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The game is about how the titular duo meet and then team up to stop Chairman Drek and the Blarg from destroying planets across the galaxy in order to build themselves a new homeworld. In exchange for a chance to see the galaxy, Ratchet helps Clank look for the great hero, Captain Qwark.
In 2016, after the game was made into a movie, the game got a reimagining to tie into the film's release.
The 2002 game
- Acronym Confusion: Captain Qwark offers the heroes a PDA.
Ratchet: A Public Display of Affection?
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Blarg.
- Arrow Cam: The Visibomb Gun in this and the next game.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: This is the only game where Ratchet doesn't have shoes, aside from Size Matters.
- Big Bad: Chairman Drek.
- Book Ends: The game begins and ends on Planet Veldin.
- Breast Expansion: Perform a few sideways flips in front of the girl who gets you into the hoverboard race in Blackwater City.
- Brick Joke: Hey, the plumber's back!
- Can-Crushing Cranium: In a cutscene after you buy some soda that increases your max health, to demonstrate your newfound strength.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Chairman Drek.
- Deadpan Snarker: Drek.
Novalis Chairman: This is your last chance! Stop this madness now!
- Disappointed by the Motive: As quoted in Motive Misidentification, Ratchet and Clank assumed that Drek was a Well-Intentioned Extremist who was genuinely trying to help his people at any cost. Nope. He's a Corrupt Corporate Executive who's Only in It For the Money. The two have to choke back their disgust at this.
- The Dragon: The Robot Lieutenant is this to Drek early on in the game, but he promptly disappears after the duo encounter him in the logging site on Eudora and gets replaced by Qwark.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- The game is much more of problem solver/platformer than its sequels. It also has a much Lighter and Softer tone. It also has a rather political, anti-Capitalist, tone instead of the Space Opera feel that the brand would later settle into.
- The game's weapons are rather straightforward, compared to the more outlandish sci-fi weapons that would come to define the brand in later years.
- Not only does Ratchet have a different voice (Mike Kelly instead of James Arnold Taylor), he's a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal and proper Jerkass instead of the fully-clothed Deadpan Snarker of later games.
- Quark is a lot craftier than modern audiences are used to. And genuinely evil.
- Much of the boosts that Clank bestows on Ratchet that come standard in later games have to be earned here.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Drek's Planet Buster weapon.
- Everyone Has Standards: Ratchet is the Good Is Not Nice type of hero but even he's disgusted by Drek's motives.
- Faux Affably Evil: Chairman Drek.
- Heroic BSOD: Ratchet gets one after Qwark's betrayal. At this point, the only thing keeping him from dumping Clank and packing it all in is a need for mutual cooperation. He does become determined to get back at Qwark though.
- Jerkass: Ratchet after Qwark's betrayal. He gets better.
- Metal Detector Puzzle: The Metal Detector Gadget allows you to find a few extra bolts, but it's never required to complete the game.
- Motive Misidentification: When Ratchet and Clank corner Drek on top of the Planet Buster:
Clank: There must be a better way to find a home for your people.
- Planet Looters: The Blarg, or at least Drek.
- Power-Up Letdown: The Morph-O-Ray allows you to turn enemies too large for the Suck Cannon into chickens, allowing you to stock up on Suck Cannon ammo whenever you want. The giant chickens produced by the Gold Morph-O-Ray, however, are too big for the Suck Cannon.
- Plus, thanks to a Good Bad Bug, Morphing and then Sucking an enemy will give you more bolts than just killing it.
- Treacherous Advisor: Qwark.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Captain Qwark.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Ratchet, only in this game and Size Matters.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Chairman Drek is not one of these, as he is really just trying to exploit his own people at the cost of millions of lives.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Drek's lackey, the Robot Lieutenant all but vanishes from the game after you meet him on Eudora.
- Where It All Began: The final battle with Drek takes place on Veldin-the first level of the game and Ratchet's home planet.
Drek: "Imbeciles. After all the trouble you've gone to, you're about to die right where you started. *sniff* It's so...poetic."
- Wrench Wench: Clank gets a new upgrade from one.
The 2016 game
- Adaptation Name Change: Metropolis is now Alero City.
- Adaptational Heroism: Thanks to the PS3 era.
- Ratchet is much more a clean cut good guy, contrasting his hotheaded depiction in the 2002 game.
- Quark, as in the original game, still made a deal with Drek but he's quickly horrified by the scope of Drek's scheme and never wanted anyone to get hurt.
- Adaptational Wimp: Thanks to Popularity Power, Drek casually tossed aside by Nefarious. Fittingly, he's more Laughably Evil rather than Faux Affably Evil.
- Adapted Out: Helga the fitness robot.
- Broken Pedestal: Like in the original, Qwark to Ratchet. Unlike the original, Qwark pulls a Heel Face Turn when he realizes that Evil Is Not a Toy and how batshit crazy Drek is.
- Death by Adaptation:
- Novalis. It's death was only implied in the first time but it's properly destroyed here.
- Victor Von Ion.
- Decomposite Character: In the original, Drek was an Emperor Scientist. Here, the Mad Scientist role is filled in by Doctor Nefarious.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Why is the Blarg scientist making an army? Because he intends to unleash revenge on a co-worker who ate his sandwich.
- Everyone Has Standards: For all that he wanted fame, Qwark never wanted to hurt the other Rangers or work with Nefarious.
- Eviler Than Thou: No doubt thanks to Popularity Power, Doctor Nefarious eventually supplants Drek as the Big Bad.
- Fallen Hero:
- Nefarious was once a Galactic Ranger.
- Qwark but he picks himself up by the end.
- Framing Device: Quark is telling the story to his cellmate Shiv.
- Homeworld Evacuation: The populace of Novalis.
- Infinity+1 Sword: The RYNO.
- Insistent Terminology: This game is not a Continuity Reboot. It's a re-imagining.
- I've Come Too Far...: How Qwark justifies himself in his boss fight. Ratchet talks him out of it.
- Lemony Narrator: Quark gets quite annoyed at players who take too long to finish their objectives.
- Lighter and Softer: The heroes are more clear cut good guys and the toilet humour of the original is massively toned down.
- The Power of the Sun: The Deplanitizer is powered by a dwarf star at its core.
- Reality Ensues:
- Qwark turns on Nefarious but he still made a deal with him and betrayed the Rangers. He may be Easily Forgiven by Ratchet and Clank, but he's gonna serve jail time.
- Escaping the catastrophe doesn't equate to a happily ever after. The people of Novalis are now broke, homeless refugees.
- Related in the Adaptation: Skidd McMarxx is now the nephew of Agnogg Buckwash.
- Scenery Porn: All the alien worlds show how beautifully the PS4 can render graphics.
- Unreliable Narrator: How Insomniac Games justifies any holes between the game and the film, noting that Quark is infamous for doing this.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Nefarious, even sarcastically, praising his Face Heel Turn, is a deciding factor in Qwark deciding that he's made the wrong choice.