Review by slutboyfame
"I'm an excellent driver, Charlie Babbitt..."
I must profess a penchant for platform pranks. Some of my favourite games have been in this mould, from Metroid Prime to Super Mario Bros(SMB). This appreciation of the past is not shared by French developer Ubisoft, however. The total travail expended in the production of this title pales in comparison to the endeavour expended in the creation of the PS2/GCN versions. A pity, then, that this should be so, given the interval until the next GBA Mario update.
The game has almost acceptable audio. The tunes are rendered in a sotto style, and only their repetitiveness offends. The graphics, though, are very smart and Rayman is endowed with a certain Gallic allure. Unfortunately, this charm has been purloined from the superior Plok, on the SNES, where the idea of 'limb-launching' was fulfilled further. The music in Plok, too, provided a bouncy and accomplished audio that is a little lacking in this unremarkable ensemble.
The game is reasonable enough, and can be involving for brief periods, but it still feels like Donkey Kong Clunktry to slutboyfame. The gameplay contained in the both of the titles mentioned has been more entertainingly realised in SMB. This is the 'above average' benchmark for 2d platformers, and Rayman3 falls short by some distance. I would not, in all honesty, recommend the purchase of this title. Although it is great graphically, it lacks in terms of challenge and connection with the gameworld, as you never feel under intimidation from any of the enemies you meet. Rather than being just a diversion, collecting 'coins' (lums) is used as a poor excuse to lead you through the generically-modified, bland levels.
These are fairly uninspiring, for the most part, and inhabited by handfuls of ill-defined foes. Knights In Shining Armour™ pose little strain on your character, or imagination. The idea that Rayman should have a reaction to water akin to an Alka-Seltzer feels redundant, and arbitrary. To have a prescribed 'instant death' when you are careless enough to touch liquid just seems silly, should you take a step back 20 years. Mario, in SMB, at least provides an example of how undersea levels gave a welcome, and unexpected adjunct.
In describing other annoyances, when you undergo a 'forced' scrolling section, Rayman is coerced to the far left of the screen. This means that any leftward adjustment made to his position, on the log he is riding on, results in the screen flipping, blinding you to any danger as you struggle to flip the screen to the right.
The names of the characters you meet are somewhat uninspired, too. No doubt hours of fevered brainstorming were required before 'Sam the snake' was chosen as a moniker. The pseudo-3d sections which introduce this stupid serpent are remarkable only for their poor collision detection. This is the biggest threat to Rayman, but they become simple enough, once you know that you need to jump very late to 'avoid' the obstacles that are present. This section could have shone, and broken up the repetitive platform fare, if the developer had designed threatening enemies, or allowed you to risk (for example) a higher speed by holding down A. Perhaps the forfeiting of your jumping ability could have been balanced by the opening of easier routes, or the potential to avoid enemies more easily.
This game tries a little too hard to give everyone an easy ride. The levels are, for the most part, simple and unchallenging. As with most developers wanting a wide appeal, the excitement produced with the struggle between risk and reward has been eliminated, leaving a soft, bland experience.
Fortunately, not all developers think this way. Nintendo have tried to provide some measure of difficulty in their titles, from Mario Sunshine to Metroid Fusion, recently. Even their easier titles, like Yoshi's Island, contain levels like Kamek's Revenge. It is a shame that Ubisoft have used the lowest common denominator when circumscribing their platform pastime. I suppose I'll need to take a similar approach when scoring it...
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 03/04/03, Updated 03/04/03
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