Insomniac Games first introduced the unlikely duo of Ratchet and Clank back in 2002 on the PlayStation 2. Since then, the series has taken audiences on a journey that has spanned not just an entire galaxy, but multiple dimensions, with its most recent outings.
To celebrate the successful launch of Rift Apart, we've decided to look back at the franchise to rank all the iconic pair's adventures from the worst up to the very best.
Ratchet & Clank: Before the Nexus (2013)
Before the Nexus was a product of its time. It was released back in 2013 for Android and iOS as an endless runner in a sea of similar titles. Had it not had the name Ratchet & Clank attached to it, most probably wouldn't have bothered downloading the game.
In terms of significance, Before the Nexus was released to help promote the then-upcoming Into the Nexus as a prequel to the game.
Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters (2007)
Size Matters was the first spin-off game in the Ratchet & Clank series. It was developed by High Impact Games for the PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation 2 with similar gameplay to the mainline titles. It even featured the likes of space combat, weapon upgrading, and a new game+ mode.
Unfortunately, the overall execution of these concepts was largely forgettable. Hence, the ranking.
Ratchet & Clank: Going Mobile (2005)
Going Mobile was the series' first attempt at going, well, mobile. It puts the titular duo in an adventure where the two are trapped inside the McGuFFin. The two must then have to shoot their way out. The ending paved the way for a sequel, Clone Home, but it was eventually canceled due to the lukewarm reviews of Going Mobile.
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (2011)
The basic premise of All 4 One looked good on paper. It was meant to be a four-player co-op game that let players take control of Captain Qwark and Dr. Nefarious. Unfortunately, while everything else about All 4 One was good, the actual gameplay was just downright atrocious.
All 4 One lacked any meaningful progression, had mediocre gunplay, and the level design was uninspired. It didn't have the series' signature exploration nor platforming either. To make matters worse, the weapons don't level up and all you basically do is just hold down the fire button and that's it. It's a mindless game that didn't pose any challenge at any point at all.
Secret Agent Clank (2008)
Secret Agent Clank is a divisive title. Many hated it simply because it didn't let you play as Ratchet. Many loved it because it was fun sneaking around as Clank, disguising yourself as other enemy robots, and overall not just shooting your way through obstacles.
Unfortunately, even those that loved playing Secret Agent Clank hated how hard it tried to become so much bigger than it was.
The developers tried to shove in all sorts of gameplay ideas for Secret Agent Clank, which ultimately just didn't work out. Had High Impact Games focused on what made the game fun (fewer minigames and more sneaking around), Secret Agent Clank could have ranked much higher. It probably would've even released a sequel on the PS3 or even the PS4.
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault (2012)
Full Frontal Assault was the worst good Ratchet & Clank game and it's not just because it had performance issues at launch.
For the most part, Full Frontal Assault played just like how you'd expect a Ratchet & Clank game would. Insomniac Games put a lot of effort into making Full Frontal Assault look and play well. The rich and unique environmental detail of each planet in Full Frontal Assault will make you look forward to visiting each planet featured in the game.
Unfortunately, as good as Full Frontal Assault was, it's a rather brief experience. It eventually gets tiring having to redo all three planets, no matter how beautiful each one looked.
To make matters worse, it fails at being a competent tower-defense title at every level.
Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty (2008)
Quest for Booty was released as a standalone expansion to Tools of Destruction for the PlayStation 3 back in 2008. It follows up directly on the events of Tools of Destruction as it sees Ratchet and Talwyn battle pirates, jumping between ships as they seek out treasures, all the while looking for Clank.
While these are all good and all, Quest for Booty would've been better if it was a DLC content instead of a standalone title. This way, players could jump directly to playing Quest for Booty from Tools of Destruction without having to lose their full arsenal. It would also help make the unoriginal fights from Quest for Booty more understandable since it would've made it clearer that it wasn't a full game.
Quest for Booty's lone saving grace is the fact that it took advantage of the gameplay mechanics of Tools of Destruction, making gunfights entertaining with smooth movements.
Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus (2013)
Into the Nexus was a weird title. It's not necessarily a bad Ratchet & Clank game. It wasn't good either. It felt as if Insomniac Games was trying to innovative while also feeling tired of working on the same franchise for a good decade at that point.
On one hand, Into the Nexus introduced Gravity Boot platforms and Grav-Tether to pave the way for additional ways to move around and explore the environment. The game also added expanded weapon trees and made it fun for players to play around with their arsenal of weapons. However, there weren't really that too many new weapons introduced and the game only had four planets for you to explore.
Perhaps it comes off as no surprise that Insomniac Games stopped making new Ratchet & Clank games after the release of Into the Nexus in 2013.
Ratchet & Clank (2016)
The 2016 remake of the original Ratchet & Clank was Insomniac Games' way of reintroducing the series to an entirely new generation of gamers. However, the result was a complete dumbing down of Ratchet as a character while also removing the fun banter that made the pairing of Ratchet and Clank so memorable in the original games.
In fact, the two of them end up liking each other from the get-go in the reboot. This meant that modern audiences weren't able to wear witness to the two ultimately finding a way to settle their differences and work together.
To make matters worse, Ratchet & Clank had a largely forgettable movie adaptation.
If it's any consolation, the so-so reception of the 2016 reboot might have been what pushed Insomniac Games to go back to working on Ratchet & Clank games again.
Ratchet: Deadlocked (2005)
Ratchet: Deadlocked was the series' first attempt to prove that it wasn't shy of reinventing itself. Instead of the duo, Ratchet featured, well, just Ratchet. It also used a level-based structure where players had to complete an objective first before they could move on to the next one. Although it was a stark departure from the previous titles' open-world exploration, it worked because of the engaging challenges and the darker atmosphere.
