What more can be said about the Rayman series? It’s got a hero with no arms or legs. I mean come on! How can any other game developer compete with that? Rayman is a great series that I’ve enjoyed from the beginning and from the looks of the latest multi-console versions my love affair continues.
Rayman got its introduction to the Game Boy Advance with a port of the original game back when the handheld first premiered. I remember being blown away by the quality of the graphics and the addictive, if sometimes frustrating, gameplay. I even showed my parents how incredible it looked and I was 32 at the time. Alas, their ancient eyes were unable to appreciate the stunning beauty – or they couldn’t see without any backlight, I don’t recall. Rayman for the GBA was the perfect game at the perfect time and did very well for Ubi Soft. It was, deservedly, touted as the game to show the skeptics if you wanted to prove how incredible the GBA is. Rayman was a hard act to follow.
Rayman 3 tops it. Where to begin…Graphics. Graphics that have no place on a tiny handheld. Graphics that set the bar for games of its kind for years. Rayman 3 is rich beyond belief with sets and backgrounds that would match the Dreamcast. Throw in the fluid character animations that display a sense of humor that other games aspire to and simple controls that will have the clumsiest of us playing like Thresh within an hour—it’s heaven. Oh yeah. And addictive gameplay. Hell, even the menu is brilliant, with its moving gears, sweet sounds and amusing musical ditty.
The point of the game is hilarious and pseudo-pointless, as it is in all Rayman games – Globox, his idiot buddy with a bottomless pit of a stomach and a prune allergy, has disappeared after eating the Lord of the Dark Lums. In typical Rayman fashion everyone gets their little dig at the poor giant and then helps Rayman find him. But Hoodlums, an army that’s faithful to the Lord, are also after Globox, trying to get their leader back so they can rule the world. The only way to stop them is to find a “cure” for Globox and ally with the Knaaren, a rival tribe. If the plot seems a little holey, well, welcome to Rayman stories. It’s a little like being on a bender.
In the Rayman tradition the controls are the absolute simplest in any game out there except Tetris. Left and right move you around while up and down let you climb. Pressing the jump button makes you jump and pushing it again makes your hair into a helicopter blade so you can float to the ground. Rayman 3 adds new angles to all of his old arsenal. For the helicopter power you now have the super-helico, which not only lets you fall to earth slowly but also lets you fly up and around. Another example would be the punch button – it can be pushed quickly for a quick punch or for longer periods of time to throw your fist farther through the air (a benefit of having no arms, I guess). That’s nothing new. But In a nice little twist on the original, pushing the button a number of times gives Rayman a wicked one-two punch. These might sound simple and you may wonder what the fuss is about but it’s the way you use them that’s so fun. You get the controls down so quickly that you feel ready to take on any obstacles that come your way. And then the game gives you those obstacles. You get simple tools to overcome big odds. It’s the stuff of legends.
The level design is awesome and makes the game seem bigger than it probably is. There are lots of nooks and crannies to discover and treasures can be hidden there as well. The world is just fun to hang out in as the catchy music plays in the background and the promise of another secret or a lurking baddie is always lingering. The four worlds you get to explore are Forgotten Forests, Haunted Dreams, Magmacosm and Pirate Stronghold (so fun!). They’ll keep you busy for hours. One complaint I can level against this game is that the navigation between the world levels and entering/exiting the worlds themselves is awkward. This was the same problem as the first game so I hope the developers listen to their fans as we scream “Where the hell am I supposed to go now?”
The sound and extras in the game have no equal that I can think of on the GBA. The music is catchy and I didn’t mind it playing incessantly when I hit a tough villain. The voices are cute in that disturbing way. When Murfy makes an appearance (he’s the little bug who helps Rayman once in awhile) he always delivers a sassy line, usually at Rayman’s expense. Globox always walks that fine line between being dumb and too dumb and he stays consistent in Rayman 3.
Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of the game is the multi-player modes. You get multiplayer games like Burglar, Bumper Car Race, Bumper Car Arena and Tag. Some need to be unlocked by accomplishing tasks in the single player but the REAL fun one (Bumper Race) is ready to go out of the box. I highly recommend you give these modes a try. I’m confident after you’ve seen all this incredible game has to offer, you’ll see why I gave it this review.
On the downside, the levels aren’t as large as the original which was surprising. There seem to be more of them in Rayman 3 but I miss the huge landscapes. Another small letdown is the ease with which you can take down some of the bosses. Ubi Soft probably heard the cries or frustration from the first Rayman (many complained it was too hard at times) so they might have gone a little overboard on the difficulty. When all is said and done though, you’ll spend around 8-10 hours playing through it (unless you’re a hardcore gamer) and many more hours on the multiplayer modes.
Rayman is the best mascot in gaming and this gem just proves it! Looks so good, plays so good, must be good. I guess it would be cool if there was a heroine with no arms and legs as wellâ€¦
Rating: 9.2 Excellent
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Ben Zackheim was born Ben Zackheim sometime before 1980 and after 1960 which characterizes him not at all. He's a writer of reviews, comics and screenplays, but aren't we all? Luxuries like food and shoes mean nothing to him. He's married to the most beautiful woman in the world, Robin, who reads all his reviews before he sends them in and says "Are you really going to write that for the public to read?" But I assure her no one reads my reviews anyway, only Charlie's, so it's kind of like a tree in the forest (without the cute little fuzzy things who smell their own poop - wait, then again there is Charlie...) She's a cross between Gillian Anderson and Hillary Clinton, which is a monster I'd love to play in Monster Rancher Advance 2. Photos are available upon request for a small fee. I'm currently writing this bio but have no plans beyond that. View Profile