The Playstation 2 was home to two sets of fun and cartoony genre-hybrid mascot platformer franchises, both of which featured a duo of comprised of wacky personalities. One is Jak and Daxter, a franchise generally inspired by fantasy though that deviated somewhat starting with the second game.
The other is Ratchet and Clank, more grounded in technology and set in the future, where planet-hopping is a norm. But this vision of the future, and the franchise in general, is not mired in a dour dystopian tone. Ratchet and Clank is a series full of personality that brought something that can’t be seen elsewhere. Unlike the Jak and Daxter franchise which has comparatively fewer releases, the Ratchet and Clank series has seen way more games in its library thus far, but we have to wonder what lies in store for the future. The last release was the 2016 reimagining of the first game. With its future seemingly uncertain, let’s take a look at the franchise thus far and try to discuss what comes next for the space-faring heroes.
The games that Ratchet and Clank are probably most known for are an “original trilogy” of games that released on the Playstation 2, starting with the eponymous debut title Ratchet and Clank on the Playstation 2. It established a lot of what the franchise is most known for, including access to a wide variety of weapons which can be switched between, and traveling between planets. The basis for the plot of the first game involves fighting against the evil Chairman Drek, who seeks to take pieces of other planets to form a new planet. Following this was Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, which sees the duo recognized as heroes after their adventures in the first game, and “recruited” by Abercrombie Fizzwidget, the CEO of MegaCorp, to retrieve a stolen experiment.
This sees the two lifted out of their home galaxy of Solana and transported to the Bogon Galaxy. Going Commando introduced hoverbike races and an experience-based weapon leveling-up system based on how often a weapon was used. The third title in the initial trilogy – Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal – released shortly soon after, and sees the Solana Galaxy being invaded by Dr. Nefarious and the Tyrrhanoids. It also introduces online multiplayer modes, while forgoing the spaceship battles and racing minigames of the previous title. Following this initial trilogy of games on the PS2 was Ratchet: Deadlocked, wherein Ratchet is captured and forced to participate in the DreadZone, a vicious and illegal gladiator sport, being held in the unsavory Shadow Sector of the Solana Galaxy. The game is widely known for having a darker tone than the previous games, with Clank absent as a companion and thereby reducing the puzzles and platforming seen in previous titles.
The previously listed four games were all released one by one, one year after another, from 2002 to 2005. After this original saga of games would come the Future Saga, a set of mainline titles released on the Playstation 3. The first title in the Future series is Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction, in which Ratchet is pursued by Emperor Percival Tachyon of the Cragmites, who sees the Lombax, a race of which Ratchet belongs to, as a threat. Tachyon and Rachet end up in pursuit of the “Lombax Secret”, and whoever discovers it would have great power in changing the course of the war that Tachyon is waging. Next in the Future saga is Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty, which despite being a mainline title is actually significantly shorter than most other titles, running at a few hours for a standard playthrough. At the end of Tools of Destruction, Clank, who has been frequently interacting with alien energy-beings called Zoni in Tools of Destruction, has been separated from Ratchet and taken to another dimension.
Ratchet, along with Talwyn Apogee from Tools of Destruction, set out to retrieve Clank; as such, this game features gameplay without Clank as Ratchet‘s companion. The next title in the Future saga, Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, continues where Quest for Booty left off; Clank is malfunctioning while as a captive of the Zoni, and Dr. Nefarious returns, setting out to repurpose Clank. The game alternates between gameplay sections featuring both Ratchet and Clank. The plot also revolves around the Great Clock, which is found at the center of the universe and stabilizes time, and the Great Clock is of interest to varying parties for different personal purposes. The last entry in the Future series is Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus.
When Ratchet and Clank are initially tasked to escort a dangerous criminal, the mission goes awry when the apprehended Vendra’s sibling, Neftin, attacks the ship containing her, with the resulting conflict seeing the loss of the lives of two of Ratchet and Clank‘s friends. The story revolves around the conflict between our heroic duo and the evil siblings, and features an emphasis on weapons and gameplay that rely on manipulating gravity.
The previously described eight titles are developed by Insomniac Games (known for such games as the first three Spyro the Dragon games on Playstation, and more recently for Marvel’s Spider-Man,) and are the mainline Ratchet and Clank games, but Ratchet and Clank has also featured several spinoff titles. The first Ratchet and Clank spinoff is Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters, released for the PSP and PS2 in 2007 and 2008 respectively, and developed by High Impact Games. Secret Agent Clank also released for the PSP and PS2 in 2008 and 2009 respectievly, with High Impact Games again helming development duties. Insomniac Games would later develop the 2011 release Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One for the Playstation 3, notable for its emphasis on co-op gameplay, online or offline.
Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault released for the PS3 and PSVita in 2012 and 2013 respectively. It incorporated tower-defense gameplay as an important part of the game experience, and was an Insomniac Games project meant to highlight the 10th anniversary of the first game’s release. These spinoffs aside, there have also been two mobile games: the 2005 title Ratchet and Clank: Going Mobile (for mobile phones, not the iOS and Android experiences we are familiar with today), and 2013’s Ratchet and Clank: Before the Nexus, for iOS and Android platforms. Going Mobile is a greatly simplified version of traditional Ratchet and Clank gameplay, and almost received a sequel before it was cancelled, while Before the Nexus was an endless runner, released shortly after Into the Nexus to promote that fourth and last title in the Future series.
Raritarium collected in Before the Nexus could also be transferred to Into the Nexus. Besides these spinoff titles, the first three games in the Ratchet and Clank franchise (Ratchet and Clank, Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, and Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal,) were later released as the Ratchet and Clank Collection for the PS3 in 2012 and the Vita in 2014.
The 2016 re-imagining for PS4, the last Ratchet and Clank release to date, saw Insomniac Games return as developers. Ratchet & Clank 2016 is a game that mostly adheres to the plot threads (pitting the newly-acquainted duo against Chairman Drek), world building and gameplay progression of the first title, although many new elements are tweaked and upgraded, striking a balance between evoking nostalgia and creating a new and distinct experience altogether. Its release coincided with a Ratchet and Clank movie, which should stand as testament to the assumed power of the franchise (minus the part where the movie wasn’t well-received, both at the box office and with reviewers on average.)
So what is next for the franchise? When asked in an interview with PlayStationLifeStyle in 2017, about a new Ratchet and Clank title, Insomniac stated that they didn’t have anything to share at the time. With one major release in Marvel’s Spider-Man finally completed, it might hopefully free up more time and resources to be devoted to Ratchet and Clank as a franchise. There’s not much else that can be said or read about regarding the IP’s future; Insomniac seems open to working on the IP again, and the 2016 re-imagining was successful.
Recently, on the latest episode of his Knockback podcast, former IGN and Kinda Funny editor Colin Moriarty got to talking about Ratchet and Clank, before cryptically adding, “You haven’t seen the last of Ratchet & Clank on the PS4″. In short, there is some hope after all.
It’s all just a matter of whether or not it…happens. Thankfully, rather than treating the idea as a wild shot in the dark, a new Ratchet and Clank game is believably possible. The introduction of the PS5, whenever it will happen, may make the timeframe of a new game’s release a major question mark, however. So tell us what you think – will there be a new Ratchet and Clank game? Should it wait for PS5, or must it arrive on the PS4, with perhaps a cross-gen release later down the line? How about another Ratchet and Clank movie?