At the end of Mario Kart 7 — well, when you’ve finished all of the grand prix events for the first time, which is hardly the “end” — the credits roll. Fair enough. I liked the game enough that I’ll let them roll for a few names. But not the entire thing. I will watch your credits in proportion to how much I liked your game. I’ll sit through the entirety of the credits for an Arkham City, Bioshock, Far Cry 2, Brutal Legend, or Bastion. I’ll check out the first few names after a Fear 3, Red Dead Redemption, Splatterhouse, or Brink. I’m out of there as soon as an Uncharted 3, Gears 3, or Modern Warfare 3 is over.

Plus, my 3DS isn’t plugged in, so I’m on borrowed time here and I’d like to run a few more races. So I press A to skip the credits. No? B? No. Y? No. X? No. Start? No. Select? No. Left shoulder button or right shoulder button? No. Left shoulder button and right shoulder button? No. Some combination of two buttons? No. Four buttons? Whoa, wait, isn’t there some four-button combo that formats the cart?

As near as I can tell after my rigorous scientific inquiry, there is no way to skip the credits in Mario Kart 7. Which I can kind of understand. These people made the game and they demand recognition. But that should be my prerogative.

Wait, what does this have to do with Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One?

Afer the jump, glad you asked!

Credits are bad enough. But Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One does something I cannot abide: unskippable cutscenes. When some obscure Japanese RPG does that, I can sort of understand. They don’t really get me and I shouldn’t expect them to. But when the latest game in a popular and user-friendly series like Ratchet & Clank forces me and up to three of my friends to sit through a long, unfunny, pedestrian cartoon before every single damn level, I wonder what they were thinking. The appeal of All 4 One is the cooperative action, and not the narrative. So get that narrative out of my face, because it’s not why I’m here and you’re not very good at it. I’ve given you my money and I’ve offered you my time for a specific kind of experience. I am not going to let you decide how I should spend my time before playing your game.

What’s more, this isn’t a good enough game for this sort of basic oversight. It has too many other basic oversights, such as actual gameplay. This feels like the pale shadow of a Ratchet & Clank game, from the gunplay to the RPG progression to the level design to the artwork to the unlockables. Even the interface is vaguely insulting. I’m supposed to muck around on the wheel to make sure I have the same weapon as my opponent so we can maximize our damage? Some of the cooperative stuff is an absolute tangled mess of colored lines, attack circles, and targeting tabs, all laid over explosions of bolts and the usual goofy robots. So much HUD for so little gameplay, all to squeeze four players onto one screen. No wonder it has a fixed camera. You, sir, are no God of War.

It’s almost as if Insomniac hired someone else to make a Ratchet & Clank game. When they did that with High Impact Games, the folks who made the PSP games, you could blame the platform and go along with it. But here we are on the same platform as the brilliant Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time, grinding along the figurative rails, courtesy of Insomniac’s new North Carolina studio. It looks more like a Ratchet & Clank game threw up than an actual Ratchet & Clank game.

So having seen the first half of All 4 One, I am officially done. It’s bad enough that it’s not a very good game. I can plow through a not very good game easily enough. But when it has the gall to force me to watch bad cartoons, I draw the line.

1 star
Playstation 3