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This Day in PlayStation History – Ratchet & Clank

The Solona galaxy, home to a smattering of weird, wonderful and downright bizarre planets and, perhaps most important of all, Ratchet and Clank, the spacefaring heroes of Insomniac’s cherished PlayStation franchise.

Coming off the one-two punch of a rather excellent franchise revival and a spinoff feature film, 2016 will be a year to remember for fans of the 3D platforming series and on this, November 4, it’s time to reflect on the story behind Ratchet & Clank to commemorate the franchise’s 14th anniversary here in North America — the first installment touched down across the pond on November 8, for the sake of comparison.

A Toast, to Bona Fide Mascots

Welcome to This Day in PlayStation History, your window into the archives of all things PlayStation. In the time since this original feature began, we’ve placed the spotlight on entire franchises, industry icons such as Hideo Kojima and Nolan North, and bona fide gaming mascots. But after chronicling the stories behind Sly Cooper and Crash Bandicoot, it’s time to welcome a certain Lombax and sentient — and ruddy snarky! — Zoni robot into the mix.

For on November 4, 2002, Insomniac Games rolled out a humble platforming title known as Ratchet & Clank and with it came the newest additions to the genre’s colorful family. In tracing the series’ roots back to the point of origin, we discover that the studio began drafting up ideas for R&C — then known as I5 (Insomniac game #5) — upon wrapping up work on their Spyro the Dragon franchise.

Releasing in and around the same window as both Sly Cooper and Jak and Daxter, Naughty Dog actually approached Insomniac early on in development to negotiate an agreement that would allow the studio to utilize ND’s game technology — environment renderers and the like — when constructing Ratchet & Clank, with the condition being that the developer report any feedback and/or improvements back to Naughty Dog. Insomniac agreed, and in reflecting on the arrangement, CEO Ted Price admitted that said deal provided “a huge leg up and allowed us to draw the enormous vistas in the game.”

Greatness from small beginnings, as a certain swashbuckling treasure hunter would say, and the Ratchet & Clank franchise has gone on to spawn a total of 14 releases in as many years. They haven’t all been slam dunks — All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault spring to mind as examples when the series lost its way — but part of what makes Ratchet & Clank so endearing is that buddy cop dynamic at its core. The delightfully ludicrous arsenal helps, too, and ridiculously satisfying weapons have become a hallmark of Insomniac Games, a trait that courses through the veins of Sunset Overdrive, the Resistance series, and much more.

If the Ratchet & Clank series strayed from the beaten path with recent instalments, the 2016 remake corrected course in remarkable fashion. Toeing the line between reboot and full-blown franchise revival, it carried all of the R&C heritage — the light-hearted humor, the crisp gameplay, the impossibly powerful weapons — and wrapped it in a beautiful package for PS4 users. Heck, 2016’s Ratchet & Clank is also one of the games in line to receive PS4 Pro support in the coming days. That HD overhaul spawned a feature film, too, though as is so often the case for video game movie adaptations, Kevin Munroe’s CG romp fared poorly across the board.

By stark contrast, the game, based on the movie, based on the game earned close to unanimous approval earlier this year, and welcomed the debut of Ratchet & Clank on PS4 with all the humor, style and intoxicating fun the series is celebrated for. Where does Insomniac take things from here? That’s something the studio is deliberating as we speak, but the fact that the 2016 remake stands as the fastest-selling entry in the series leads us to believe that the road doesn’t end here.

So who knows? What we do know is that Ratchet & Clank games are incredibly fun to make. There is intense passion at Insomniac for the universe and its characters. There are stories to tell, weapons to design, creatures to sculpt, planets to explore. And most significantly, there is a team of talented people here who have come through time and again to deliver games that are full of life and ambition. Above all, that’s why the series endures.

November 4, 2002. More than a decade ago, Insomniac Games hatched a spacefaring buddy-cop duo for the ages. The Ratchet & Clank series has no doubt persevered through peaks and troughs, but when the platformer is firing on all cylinders — as was the case back in April — few video games strike that harmony between razor-sharp mechanics and rip-roaring fun.

Now at the helm of the untitled Spider-Man PS4, the jury’s still out on what Insomniac has planned for the future of the Ratchet & Clank series. Whatever the outcome, we’ll be there, OmniWrench in hand, ready to restore peace to the Solona galaxy once more.

Upon reflecting on Insomniac’s 3D platformer, what are your favorite memories from the Ratchet & Clank series? And, perhaps the most pertinent question of all, where do you believe the franchise will go next?

This Day in PlayStation History is a new and recurring feature here on PlayStation LifeStyle that will be acting as your window into the archives of all things PlayStation — birthdays, anniversaries, milestones and more.