Review by MBelonio

"Levels get progressively more difficult, but gameplay is so diversified and each level is refreshingly new."

Reviewer's note: I like to compare all platform games to the one that redefined the genre, namely Super Mario 64, so you'll definitely see references to that great game in this review.

Story: 9.5 Like Mario, Rayman's out to save the world from the resident bad guy. But Rayman's not out to get a piece of some Princess' cake; instead, he has to save a bunch of his best friends who have been caged up by the evil pirates, as well as some tens of thousands of slaves. Seems a lot more fulfilling and noble to me than saving some blond for food.

Video: 9.5 With the Expansion Pak, the visuals easily top everything else in the N64 library. The backdrops are beautiful, with effects like clouds and rain. The characters all look great, with that cartoony stylestraight out of a comic book. The levels are enormous, and when you are in 1st person perspective you can really see out for miles.

Audio: 9.5 Tons of different tracks, none of which are catchy enough that you'll be humming them on the way to work tomorrow. At the same time, they aren't awful or annoying; in fact, they go with each level and each type of gameplay (i.e. just walking around offers mellow music, while fighting enemies or riding the rocket offers something more exciting).

Gameplay: 10+ Here's where the game REALLY shines. Think of the gameplay as SM64 on steroids. There are so many different aspects of gameplay, and even variations of variations. This isn't your run-of-the-mill walk around, jump, and collect stuff game. Sure, there's level exploration and item searching/collection, but the way you go about these tasks differs almost entirely per level. For instance, in one level Rayman water-skis with the help of a friend. You have to dodge enemies and obstacles, as well as collect all the Lums in your path. On another level you can ride like the lone ranger on the back of a walking bullet. And on yet another level, you actually fly a pirate ship and shoot stuff down. And there are even variations of the variations! For example, part of one level has you surf down a huge slide, a la Super Mario 64. However, in another level you slide while being chased by a monster; hit too many obstacles or go too slowly and you're toast. Levels like that really bring out the adrenaline rush in you.

Also, There are loads of enemies to mow down with your power fist. These not like the enemies in SM64 that walk around aimlessly until you are almost standing next to them. These enemies chase you. These enemies shoot at you. They want to mess Rayman up bad. There is even an enemy that leads his shots, forcing you to rethink your dodging strategy. In addition, there are some really nice puzzle aspects. For example, you have to figure out a way to get a friend who can only walk (can't jump like you) from point to point in a level. Lastly, the bosses and TOUGH! And they're not just the kind you shoot down, either; each boss level has a certain puzzle you have to figure out in order to win. In short, there are so many different aspects of the game that take it away from the general run-and-jump variety but keep it in the category of a dedicated platformer.

Replayability: 10 I'm giving it a 10 here because the gameplay and level design, although EXTREMELY difficult in some cases, really makes you want to complete each level. Plus, there are some levels which you just can't complete until you visit some later levels. And the water-skiing level is just so damn fun! I think players will be going back to this game again and again for these reasons.

Summary: This is definitely the hit of the season for N64. Beautiful graphics, levels that completely immerse you into the popeye-esque environment (you know, that movie with Robin Williams), variations on variations of gameplay, secrets, and just the fact that it's an all-around GREAT platformer make this game definitely one to buy. And the Expansion Pak is a must, even though the game still looks pretty good in low-res mode.

If you can only afford to rent games, then make sure you rent Rayman 2 on Friday afternoon and cut yourself off from the rest of the world until Sunday night, stopping play only to eat, sleep, and ... well, you know.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 12/14/99, Updated 12/14/99

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