Grandma has Destroyed Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters
It took Grandma a while to complete this one, which is strange because it hadn't left her PSP since Jennifer from Sony sent it to her. Honestly, I blame my almost perfect scheduling and driving abilities. All the various doctor's appointments she has endured lately had relatively short wait times in the queue rooms filled with uncomfortable chairs and old Newsweek magazines and various unpleasant children's toys. This is usually the time she really puts toward completion for a level or two in handheld games, but we're so goddamn used to the appointments that I can time it pretty well so she doesn't have to wait long.
She doesn't like to whip out her PSP when she's supposed to be paying attention to a nurse's instructions for matters of convenience and to avoid what is now the common "oh... you're that grandma who plays with those electronic things! How cute!" Such people tend to think Grandma lacks the qualities of other grandmas who provide delicious baked goods to the faculty upon repeat visits. While in the hospital, however, she had all the time in the world to play uninterrupted.
Ratchet & Clank has always been one of Grandma's favorite series. She scolds the rest of us when we accidentally say Jak and Daxter. "Naughty Dog and Insomniac are similar but not the same. GET IT RIGHT." She found Size Matters to be a nice addition. The first time she played it was a demo at the Mondrian Hotel during Sony's press junket before last year's E3. She was attracted to it then for the same reason she likes it now:
It's more or less just like playing it on a PS2. The graphics are the same, really. And not in that half-ass kinda way where the cutscenes are pretty but the gameplay is blocky, either- it actually looks GOOD.
She really didn't have anything to say about the sound quality or voice acting because she tended to play it with the sound off so as not to be rude to those around her. Even her frustration was muted, to an extent anyway, when Grandma encountered problems with her least favorite aspect of the game: the camera control.
That fucking camera. For weeks it was all I heard about. Sure, the game was fun but THAT FUCKING CAMERA. It's strange because most of the reviews I've read list the camera system to be fairly intuitive; moving towards the FPS practice of using the shoulder buttons exclusively for camera operation (Grandma points out I shouldn't say 'exclusively'). For whatever reason, however, Grandma couldn't stand it.
"I can't see, I can't see, I CAN'T SEE, GODDAMMIT! FUCK!"
Taken out of context, you can see why she tried not to say such things in a hospital; lest they think her diabetes has finally rendered her blind.
In one twenty minute period of sitting next to her while she played the thing, she mentioned the camera 10 times.
"I have to hook over to that thing to swing across there or else the goddamn fish gets me but the fucking camera won't let you change direction while you're swinging."
"Shit. No!!! I can't SEE!"
"At least with the races you don't have to deal with the god damned camera. I STILL run into the fucking wall, though."
Oh yes, the races. Another now ubiquitous part of platform gaming that started with Crash Bandicoot riding a pig. Grandma HATES the races. If it's not MarioKart, forget about it. In fact, scratch that: even MarioKart pisses her off sometimes. I think it's because if she makes a mistake or if something goes wrong she needs some time to yell a bit and regain composure. In a race, however, once you screw up, the results of your error continue to fly by, just making Grandma more angry.
"I hate this fucking camera. I can't see what's hitting me."
You get the idea.
Now, Grandma loves her handhelds, but her heart is always with the big consoles. You can imagine the contrast of her downloading the new Ratchet & Clank trailer for the PS3 at the same time finishing up the PSP game.
"God, look at that. Now why can't I just hook up the PSP to the television and play it so it's BIG."
-"That kind of takes away the point of having a handheld game, doesn't it? I mean, then you're not playing a PSP game, you're just playing a ...GAME... game. Does that makes sense?"
"I guess. Still, that'd be cool."
And then they announced the new and improved PSPs at this year's E3 presentation which include, you guessed it, a fucking video output. That conversation will be forever etched in my memory as one of those prophetic Grandma instances of the industry reading her mind. I'm a bit skeptical, to tell you the truth. All of the camera problems Grandma encountered would still be there in the shoulder buttons, they'd just be ...bigger. The DS and the PSP both are without the greatness of dual-thumbsticks; it's just something most of us have learned to live with. I don't know. I guess we'll find out in September.
When all is said and done, Grandma recommends R&C: Size Matters to anyone who has a PSP. It's probably the best platformer out there for the system, and the camera control issues aside (which Grandma tends to blame on herself) it's a hell of a lot of fun.
And it's a Ratchet & Clank game so of COURSE the weapons are cool :)
Also, to all those nurses and orderlies out there: just because Grandma games doesn't mean she doesn't make delicious cookies.
You just don't get any.
(The chocolate smears on the PSP screen.)