Mario Galaxy vs. Ratchet & Clank: ToD Showdown


With the next Ratchet & Clank game coming out this month and with a next Mario Galaxy game coming out next year, and now that I’ve completed both games and had time to reflect on them, I thought it would be fun to do a scored category-by-category comparison of the two kings of the 3D platformer.

Scores are obviously subjective and light-hearted fun…

Technology: Visuals, flash, audio

On the Wii, I’m used to stuff like Wii Sports which has obnoxiously bad graphics. I know that’s not the point of the game, and it’s a runaway favorite with kids everywhere, but it makes it more surprising when Mario Galaxy actually looks pretty good. At several points I noticed various water or lava effects or shading effects that actually looked impressive. Beyond the core tech though, everything in Galaxy looks really well polished and integrated.

Ratchet & Clank, obviously runs on fancier hardware, so expectations are high, but the graphics, physics, and audio exceed those high expectations. Even two years later, Tools of Destruction is one of the most visually impressive and beautifully polished titles of today.

A quick glance at some screenshots or video footage should show that these two games aren’t even in the same ballpark in terms of visuals and technology in general. Obviously, this is just one aspect of the game experience, but it does enhance the fun.

Winner: Ratchet +1 (no surprise here)

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Longevity and Game Size

I didn’t record my play time, but I’d say that both of these titles have unusually large single player campaigns packed with varied high quality content and are about equal in this regard.

Winner: Tie.

Level Design

Both games had tons of cool levels, with all types of unique and creative twists. I’d give the edge to Mario, however. They just had more creative twists, that were fun and easy to play through. Breaking up levels into miniature planet surfaces worked really well. (I know the Ratchet & Clank series did spherical levels first, but it’s not in Tools of Destruction).

For a platformer, this is a broad and important category, so I’m giving two points.

Winner: Mario Galaxy +2

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Boss Battles and Game Progression

Ratchet had some gorgeous and fun to fight boss battles, but Galaxy’s bosses were more plentiful, unique, and entertaining.

Galaxy’s level hub area worked better than Ratchet’s space travel system. There is more flexibility of choosing the next level, repeating old favorite levels, and feeling game progress.

Winner: Mario Galaxy +1

Narrative + Cut Scenes + Voice Acting

Mario’s cut-scene type story segments were a real bore (even for kids) and the voice acting is screeching and annoying. The game featured lots of text story books which held little entertainment value. The best news is that it’s mostly avoidable and ignorable.

Ratchet has extremely well animated story segments with great voice work, and some genuinely funny moments. Some of the humor fell flat: I thought the pirate gags and the groovitron bit were overdone, but overall the story bits were well done and served as great polish on the rest of the game.

Winner: Ratchet +1

Special Powers and Vehicles

Almost every special power or mode in Super Mario was tons of fun: Fire Mario, the racing segments, the turtle shell swimming, bee mario, etc. Ratchet had a few gems, such as the flying wings, and had a bunch of cool weapons to use, but most of the other special vehicles and powers just weren’t as fun as Galaxy.

Also, while the core of Galaxy is controlled by the standard analog stick and buttons, they have a few more fun novelty uses for the Wii pointer and tilt functionality.

Winner: Mario Galaxy +1

Gunplay

Mario obviously doesn’t have gunplay and focuses strictly on it’s strengths.

Gunplay is an integral part of the fun in the Ratchet & Clank series. Ratchet has deceptively childish cartoon looks, but the action mechanics are far better (fun, balanced, challenging) than most “mature” FPS games. Of particular favorite is the arena battles which have really fun and intense action challenges.

Winner: Ratchet +1

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Expert Player Challenges

Mario has tons of extra bonuses to do and extra stars to earn. Ratchet has a few bonus arena challenges and collectibles to find on old levels, but is generally lacking in this regard. Even earlier Ratchet games had more end of level optional challenges. This is a real disappointment for Ratchet as the game needed bigger goals for expert players to work up to.

Winner: Mario Galaxy +1

Also, as an aside, and not as a better/worse point, the main game in Mario Galaxy was more difficult to complete than in Ratchet.

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Conclusion

Winner: Mario Galaxy by two points.

It’s a close contest, and they really both do excel at different areas. I have both sequels pre-ordered and eagerly anticipate them.

One other observation worth noting is that these games are meant for kids and novice gamers. Yet all the kids in my extended family and all the novice gamers that I know shy away from both these games. They seem to prefer simpler and more accessible games like 2D Mario on DS, Wii Sports, LittleBigPlanet co-op, or even Call of Duty. I suspect that the 3D platforming interface is somewhat less-intuitive and rewarding for novice players.


Written by: Darrin - Contributing Editor


  1. #1 by fleakitten on October 17th, 2009 [ 26489 Points ]

    Ratchet would have won hands down if there was a ‘Who’s cuter’ comparison.

