Ratchet & Clank Reminds Us Of an Innocence We May Have Lost

The charm and innocence of such a game shouldn't be as rare as it is these days.

The charm and innocence of such a game shouldn’t be as rare as it is these days.

Let me be clear: I’m not one of those aging gamers who believes that everything was better “back in the day.” I just can’t abide that level of blindness, so obviously tainted by overriding nostalgia. There have been plenty of changes for the better in this industry but I’m not about to address them all here. The point is, don’t mistake this editorial for one of those whining, “oh, how I wish things were the way they used to be” pieces that refuses to acknowledge the great strides this industry has taken.

Disclaimer aside, I think we should all take note of Insomniac’s latest project, the Ratchet & Clank remake that launches today on PlayStation 4. We’ve seen remakes and remasters before, of course, but this particular remake isn’t only special because the developers rebuilt it from the ground up for a new generation. It also reminds us of a time when innocence was a big part of the hobby. Clearly stemming from a time when video games really were designed for children, we used to see lots of charming, totally inoffensive, yet wildly engaging games hit the market. They weren’t “kiddie,” per se; they were merely accessible and lighthearted.

“Lighthearted” isn’t a term I’d use to describe many games today. Even when indie teams produce smaller, unique, quirky titles, they’re not always what I’d call “innocent” or “lighthearted.” Some are just plain twisted and a surprising number are decidedly dark. Of course, this is reminiscent of an increasingly disgusting society where the entertainment reflects the decline in quality and intelligence, and the only way you can get anyone to pay attention is if it’s flashy, titillating, or just plain dumb. “50 Shades of Gray,” a bevy of musical artists essentially devoid of any verifiable talent, and the endless array of superhero movies (superheros were for kids, people)  are only a few of the most obvious examples.

So, gaming is hardly immune. And I love some of the aforementioned darker productions, too. But I’ve been missing the colorful and the cheerful, traits I know Nintendo still has in abundance (though that company has lost me along the way), but are hard to find in the more adult PlayStation, Xbox and PC realms. Ratchet & Clank reminds me of a time when video games didn’t take themselves so seriously, when we weren’t trying to make a point or push technology forward with every single production. This was a franchise that everyone can play and enjoy and I have only one question:

How many established IPs can we say this about today?

There aren’t many. Back in the day (sorry, had to use the phrase here), there were lots of franchises that embodied lighthearted fun and veterans can easily name ten off the tops of their heads. It was a big part of the industry and sadly, it isn’t anymore, even with more kids getting involved at a young age. Ratchet and Clank stands out today, not only because we don’t see gameplay like that anymore, but also because of its tone. It’s unfortunate that such a tone appears to be on life support, that’s all. And I know you can find it if you look hard enough; I’m talking about a time when big-budget AAA games had such a tone as well.

Don’t really see that anymore. It’s a little depressing. That’s why R&C puts a smile on my face, and yours as well (guaranteed).

5 thoughts on “Ratchet & Clank Reminds Us Of an Innocence We May Have Lost”

Yes, yes, yes!

I MISS the days of R&C and Jak and Daxter (as you can probably tell from my avatar). I don’t mind more realism and tackling tougher issues and all that, but we shouldn’t forget that this industry is based on FUN, and always has been. 🙂

“May” have lost?

No, we lost it. I know it still exists on a smaller scale sometimes but big-budget games just can’t be this way, unless they’re specifically designed for – and marketed to – kids.

It’s kinda sad.

I say you have to take the bad with the good. Yeah, we’ve lost a lot of the “niceties,” so-to-speak, but we’ve also seen some great strides, strides this industry really, REALLY needed to take.

I think gaming is in a better position than it has ever been before. We just had to make some unfortunate sacrifices, that’s all.

Ratchet & Clank is a joyous experience. It just is. There are SO many reasons I love playing this game and I think many of them stem from a LACK of such experiences in this day and age.

Remember fun? Just plain ol’ FUN? If not, play this.

One word:

AMEN.

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