Review by Couch Tomato

"Why even bother?"

I'll start by saying, Rayman doesn't have too much of a reason to exist. Ubisoft added a useless character to the roster of the many platform mascots in 1995 as the mediocre game Rayman marked Rayman's debut, but unfortunately, others have a reason why they've been successful. Mario's platforming is timeless and simple fun. Mega Man is complex and offers great level design. Castlevania is action-packed to no end. Crash Bandicoot captures small blasts of each of these and combines them into something charming and pleasant. Sonic can run fast, and there's something so appealing about that. Then there's Rayman; similar to a protist in the Life Kingdom, he's been placed in the “other” category made specially for him and all the mediocre, movie licensed-based games.

Then came the very fun (but still nowhere near the best) Rayman 2. It wasn't that successful, but it was a great platformer. So then UbiSoft releases the (EXTREMELY clever game name, by the way) next Rayman 3. But while the big consoles are getting another taste of another diversion (an average platformer, as Rayman has always been and continue to be), the GBA, as always, is getting a run-of-the-mill side-scroller. But, hold the phone. Beyond its disguise, you can clearly tell as soon as you play the first few levels, this a dumbed-down 2D rehash of Rayman 2, to put it crudely.

The basic rundown: Rayman was hanging around with his pudgy, moronic friend, Globox who apparently thought it was a good idea to swallow a dark, evil lum (a lum is a strange thingie that gives off energy), cleverly named “Hoodlum.” Then the story goes into something strange. For whatever reason, Globox all of a sudden finds himself in Captain Razorbeard's lair, the primary villain in Rayman 2. So I guess Rayman has to go save Globox. Too many plotholes go unnoticed; what integral part does this Dark Lum play in the story? How the hell did the Dark Lum have a relationship with Razorbeard, and why does he go straight to Razorbeard and have no actual role and isn't even mentioned thereafter? I guess they lazily meshed together the stories of Rayman 3 and Rayman 2. Besides, this plot is terribly clichéd and is a poor excuse to set you up with a couple of levels to romp your way through. Typical imitating-of-better-side-scrollers crap, but you can't expect anything better from UbiSoft, I guess. If I am going to play a game, I should at least have an incentive to play through. This game doesn't even give me that much.

So the game sets you through four typical side-scrolling worlds: a forest, a haunted place, a lava place, and a metallic place. Wow, they were really being creative there. And four worlds don't seem like enough variety, to add insult to injury….Anyways, you are in these typical levels where you climb up ladders, jump over platforms, hang on to ceiling, punching enemies, your basic stuff. You're collecting power lums throughout a level to help you get stronger…I dunno, really. Don't be fooled; they're really “coins” in disguise, ripped straight from the Super Mario games. Could they make things ANY simpler than that? Why don't you bother to show us that you want to stick out of the crowd, Rayman, why don't you try and stray from the formula for once? I mean, really, why can't the games be something more than “jump on the trampoline, kill the enemy?”

The levels are extra-long, which doesn't really help because you'll fall asleep just trying to get past the first part of the side-scrolling. To be fair, there are some half-hearted attempts to be creative. For example, in one level you're crawling on a spider web to escape an enemy spider. Other times you can fly for short periods of times, and you have to refill your flying gauge by picking up blue lums. But not only do these segments last too long, but they're a lot more frustrating than rewarding. Then there are these racing stages where you are in a Mode 7 type place and have to race around for no reason, collecting lums. These diversions are a fresh break from the normal pacing of the game, even if they feel like they were put there at random.

You won't get accompanied by fascinating enemies, though. For one thing this game is lacking them. There are only about 6 different enemies in this entire game, and 3 that are dominate: A big-nosed ugly thing that floats around mindlessly, a dark lum thing that tries to swerve at you, and a space pirate that can shoot easily-avoided plasma beams. Even the bosses show weaknesses. The sad part is, out of the whopping 5 boss creatures (astounding, folks), not one of them (including Razorbeard himself) have more than two tricks up their sleeves. One of them is this strange eye-ball thing that looks suspiciously like Mike from Monsters Inc. All he does is throw these platforms that you have to hit and jump on. Then you just need to duck at his high attack and then low attack. That's kind of funny, normally when I play a game an attack pattern for a boss is completely random. It's almost as if the bosses don't know you're there, and are just doing their attacks the way they were programmed. If Raman serves out of the way for an attack, the bosses won't care, for they have a severe lack of AI. So you can probably see the designers didn't feel like programming any good enemies, and I'm not saying that just to discredit UbiSoft; I'm dead serious.

Now that you know Rayman's pathetic reputation, you won't be surprised to know that UbiSoft didn't bother to add an incentive to go back and play the game. Okay, so there is multiplayer, and there are bonus levels. But I need a link cable to do any of that, eliminating the point.

To reflect on what we learned, Rayman 3 is nothing more than a pathetic cash-in on the Rayman name. Rayman himself brings nothing new to the ancient, rotting table. Collecting something? Check. Roaming through levels with platforming pranks? Check. Completely copying Mario? That's definitely a check. Why even bother to buy this game when there are so many better platformers out there in the GBA's over-saturated library?

Recommendations of this Genre: Castlvania games, Mario games, Crash Bandicoot games, Mega Man games, Kirby games, Sonic the Hedgehog games.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 12/13/06


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