Review by matt91486

"And this just in...medical advances are now so advanced that characters no longer need arms, legs, or a neck to function...breaking news, I repeat"

OPENING STATEMENT
The Rayman series has been revered by many to be the best sidescrolling, platforming series of all time. That is saying a lot, when the series competes with Kirby, Mario, Castlevania, and so many other great game series. So, when the PlayStation original Rayman title was ported to the Game Boy Advance, I picked it up with my console, hoping that all of these people had not lied to me. Luckily for me, Rayman is a great side-scrolling game, and hopefully it can lead a revolution of Game Boy Advance games back to the glory days of gaming. The sidescrolling days of the early 1990s.

GAMEPLAY--9
Rayman Advance is a sidescrolling platform game, much like the hundreds of games in this genre that you saw on the Super Nintendo. The thing though, is that Rayman debuted on the PlayStation, which makes Rayman Advance the first flawless PlayStation game port to a handheld system. And a flawless port it is. The objective of Rayman Advance is to simply get to the end of each of the more than sixty levels. In the first few levels, you will be taught maneuvers and special moves to make this progression easier. Rayman will be taught to hang from ledges, to punch out enemies, and to plant magic flowers before the first couple of levels are through. Speaking of enemies, there are a variety of them impeding your progress through the levels.

There are other obstacles besides the enemies though. Spikes and traps abound, and you sometimes will have to make blind jumps to leap over them, due to the Game Boy Advance having a smaller screen than a television set. There are also some spots where you may feel like you are stuck, when all you need to do is make a strategic leap to progress ahead, so keep an eye out for spots like that. Ubi Soft did an excellent job making Rayman Advance’s levels interactive and challenging to play through, with lots of interesting gameplay elements.

GRAPHICS--10
Rayman Advance is a lush, beautiful looking, perfect port of a PlayStation game. The environments are amazingly colorful. The plants are an enormous graphical part of the game, and Ubi Soft clearly put time into making them look spectacular on the small screen. To be perfectly honest, there is no better looking Game Boy Advance game. And Rayman Advance has proved that the Game Boy Advance can handle anything that the early PlayStation games can dish out, so maybe we will see some ports of games like Suikoden or Twisted Metal 2. Probably not, but we can hope.

Rayman himself looks as wacky as ever. His body is still that odd, yet compelling to look at, shade of purple. He stands out nicely against the backgrounds, due to the exact width of the outlines. You may think that our limbless friend might get lost in the shuffle with such busy, vibrant backgrounds, but Rayman can hold his own against the hot desert sun and multicolored palm trees, no problem.

MUSIC--8
SOUND--7

Rayman Advance’s music is straight from that of the PlayStation original. Moreover, it is almost CD quality sound, with only a very slight Game Boy quality downgrade. The tunes are all happy, and played with a childlike innocence, much like Rayman Advance itself. The tunes are not on the quality scale of some games, but they are done nicely and they will not make your ears hurt.

I do think that the music is better than the sound effects are. The sound effects are above average, there just are not all that many of them, and I think there should be more than were included. Maybe some different noises for the strength of the punch, instead of the same old sound. (If they were different, they were such minute differences that I did not notice them.) Other variations on sound effects would have been nice. But the biggest addition I would have liked is voice acting. Rayman Advance would have worked better with voice acting than a lot of games that have it.

CONTROL--7
Precise control is the key to a good platforming game. Ubi Soft did a great job with the control, with one tiny problem still. That problem is blind jumps. On many occasions I found myself needing to jump, but not being able to see the platform that was my destination. This, in turn, led to many lost lives, and following down the line, many extra hours of playtime before I beat Rayman Advance. Yes, that is a substantial problem. Luckily Ubi Soft has created no other problems with the control. Rayman himself responds instantly to your commands, and the buttons all carry out logical functions. If it were not for those blind jumps, Rayman Advance would control perfectly.

FUN--8
If you liked the original PlayStation Rayman, or have yet to experience it, you will have a blast playing Rayman Advance. The platforming action is the best since Super Mario Brothers 3 and Kirby’s Adventure were released way back for the original Nintendo. Progression is not done easily, but it is well worth the effort, because each level is so much different than the others. The interactive parts of levels that just seem like decorations are also quite amusing, and a nice touch. It is good that platform game developers are now making gamers think a little bit instead of being able to just plow forward through the levels. Thinking is very good to do when you are controlling a limbless, heroic character while sitting in the passenger seat of a 1992 Toyota Camry for eight hours straight, which is where I got a lot of my Rayman Advance play time in.

CHALLENGE--HIGH
Rayman Advance have been one of the only platforming games released since 1995, but even if hundreds had been released, Rayman Advance may well be the hardest. And the blind jumps are only part of the difficulty. Ubi Soft simply made progression through this game very hard to come by. The first two levels are easy enough, but after that the difficulty level really pushes up after that. You need to think more to progress. Traps are located in more and more strategic locations. The enemies require more than one punch to defeat, begin to dodge punches, and just multiply in general. So do not even worry about not getting your money’s worth, because there is no way you will be simply breezing through Rayman Advance.

REPLAY VALUE--LOW TO MEDIUM
There really is no real reason to play through Rayman Advance after beating it. And yet I still felt compelled to do so for a little while. I never finished my second time through the game, but I still played it some after I beat it. Do not expect to get a lot of replay time out of Rayman Advance though. Consider it one time through, and some change. Which is still on the good side for a platformer. If only there were some multiplayer capabilities.

PROS
*The best graphics to date on the Game Boy Advance.
*Best platforming game released in years.
*More than sixty very different levels so it will not get old quickly.

CONS
*Not a new Rayman game, just a port of the PlayStation original.
*Audio could have been improved.
*Blind jumps may make you lose many lives.

CLOSING STATEMENT
Rayman Advance may not be the most innovative or the best Game Boy Advance game that was released at launch. But Ubi Soft provided a beautiful, nostalgic trip through the back end of platforming game’s heyday, and you will not want to miss that. The glory days of gaming originally ended soon after the original Rayman’s release, so let us hope that with Rayman revived, gaming’s glory days can be resurrected as well.

OVERALL--8


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/24/01, Updated 07/24/01


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