Review by horror_spooky

Reviewed: 04/18/11

Forget yesterday...

A major characteristic of the 3DS is the amount of “rehashed” titles that were present at launch and that have been announced. Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is a port of a pre-existing console game, and remastered versions of classic Nintendo 64 games have already been announced, like Ocarina of Time 3D and Star Fox 64 3D. Rayman 3D is notable for being a port of a game that has been ported to nearly every system ever made. This is my first time playing any version of this game ever, but if you’ve already played through any of the previous iterations of Rayman 2, then there’s no reason to keep reading this review.

Rayman 3D is a direct port of the Dreamcast version, with added 3D effects. The game is a three-dimensional platformer that features some really excellent platforming and level design. While I felt the scope of the game was perhaps a bit too big to cram onto the 3DS’s screen at times, the game still play well, with great controls and a ton of gameplay variety.

Unlike many platformers of the same nature, Rayman 3D doesn’t have a focus on constantly replaying the same level to complete different objectives. On the contrary, Rayman 3D has its main focus on providing solid platforming gameplay. The levels are short, fast-paced, challenging, and above all, fun.

The platforming segments are complemented by the vehicular parts and the occasional boss battle. Over the course of the game, Rayman will ride a rocket and pilot a pirate ship. These moments prove to be just as entertaining and challenging as the rest of the game. There’s also a slight puzzle element in the game when exploring the levels, and overall, Rayman 3D is a platformer that covers a lot of bases and blends a variety of video game genres successfully. It never really gets boring, and the variety in the levels, including parts where gravity becomes all topsy-turvy, reminds of the Wii masterpiece, Super Mario Galaxy.

Simply put, I think this game is fantastically made. The gameplay is excellent, the level design is great, and there’s never a dull moment with Rayman. However, it’s the technical things and little details that bothered me enough about this game to lower its score from a nine to a seven, but regardless of its flaws, Rayman 3D is still a very awesome platformer at its core. Fans of the genre need not look any further, especially if they can’t decide what else to buy for their 3DS post-launch, or if they haven’t experienced this game before on a different system.

Rayman enters each level by way of an overworld map. However, there’s no indication to let players know how many lums are left to collect or cages to break in any of the levels. While it’s required to collect at least some lums (fairies that also serve as checkpoints when they are green and a way to replenish health when they are red) over the course of the game, lums are a major factor in the replayability of Rayman 3D. Unfortunately, without these indications, players literally have to enter a level, hope that they haven’t collected everything, and then back out of the level if they had. This is a horrible system, in case you couldn’t tell, and while the game is still enjoyable in spite of this, I didn’t appreciate the convenience of one of the most basic features in video games until playing Rayman 3D.

What makes this even more frustrating is that the touchscreen isn’t used at all in the game, except to display information. While the total number of lums and cages left to be collected and destroyed is a helpful bit of information, the game wastes space displaying the masks Rayman has left to collect in order to complete the storyline and the game. They even stay there after Rayman has found all of the masks, which is achieved just by going through the levels, and is completely necessary. This space could have gone to, I don’t know, displaying the lums/cages left in a specific level. It’s also disappointing that the touchscreen isn’t really used, the dual screens of the 3DS aren’t used in a unique or meaningful way, and there’s no motion control or microphone support. Rayman 3D is a straight port, I know, but if you’re looking to play a game that effectively uses the 3DS’s unique capabilities, Rayman 3D is not the way to go.

In terms of the actual 3D, Rayman ranges from painful to amazing. The 3D in Rayman is too intense at times, even with the slider turned down, but I don’t blame the 3DS. I blame Ubisoft. They failed to utilize the 3D correctly in many instances. During cut-scenes, it is not uncommon for two different images to be separate and then to combine together as the cut-scenes roll on. Ghosting is a serious problem in Rayman as well, especially during cut-scenes, but even throughout the entire adventure. This is hard on the eyes, and makes the simplistic cut-scenes even less enjoyable. On the bright side, there are times when the 3D in Rayman absolutely shines. The pop-out in this game is very impressive, with leaves of plants sticking out in my face, and with Rayman himself appearing to be out of the screen on numerous occasions. The depth in this game is also quite impressive, and the layering effect is used to show dialogue and is crisp and clear. If only the awesome 3D in this game was more consistent…

The music in this game is great, but unfortunately, audio issues plague the experience. Once again, I put the blame on Ubisoft for lazily porting the game, but oh well. This problem is frequent especially with the volume turned up to max, but the quality of the sound is awful sometimes. It sounds like static, and is just as hard on the ears as the bad 3D is on the eyes. It’s a shame because the background music is really good otherwise.

The actual graphics in the game are adequate. While textures aren’t as detailed or fleshed out as they could be, the character models are nice and the environments are done well. There’s no lagging or slowdown, plus the game has a lot of bright and vibrant colors. Unfortunately, serious pop-in occurs during the faster vehicular segments, and the game has a tendency to crash. Rayman 3D crashed on me multiple times, especially towards the beginning of the game. These technical issues are inexcusable, especially when Rayman 3D is a direct port of a game that has been ported probably more times than any other game in history.

Another big flaw that Rayman 3D suffers from is the playtime. The game can be completed, 100%, in about ten hours, and even less if you’re skilled. While I don’t really mind if games are all that short, getting 100% in ten hours is a bit crazy. However, the gameplay is still fun, and that is what matters the most. I can handle a short gaming experience as long as it is one of quality.

Rayman 3D is a giant mixed bag. The gameplay is so damn solid and good, but the technical issues, the inconsistent 3D quality, and the audio problems weigh it down. I had a blast playing the game personally, but it would have been so much better if these issues were ironed out, and I really feel as though there’s not much of an excuse on the part of Ubisoft that these issues exist in the first place since Rayman 3D has been around for over a decade now. I recommend that if you haven’t played through this adventure yet, then Rayman 3D might be what you’re looking for, but keep in mind that there are plenty of cheaper options, like downloading the game off the PlayStation Network, for instance, or just tracking down a copy of it for one of the main systems it was released for.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Rayman 3D (US, 03/22/11)

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