Ratchet & Clank have made it into some very hallowed territory. In this day and age of over-muscled protagonists, sci-fi warriors, and violent criminal "heroes," you don't get too many talking animal characters, barring movie adaptations, of course. Back in the day, there was a glut of them, with Jersey Devil, Bubsy, and Aero the Acrobat crowding the shelves. Only a few made it up to "mascot" status, to the point where their games were both well-regarded and long awaited. Ratchet & Clank are there, now, and ready to be ranked with the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog. Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters is their introduction to the PSP, and, unsurprisingly, it's great fun.
You're tossed right into the middle of the action. Your dynamic duo are on vacation, but honor a request to show off a little bit out of the goodness of their own hearts. Things go sour, as they tend to do, and Ratchet and Clank have to get down to business. All of the intricate CG cinemas and lengthy, but boring, introductions are eschewed for a first stage that doubles as a tutorial and a primer on how the R&C universe works. Experienced Ratchet & Clank players will undoubtedly welcome the brief primer on how to adjust to the PSP's controls, and newbies will be shown everything they need to know to jump into the game.
Size Matters is an unfiltered Ratchet & Clank game. Barring the few alterations made to the control system to account for the PSP's fewer buttons, Size Matters stands right up there with Deadlocked and Up Your Arsenal. The same wit, charm, and sarcastic humor that you've grown to love is in effect, and one of the biggest draws of the series, the huge weapons, made it through, too.
The Ratchet & Clank commercials have always focused on the guns, often to humorous effect. That would be because are, in a word, awesome. You can shoot guns that fire glops of goo or angry bees, in addition to the usual line-up of bullets, rockets, and who knows what else. This is vital, because at its heart, Size Matters is about combat.
Expect to find hundreds, if not thousands, of enemies by the time your game is finally over. All of these enemies are bad people, and you've got to do to them what all bad people deserve: blow 'em to smithereens. Size Matters is violent, but in that Saturday morning cartoon style. Everything is so over the top that even doing things like covering someone with bees ends up being funny and entertaining.
Size Matters isn't scaled down, as I said earlier. The stages are large and provide plenty of room for exploration and puzzle-solving. Getting lost isn't really a worry, either, thanks to some clever stage design. This is far from a portable and wimpy version of your standard Ratchet & Clank title. All your favorite R&C features show up, from upgradeable weapons to new armor setups. Clank has his own little series of minigames, a few of which are remniscient of old-school games from years gone by. Whether it's a hardcore version of bumper cars or a twitch shooter, it's in there and quite fun.
That's where Size Matters's strengths lie. The story is fun and engaging to be sure, but that's just icing on the cake. If you strip away the story, though, Size Matters harkens back to a time when games were sold on gameplay alone, and the story was at the level of "Your princess is in another castle" at best.
The gameplay in Size Matters is that good. When you're playing, you're in the zone. You don't care about the story when you're facing down a hundred murderous robots. You just want to worry about whether you want to use a rocket launcher or one of your more esoteric weapons.
It's refreshing to play a title that is both old school in its gameplay, but new school in its storytelling. The story is smart, as is the usual for the Ratchet series, and the dialogue is top notch. Clank plays the role of Alfred to Ratchet's Batman perfectly, and his delivery is spot-on. Clank's gameplay segments serve to break up the long stretches of Ratchet-only stages, not that that is a bad thing at all. Size Matters is easily one of the best PSP games out now, and is well worth a purchase.