A quick flash of memory: I’m 24 years old, in Target, aimlessly wandering the aisles by the home entertainment section, just killing time. I am alone, as I’m wont to be. I walk by the videogames section and hear that distinct sound of bolts being absorbed by Ratchet as he moves about. Sticking out from an endcap was a demo PSP, with Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters there for anyone to experience. Now, at this point in my life, I had already devoured the original Ratchet & Clank trilogy with extreme pleasure during my formative years, though reflecting back on it I’m not sure which of the three I never beat, but there is one that I didn’t see to the end, and it had to do with a boss battle and grinding rails and losing a lot of health from one hit. Hmm. Anyways, back to Target; I’m standing there, holding a PSP attached to a wall, staring down at a game that looks just like its home console counterparts, a bit of drool beginning to form and escape over my lower lip. Alas, it was not meant to be, as I had already decided on my portable system then and there, a Nintendo DS.
But man, I continued to want to play that Ratchet & Clank game, as well as all the others that came out afterwards for the PlayStation 3, but the systems were not mine or ever going to be mine, and so it was not meant to be. Boo, wah, a thousand tears. That is until I found a PS2 port of Size Matters at my local GameStop last year for a fair price, probably during their buy-2-get-1-free promotions. Generally, console games get ported to handheld devices with devastating results due to size restrictions, but it all switching around the other way seems to be more frequent these days.
It starts off with a vacation. Heck, Ratchet and Clank have surely earned it. Heroic work is quite tiring–at least that’s what I’m told. A young, red-headed girl named Luna–voiced by that woman from MadTV and the one who walks Carrie’s father on Queen of Kings–stumbles upon them and asks for their help with her school report on heroes. Unfortunately, some robots show up and kidnap her, and then Clank finds an ancient artifact from the race of intelligent beings called the Technomites. Captain Qwark shows up too, bummed about never knowing his parents. The plot thickens quickly after that, but saying any more would ruin some surprises.
Gameplay remains, as always, a mix of platforming and shooting. Guns level up with use, and for me, it seemed like they leveled up a whole lot faster than ever before. By final boss time, all of my favorite weapons were at their max level, and I never used the Scorcher or Suck Cannon once, despite enjoying them in previous games. I’ll pour one out for them later on. Ratchet’s health increases too as he defeats enemies, eventually capping at 50 for the first playthrough. There’s a handful of planet to explore, but, as the title indicates, they are not as open and vast as previous games in the franchise. I mean, that makes sense for a portable game, as the planets are almost cut into distinct sections, rather than flowing from one to another naturally.
The concept of armor for Ratchet–which I love–came into play with Going Commando, strengthening itself in Up Your Arsenal, becoming pivotal in Deadlocked, and turning into a toybox in Size Matters. As you travel from planet to planet, you’ll collect pieces of full armor sets, like the Crystallix boots or the Wildfire helmet, naturally aiming for a full set. In the meantime, you can wear any combination of armor pieces to make your own type of suit, which varies on damage reduction and appearance. I played around with this a lot, finding new types of suits simply by mixing and matching. Seems like there are more armor sets in New Game+, too. In the end, I used the full Mega-Bomb Armor set the most.
Seeing as this version is a port from the PSP, visually and technically…it fails. On a larger screen, the environments appear much more bland and empty, and the game itself locked up on me twice for no reason. Cutscenes appear very compressed and lower quality than expected, but other than that, it plays fine. Not the greatest in the franchise, and not the better of the two, but it’s still another Ratchet & Clank game to devour.
Okay, now for something else: Size Matters is a funny title. One, it continues the trend of Insomniac’s games being heavy on the innuendoes despite their Pixar-like look, feel, and overly friendly vibe. Seriously, here’s a couple of ’em, and just try to keep a clean mind as you read: Going Commando, Up Your Arsenal, Quest for Booty, Full Frontal Assault. Right. Two, this title also has to do with the fact that you’re playing a PS2-size game on a tiny portable system. And three, for plot’s sake, you are battling against the Technomites, which are teeny yet highly intelligent beings, and so, on occasion, Ratchet will shrink in size and/or Clank will grow to massive heights.
As with all the Ratchet & Clank games I’ve played so far, you can start over with a New Game+, keeping your weapons, skill points, armor, and bolts, but upping the difficulty, especially for the bosses, and dropping in new versions of leveled guns, as well as special armor sets. Mmm mmm. Usually, I skip New Game+ options, like I did in Deadlocked–yeah, I really need to write a blog post on why some day soon–but I immediately started over, excited to keep going. So far, it seems like you can now add a multiplier to your bolts collecting by defeating enemies in succession without taking a hit, which will definitely help in procuring those finer, mightier weapon editions. Plus, figuring out skill points and finding those large silver bolts to unlock Big Head mode is a totally legit excuse to keep playing.