Review by Jeet Soon Kai
"Finally, a three dimensional platformer done right"
Here it is, the platformer based in the third dimension that feels exactly like it should. While purists will argue, ''well, what about Zelda: Ocarina of Time? It had basically the same controls and was released FIRST''. The answer is simple: Zelda wasn't a platformer, it was an action RPG. The most basic definition of a platformer is a game that moves in incremental levels and primarily consists of jumping from one plane to the next (as opposed to puzzle solving).
The problem is that this is extremely hard to do in three dimensions--or, at least every game before Rayman 2 has made it seem that way. A bad camera angle can make your next jump look either too close, or too far away. Sometimes you can't even see where you're trying to jump and have to go on faith you're heading in the right direction.
Rayman 2 is nothing but right directions.
If I ever missed a jump, it was through my own stupidity. The camera center button, while first realized in the Zelda series, true, has never been give proper representation in the realm of platforming. Here, it is a godsend. Nothing is missed--the only things that are hidden from view are the things that are meant to be. Everything in this game feels intentional, nothing feels compromised (not an easy task).
While I have gone on record many, many times about my ongoing hatred for camera buttons, I will cut Rayman its well-deserved slack. Why? Because, unlike its predecessors, the camera buttons are NOT necessary. With the exception of the camera center button, the others are never needed to realize your next task. The question then remains: why have them? To realize the surrounding world.
And oh, what a world Rayman lives in. Everything is lush and beautiful, or wonderfully sinister. Streaks of light pierce through the forests as butterfly hover around you for no other reason than to remind you just how brilliant this game is. Also, Rayman 2 has the fortitude to look like a three dimensional cartoon without compromising to the over-simplified cell shading technique found in just about every other game since Jet Set Radio.
But, I'm rambling, so let's break it down:
If I never see a Panzer Dragoon or a NiGHTS sequel on the Dreamcast (and the chances are looking bleak of that), I will be thankful for having known the world of Rayman. It is so overflowing with detail and imagination and style... ah, style. Style is what makes a game look impressive. I don't care what the resolution or polygon count is, without a sense of art direction and personality, you might as well not even try.
From the Pirates, to the Teensies, to the Fairies, to the inhabitants of the Globox Village, all the way to Rayman himself, no one can argue that this game isn't entirely its own.
Even brilliant in this department with its language. Like the Panzer Dragoon series, Rayman has a vocalization all its own. It sounds like gibberish with hints of French and English thrown into the mix. I can imagine the voice actors sitting down with the dialogue script for the first time and saying, ''huh''. Also, points go to the catchy soundtrack and over-emphasized sound effects, thus continuing the cartoon theme.
Games just don't play any better. They can't. Rayman 2 celebrates the long-forgotten joy of playing games. Today, it doesn't matter how a game plays as long as it has a great story. Their objective seems to be more about getting to the next cut scene, rather than the next level. It's at that point the game becomes an interactive movie and the players can't even call themselves video games fans... only film buffs.
Thank you, Rayman, for reminding us of the pure and simple past.
While the outlining story seems to be rescuing your friends and saving the world from the evil robotic Pirates, the true objective is something I've never seen in a game: to become smarter. By collecting the 1000 Yellow Lums, you piece together knowledge of the origin of all living things. This is a truly inventive premise in a game that would have already been revolutionary without it. Be thankful for small miracles.
These days, if a game doesn't play past the 30 hour mark, it's too short to own. I am utterly repulsed by this thinking. Yes, Rayman 2 can be beaten within a week. But that week will be one of your greatest. Not to mention that the game is packed full of extras that will extend your experience well beyond the mandatory 30.
This is why we started playing video games in the first place. Rayman 2 pure entertainment and fun without being overly complex. It does everything right. It doesn't overshoot to be something more--it doesn't have to. Perfection in its simplicity.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 08/27/01, Updated 08/27/01
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