  2. #2 by terribledeli on October 18th, 2009 [ 630 Points ]

    I don’t know…Ratchet doesn’t have a pot belly.

  3. #3 by Balram on October 18th, 2009

    Who wrote this??
    This is ALL WRONG!!!
    Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction is the clear winner hands down in graphics, game design, game length, fun, creativity and everything else (except for bosses) that’s why the game is one of the best around!! How can you even say that?!?!?!

  4. #4 by Darrin on October 18th, 2009 [ 17143 Points ]

    LOL. I wrote it. I’m way more excited about Crack in Time than Galaxy 2 from the preview footage. LBP is the top platformer to beat, IMO, but that’s a different style of game.

  5. #5 by sam sam on October 18th, 2009

    i prefer galaxy by a lot more than two points. byw, i dont think these games are meant for kids. i think they are games kids can play but are meant for everyone to enjoy.

  6. #6 by Darrin on October 18th, 2009 [ 17143 Points ]

    Kids can enjoy these games, but these are really more suited for enthusiast types. Kids like really simple games in the same way that kids like simple foods such as chicken fingers. Adults like more complex foods and more complex games.

  7. #7 by JimmyMagnum on October 18th, 2009 [ 83111 Points ]

    I thought both were good, but R&C was more fun for me because of the story.

    Kinda going off topic here, but Sega needs to remake the classic Sonic games in the sense that they get a next gen graphic upgrade, but keep the gameplay EXACTLY the same, so it’s still a 2D platformer (think a Bionic Commando Rearmed kind of upgrade)

  8. #8 by Brasi on October 18th, 2009

    I thought that the article was spot on. But alas I would give Mario more credit because i grew up with him, Mario holds a special part in my heart lol.

  9. #9 by Balram on October 19th, 2009

    I agree that they are made for everyone, but by far I can understand that Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction is better as I have finished both 100%!! With the Ryno Blaster and Ryno 4 Ever in ToD and it’s GREAT!!

  10. #10 by kkkk on October 19th, 2009

    LOLLOLOLOL you noob saibot.

  11. #11 by sam sam on October 19th, 2009

    mmmmmm …..chicken fingers!

  12. #12 by james on October 19th, 2009

    i think ratchet and clank should have one this.
    it should have got at least 2 points for story at least.

  13. #13 by Eddie on October 19th, 2009 [ 44542 Points ]

    The winner of platformers is Mario Galaxy…but I don’t consider R&C a platformer. It is an Action Adventure game as far as I’m concerned.

  14. #14 by Johnny on October 19th, 2009

    this is all wrong, ratchet and clank as much more longetivity then Mario, you cant compare guns to a game that does not feature guns what so ever.

    poorly thought/wrote out

    i expect more from this website, a bit more fanboyism (this is PS3 BLOG)

    f*ckin N00B

  15. #15 by King32 on October 19th, 2009

    What the hell. R you kidding me, there is no way that Mario Galaxy is better than R&CF:TOD. The person who wrote this must be insane. Graphics alone should of been the reason on why R&C is better than Mario Galaxy and the gameplay is way better than Mario, all u do is jump, punch, collect stars and repeat. R&C you have guns, starship fighting(in space) prolly the best platforming beside Jak and Daxter and Uncharted 1&2 and a great story. C’mon Darrin u must b joking. Bloody Hell!

    P.S. R&CF:ACIT in stores Oct 27. One more thing ppl and listen up good. Let me quote Adam Sessler for a min. Uncharted 2 is the BEST single player experince EVER and yes it is better than Gears 2. Way better! :)

  16. #16 by sam sam on October 19th, 2009

    Wow, i’ve heard of fanboys but this is just rediculous. i think people talk out of their ass a lot on this site(commenters), and i’m sure some of the people posting here didn’t even play galaxy at all.

  17. #17 by Balram on October 20th, 2009

    EXACTLY! THIS IS REDICULOUS!

  18. #18 by King32 on October 20th, 2009

    Hey sam sam and balram how bout u go and play ur Gaylo 3 on ur 360 that prolly broke down own u about 100x and shut up. Ive played mario galaxy and yes it a good game but its no where near R&C and i was dumb enough to get a 360 a while back and ive played both gears 2 and halo 3 and they dont even come close to Uncharted 2.

  19. #19 by Balram on October 20th, 2009

    errrm, my name ain’t balram unless of dat ur IQ’s the one of a fish.
    P.S. C’mon the Wii’s hardware is off those from the last generation consoles, only the N64 and the DS Lite were da greatest consoles ever made from Nintnedo, the Wii is only a great concept but in hardware wise, it’s alike that of the PS2s’.

  20. #20 by asds on December 14th, 2009

    R&C have good graphic , but mario galaxy have better artstyle and it looks better.
    and gameplay, mario galaxy wins,

    R&C is bouring,

    PD: i have ps3 and wii.
    ps3 for shooters, but ps3 platafformers are bourings.


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