Review by Endz0r
"No limb platforming at its best."
Rayman has rose to the top of platform gaming in the last couple of years ever since the release of the first Rayman across multiple platforms. The games come out quite often, every couple of years or so, and continue to provide good gameplay, graphics, and animation, along with some puzzle added in. Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc for the Gameboy Advance continues the tradition started by UbiSoft in 1995.
Being new to the series, only playing Rayman 2 for Dreamcast and Playstation 2 without getting very far, I do not really understand the story too well. It seems that Globox, Rayman's friend, has eaten a Dark Lum. What that is, I do not know. While Rayman is complaining to Globox about having to be dragged along in another adventure, Globox disappears in a puff of smoke. News of the ill eaten Dark Lum spreads quickly across the land to the pirate Razorbeard, Rayman's adversary.
Rayman must now search for his big boned friend risking his life across multiple worlds. His companion fairy Ly, along with some teensies, will help him along the fifty plus levels giving him powers, as well as reminding Rayman that he forgot to defeat a level and he can not continue to the next world until he does so.
Rayman 3 is the typical 2d platform game, where jumping around and collecting lums is your priority. You also start with a helicopter move where you use your hair to glide for a short amount of time. Along the way, Ly will enhance Rayman, giving him powers such as the ability to use both hands in combat, being able to helicopter around when eating a blue lum, and using his body to break wooden bridges. The makers of Rayman 3 could have given you all the powers from the very beginning, and the only difference in the game would be that you could collect more lums. I see it is as more of a replay factor more then an essential part of the game. For example, in the first level you do not need the power up punch, but if you want to get all the lums you will have to go back when you receive the power in order to break the wall that is impeding your way.
Another interesting gameplay aspect of the game is the 3d mode 7 levels. In one of the levels, you use Sam the Snake to drag you across the water, while avoiding mines and bombs, as well as jumping over land. In the other mode 7 level, you assume the control of a hovercraft and are required to make three laps around a lava-bordered track. Where you get the hovercraft and why you are required to race around the track are beyond me. There is no explanation from the story at all. Regardless, the controls are flawless, smooth, responsive, and everything else you want in a platform game.
The difficulty of the game is right where it should be. Each level in the later worlds will take at least a couple of lives to get the hang of. There will be fits of frustration as you figure out how to beat a certain level or boss, but what game worth playing does not give you the urge to throw your handheld under a train?
Just like all Rayman games, the graphics are there. They are very original, and cartoony. The bright colors and exaggerated details make the land as cartoony and detailed as possible and it looks like there was a lot of patience put into making sure that even the smallest of details are not overlooked. The only exception to this rule are the mode 7 levels. While I am sure that Ubisoft did the best it can considering the lack of 3d power the Gameboy Advance has, these levels are disgusting compared to the rest of the game. They are pixelated, uninspired, flat lands that kill the flawless design of the game. Overlooking this part is easy though as there are only a handful of levels that are mode 7.
The animation is on target again, of course. Every detail, from Rayman walking, to Rayman jumping, to Rayman climbing, is painstakingly included to give gamers the best possible graphics experience from the Gameboy Advance. The enemies, especially the bosses, are animated really well, giving an overall experience of joy just from the graphics.
The audio is just as well done as the graphics. It is a very happy themed game, so the music is also very happy. While it will not receive its own music video, the sound adds what it can to keep you from just hearing Rayman walk around and shoot his enemies. The music adds to the cartoony atmosphere as well.
Like most platform games, you will go through this game once, and then put it into your sock drawer. Rayman 3 is no exception. The game will last you a couple of hours, and if you want, you can go and collect the lums that you missed in the beginning. Doing so will unlock special features like extra multiplayer levels. Wither you feel like getting all 999 lums and 50 trapped creatures is up to you, but at least UbiSoft put the option in the game to give those who love the game some other options then the sock drawer. I have also read that you can get extra options from the Gamecube connecting feature.
The game is one of the best offerings of platform that the Gameboy Advance has received. It's combination of gameplay, graphics, sound, and extras make this a game that you cannot pass up. If you love platforming games, this is the game for you. Even if you do not like platform games too much, it would still be enjoyable for you to pick this game up and run through it once. It is an experience that is rare among today's games.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/25/03
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