Admittedly, Deadlocked can get formulaic. Players will often find themselves revisiting arena hubs with little changes from previous encounters. The game also offered few challenges outside of the first playthrough, which meant that it had little endgame content to offer.
Still, it takes a while for Deadlocked to get repetitive and boring. Until you reach that point, Deadlocked was a fun game with intense combat encounters that were further improved by the excellent use of the darker soundtrack.
Ratchet & Clank (2002)
Is the original Ratchet & Clank game outdated? Yes. After all, it was released back in 2002. Is it good? Definitely. Even though it is showing its age, the original Ratchet & Clank game remains a memorable title that had some of the most gorgeous environments in the series.
Most might think of the Ratchet & Clank games as child-friendly video games, but the first Ratchet & Clank had its fair share of terrifying and creepy robots.
It's hard to forget your first time exploring Outpost X11 as you burned your way through creepy robots, or that time that you had to make your way outside the crumbling city of Oltanis as enemies bombarded you with one explosive after another.
So long as you're okay with the tank controls, the original Ratchet & Clank is a trip well worth taking.
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (2003)
Going Commando is the perfect example of how you do a sequel right. It took everything good about the original Ratchet & Clank, adding strafing while aiming, and let players level up weapons the more that they were used. It also didn't hurt that Going Commando boasts the series' largest arsenal, so you have plenty of toys to tinker around with and great fights to put them to the test.
The Impossible Challenge, for example, put you up against 60 waves of enemies, which definitely isn't easy to do. It's also this challenging gameplay aspect that made the final boss of Going Commando such a big disappointment.
For a game that prided itself in giving players a challenge, Going Commando introduced an underwhelming final villain. The boss had a simple move set that's made worse with a bad ending. Despite this glaring flaw, Going Command remains one of the best Ratchet & Clank games ever released.
Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (2007)
2007's Tools of Destruction was when Insomniac Games went absolutely bonkers, or so to speak.
From the casual banter of the space pirate crew to the interactions between Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac Games brought their A-game for Tools of Destruction. It also gave the duo their first serious conflict as they end up uncovering more about their pasts, which eventually led to A Crack in Time (more on this later on).
While Tools of Destruction didn't have the expansive arsenal of Going Commando, it did feature more challenging combat encounters. It forced you to think on your feet and dodge enemy bullets while also knowing when to retaliate as you had to conserve your ammo and learn to use the right weapons to overcome specific enemies.
Speaking of Going Commando, it definitely seemed like Insomniac Games learned from it with Tools of Destruction as it had the hardest final boss in the entire series.
Intensely challenging and downright hilarious, Tools of Destruction is a must-play.
Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (2004)
In terms of weapon selection, animation, and sound design, Up Your Arsenal was proof that the third time is the proverbial charm.
Not that the first two Ratchet & Clank games were bad. As you might already know by now, they are classic that remains just as good today as they were when they were first released. However, what Up Your Arsenal did was pave the way for the other ways. Numerous weapons such as the Flux Rifle, Annihilator, Plasma Whip, Infector, Disc Blade Gun, Shield Charger, and Rift Inducer, have all appeared in subsequent titles in one way or another.
What made Up Your Arsenal even more memorable was that it introduced the mad scientist known as Dr. Nefarious, who has since become the main villain of the series.
Nefarious' showing in Up Your Arsenal was the perfect outing. It showcased just how cartooney he was and how serious he is about his plans on turning all organic life into mechanic robots like him.
On top of this, Up Your Arsenal also introduced other series staples such as the Starship Phoenix, VR training, the Qwark vid-comics, and the unique open areas that players could explore using flying ships and vehicles that made countless hours of good ol' arcadey fun.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (2021)
Rift Apart represents Insomniac Games' readiness to introduce the Ratchet & Clank franchise to the next generation of gamers.
A follow-up to A Crack in Time, the PS5-exclusive title introduced new arcs and followed up on the present narrative of the series. It also gave audiences their first taste of a new playable character in years with Rivet, whose witty charm was the highlight of the entire game.
Of course, Rift Apart wouldn't be one of the best Ratchet & Clank games if it didn't have a diverse arsenal for you to use and the well-executed gunplay to match. As a bonus, Rift Apart represents the series' best-looking outing yet as it took full advantage of the power of the PlayStation 5 by giving certain environments unprecedented levels of detail.
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (2009)
A Crack in Time represents the franchise at its peak. Even though it's been more than a decade since it was first released, A Crack in Time has aged well due to its engrossing narrative and open-world structure that feels like it belongs with some of today's best open-world titles.
We'll intentionally keep the story of A Crack in Time vague to encourage you to see it through yourself. However, we will tell you that it goes deep into the history of Ratchet & Clank. The story sees the two of them change and evolve as they realize that they are destined to achieve far more than the two of them could have ever thought.
Even if not for the story, A Crack in Time would've still made it to the top of our list because of its engaging open-world levels that are such a joy to explore.
Rift Apart might have had the advantage of using the PS5's SSD, but A Crack in Time made do with the technology of its time in a way that very few games have since. The game gave players numerous ways to move through each planet with the sort of arena content that will have you scratching your head and even throwing your controllers to the wall in frustration due to how scarily good some enemies are.
Insomniac Games were also wise to let players hop on their ships and fly into space should they ever want to go on a long space trip.
Ultimately, A Crack in Time was an anomaly. It had no business being this good at the time of its release, but it is. It set the bar for all the Ratchet & Clank games that preceded and succeeded it, giving future titles the unenviable task of living up to the game's alluring environmental design, expansive arsenal, and an upgrade system that was just downright awesome to play around with.