
Secret Agent Clank is a High Impact Games spin-off. It debuted for the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 2 in 2008.
The title is a James Bond spoof platformer. Yet, the gameplay takes elements from Up Your Arsenal. The result is a Clank that uses several gadgets and devices hidden in his tuxedo.
Its gameplay is about brief puzzles and platforming sections. There’re also minor melee combat segments, as well as quick-time events.
Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty – 2008
Quest for Booty debuted in 2008 for the PlayStation 3. It’s the second entry in the Future saga. It’s a short game intended for the PlayStation Network, though, so it doesn’t feel like a fully-fledged Ratchet & Clank entry.
Ratchet and Talwyn are searching for Clank after the ending of the last game. They fight their way through pirates and receive help from the Zoni race to find their friends.
The gameplay focuses on puzzle-solving and platforming. There’re also new features, like picking and moving things with the Omniwrench Millennium 12 tool.
Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time – 2009
A Crack in Time debuted in 2009 for PlayStation 3. It represents a change of pace by Insomniac Games by introducing time-tricks mechanics.
Additionally, the game features the widest maps in the series so far. It allowed players to travel between planets via Ratchet’s spaceship. That means players could return to optional challenges, collectibles, and more. There’s also more focus on weapon upgrades, so a reason to come back to previous planets with finding more Raritarium.
Ratchet continues searching for Clank, whereas Dr. Nefarious returns as the main antagonist. However, the story alternates perspectives between Ratchet and Clank.
Clank’s side of the story revolves around fixing time and fulfilling his purpose as the Great Clock’s Senior Caretaker. Ratchet’s role is meeting a Lombax General and learning the story of his race. The General feels responsible for the Lombax fall, and he’s looking to use the Clock to rectify the mistakes.
Both parts feature new gameplay mechanics. For example, the Chronoscepter is a staff that repairs broken objects and does melee damage. There’re also “time pads,” which allow Clank to record a minute of his actions, and then a holographic Clank can replay it to help the real one solve puzzles.
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One – 2011 (Spin-off)
All 4 One debuted in 2011 for PlayStation 3. It’s the third spin-off within the Future series.
The game features online multiplayer plus a 4 player co-op feature. It uses a drop-in/drop-out design and either online/offline game modes. The game focuses on co-op play, as teammates need to solve puzzles and defeat players together.
That said, playable characters are Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark, and Dr. Nefarious. If no other players tag along, the AI will control Clank. If you play as Clank, Qwark is your AI partner.
The story is about Ratchet and Clank retired from their adventures while Captain Qwark became the Galactic President. However, a new plot by Dr. Nefarious forces sets a dangerous creature amok. Now, the four protagonists must work as a team to stop the Light-Eating Z’Grute.
Ratchet & Clank Collection – 2012 (Bundle)
The Collection packs:
- Ratchet & Clank (Remaster)
- Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (Remaster)
- Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (Remaster)
These remastered versions come in 720p HD resolution, 60 FPS, and stereoscopic 3D support at 30 fps. It’s currently not available on the PS4 or the PS5.
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault – 2012 (Spin-off)
Full Frontal Assault premiered in 2012 for the PlayStation Network, available for the PS3. It’s also available for the PlayStation Vita.
This game lacks a proper story, and it’s quite short and simple. In essence, it’s a tower defense deviation. You play as Ratchet, and the goal is defending against enemies over 5 levels and 3 different planets.
Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus – 2013
Into the Nexus debuted in 2013 for PlayStation 3. It’s the final installment of the Future series, and it’s iconic for its inclusion of unique and exotic locations and hilarious gadgets.
Ratchet & Clank, aboard the Nebulox Prison Ship, receive a mission by Talwyn Apogee. They have to deliver the notorious criminal Vendra Prog to a detention center. However, the mission goes array, and the criminal and his twin escape. The protagonist duo most pursues the twins across the galaxy.
The entry introduced gravity-based platforming. Additionally, it added 2D puzzle segments where you play as Clank in the Netherverse dimensional realm.
Other new elements include new weapons and gadgets. For example, the Winterizer gun creates freezing tornados. Or the Nightmare Box, a tool that scares enemies.
Ratchet & Clank: Before the Nexus – 2013 (Spin-off)
Before the Nexus is a mobile companion app for Into the Nexus. It debuted in 2013 for iOS and Android.
It was an endless runner title like Temple Run or Subway Surfers. The character collects bolts and defeats enemies infinitely as a promotion for Into the Nexus.
Ratchet & Clank (2016) is a reboot of the series. It debuted for PlayStation 4, but it currently has no sequel.
The game re.-imagines the first game and brings back the classic gameplay elements. It’s also a companion of the 2016 Ratchet & Clank movie. If you didn’t know about the movie, it’s because it wasn’t very good.
The 2016 reboot adds new characters, but it follows the same storyline as the original title. For example, Ratchet meets Clank early on, a defective robot discarded from a factory. Ratchet pretends he’s a galactic ranger to his new friend, and the lie becomes a reality when the duo saves their homeworld from Drek’s plot.
Gameplay-wise, the game shares the same mechanics and characteristics as the original series. Both characters are playable, and they travel through diverse exotic environments by using tools and weapons.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart – 2020
Rift Apart debuted in 2020 for PlayStation 5. It takes advantage of the PS5 to showcase what new-gen consoles can do. AS a result, there’re no loading screens in the whole game; it has cinematic ray tracing effects; and loads several instances simultaneously, at any moment.
That allows the player to jump between areas, rifts, or dimensions instantly. It’s how Insomniac Games married gameplay, technology, and story to bring a genre-defining game.
Also, it’s part of the Future saga and part of something new. That’s because newcomers can jump into the game and follow its events entirely. At the same time, the title shares connections with the previous main entries. Perhaps Insomniac is looking to open up a new saga after Rift Apart.
The plot has the titular characters traveling across realities to stop Doctor Nefarious. Nefarious and an alternate version of himself is exploiting a dimensional collapse to exterminate all organic life. Meanwhile, alternate versions of Ratchet & Clank help the long-time heroes.
Gameplay mechanics are similar to previous games but better than ever. There’re weapons, weapon upgrades, several enemy types, a plethora of mini-games and puzzles, collectibles, vendors, side quests, and more. Also, similar to A Crack in Time, players can come back to previous locations via their spaceship.
Every Ratchet & Clank Game in Chronological Order
- Ratchet & Clank – 2002
- Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando – 2003
- Ratchet & Clank: Up your Arsenal – 2004
- Ratchet & Clank: Deadlocked – 2005
- Ratchet & Clank: Going Mobile – 2005 (Spin-off)
- Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters – 2006 (Spin-off)
- Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction – 2007
- Secret Agent Clank – 2008 (Spin-off)
- Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty – 2008
- Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time – 2009
- Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One – 2011 (Spin-off)
- Ratchet & Clank Collection – 2012 (Bundle)
- Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault – 2012 (Spin-off)
- Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus – 2013
- Ratchet & Clank: Before the Nexus – 2013 (Spin-off)
- Ratchet & Clank – 2016 (Reboot)
- Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart – 2020