Ratchet and Clank, two of the PlayStation 2's most notable action champions, take to the smaller screen in the unfortunately sub-titled adventure "Size Matters" (Rated E; $39.99).
However, beyond the groaner name is a solid handheld recreation of the popular PS2 franchise's formula — oodles of bizarro weapons, lots of run-and-jump action, and some clever dialogue. In fact, the only thing holding back the dynamic duo on their PlayStation Portable debut is, well, the PSP itself.
At the onset of the story, Ratchet and his robot companion Clank have their vacation interrupted by a little girl that wants to see her favorite hero in action. Ratchet dutifully obliges her request and bashes a few robots with his trusty oversized wrench, but soon the girl is kidnapped and the story — in typical "Ratchet" fashion — starts spinning in odd directions.
Any fan worried that the writing and voice work would somehow suffer while the game was en route to the PSP may assuage their fears now. Clank is still droll, Ratchet is still cocky, and Captain Qwark is ever the basket case.
Other than strong writing, the other hallmark of the franchise is its arsenal. Ratchet and Clank are outfitted with some terrifically fun, over-the-top weapons. Guns fire more than just bullets in the Ratchet universe — look for a sidearm that fires bees or a glove that lobs acid bombs. And who wouldn't want to test-fire a weapon called the Mootator, which turns enemies into harmless cows?
“Size Matters” consists primarily of running through a series of colorful levels, swinging your wrench and pulling off death-defying jumps. This is when the PSP's shortcomings affect the game. Without all of the PS2 controller buttons and dual analog sticks, certain moves are just painful to execute. To pull off a long jump, the player must balance the handheld while pressing both shoulder buttons and the X button. It's not easy the first time or the eightieth time. If you're a gamer that finds the PSP uncomfortable to hold, “Size Matters” will have you cursing by the third level.
Even though “Size Matters” is a portable offshoot of the franchise, new developer High Impact games doesn't skimp on content. In addition to the high-action antics, the game offers space-shooting levels with Clank and hoverboard races with Ratchet. The space battles are particularly good, thanks to easier controls and some very pleasing graphics. (Actually, as far as PSP games go, “Size Matters” is easily one of the best looking.)
The game also features multiplayer gaming that supports up to four players and a wide range of missions, from regular deathmatch to a cow-scooping race.
“Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters” is a solid entry in the franchise, sure to please fans that have made the series a consistent million-seller. The controls annoy from time to time, but it's the only drawback in a game that delivers fun action with a healthy dose of humor.