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USAT Reviews | 'Ratchet' stumbles, 'Skylanders' soar

Given the snarling, macho protagonists prevalent in video games today, it's easy to forget that the medium was once largely populated by cute, funny animals. Hedgehogs, bandicoots, raccoons, bobcats — anything with four legs — was likely to get a chance at virtual celebrity.

Two of the most endearing — and enduring — critters were created by Insomniac Games. In 1998 the developer introduced the adorable dragon Spyro, producing three titles before relinquishing the character to other studios. In 2002, the company moved on with the catlike "lombax" Ratchet (and his robot buddy Clank), a franchise that's now 10 games strong.

Spyro, Ratchet and Clank are back this month in two games that represent radical departures from their respective series. One is a rejuvenation, the other a disappointment.

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