Anyway, yeah. That. I wanted to dislike Ratchet & Clank so bad. I was pretty certain of my feelings. And then I played this reimagining of the series' origins, and... ow.
Back in the day, I never understood Ratchet & Clank's appeal. Story and graphics that look like they've dropped in from a straight-to-DVD animation. Characters who controlled with all the finesse of a rubber hose. The most basic, obvious, route-one sort of gameplay and story...
Suffice to say, when a movie was announced I was baffled; surely everyone thought as I did? Surely there were no actual Ratchet & Clank fans? Turns out I was the one out of step. Talking about it with my daughter's boyfriend yesterday, he assured me it was his favourite game growing up. What's more, he's properly excited for the film.
It seems that Ratchet & Clank fans are an actual thing. Ratchet & Clank: the movie is an actual thing. And now... me liking a Ratchet & Clank game is an actual thing.
Ratchet & Clank is a reworking of the duo's first game, timed to coincide with the release of that Ratchet & Clank movie.
It's pretty much a complete overhaul of the 14 year old original - at once entirely familiar, while feeling completely new.
What's really interesting is how different R&C feels to everything else that's around at the moment. It's a real throwback to the days when cartoony 3D platforms were the default genre. Back then, for me, Ratchet & Clank felt like a lesser cousin of Spyro, Jak & Daxter, and the Marios of this world. Now that they've fallen mostly out of fashion, Ratchet & Clank succeeds in having the field more or less to itself.
And with most mainstream games now strutting around as gritty portentous sci-fi epics, gritty portentous paramilitary shooters, or gritty portentous Lord of the Rings cosplay, it's a lungful of fresh air.
The biggest success of the original - which this reboot also manages - is combining what appears to be a lot of platformer whimsy with hardcore shoot 'em up elements. Though the satisfyingly-upgradable weaponry keeps its tongue firmly in its cheek - guns that turn enemies into sheep, set them dancing to disco beats, or reduced to 8-bit pixel characters - when assaulted with dozens of enemies at once, or meaty gunships, it's as challenging as any Call of Duty. Except considerably more fun.
Then you throw in a lot of proper platforming, levels where you're flying spaceships, and others where you play as the diminutive Clank - and it's that sort of variety which I realised I've missed. It's the chocolate box model: video games as a variety show.
My biggest sticking point with Ratchet & Clank is the same it always was: I don't love the characters or the world. It's just too obvious, too unoriginal and route one. Names like The Blargs, and Dr Nefarious feel lazy. Similarly, the shiny visuals - as epic and polished as they might be - lack anything they can call their own. Whereas a Mario world feels like a place unto itself - a coherent aesthetic distinctiveness - to the point where you can look at any screenshot of a Mario game, and know it's a Mario game.
It's the same reason I fell out of love with the Sonic series, once it went 3D: it felt like Sonic lost his sense of identity.
But still... again; there's nothing else like Ratchet & Clank around at the minute. Because it's just sheer entertainment, and so diverse, I was able to look beyond the dull art design, and how much the characters and story turn me off.
And I wasn't expecting that.
SUMMARY: A successful exercise in nostalgia that feels new by being the only pony in the paddock.
SCORE: 8.12312312 out of 10.12311111