Review by WishingTikal
"A wondrous platformer like no other"
I remember when I first played Rayman on Saturn; its colorful and imaginary worlds were mesmerising. Ubisoft managed to create an unique universe that was both captivating and dreamy. It was a tough and challenging 2D sidescroller, but one of the best. When Rayman 2 came out, it made the transition to 3D, but didn't lose any of its charm; it even outpassed the original. Taking a few elements from platformers like Banjo-Kazooie, it also retained the core and feel of its Saturn days, resulting in one of the most beloved platformer of its time.
For a game that was originally released in 1999, Rayman 2 still looks stunning. The beautiful and whimsical 3D worlds the game is made off seem right out of a dream. They kept that little touch from the 2D game, with detailed textures that appear almost hand-drawn. Although the game was already very good looking on Dreamcast, it looks even better on PS2, with added textures and background elements. The characters were re-modelled to today's standards and the color palette was toned down. As a result, the game doesn't look as gloomy as the original; instead it looks a lot more light and illusory, but it takes off a little something from the game; I personally preferred the darker look. Otherwise, it's still the same, so expect some sharp edges and thin paper walls that you can see right through when the camera bumps into them. Regardless, for a game that came out eight years ago, it's still gorgeous. Rayman's fascinating world sparks with creativity and that's what make it so appealing -- it's a artful masterpiece.
It's also still the same gameplay-wise. The order of the levels has been changed around a bit, some very small areas have been replaced, mini-games were added, but it's the exact same experience, renewed. The only major difference is the addition of the hub world. Originally, you would select levels from a list -- now you can walk around Rayman's world in three all new levels that connect all the different stages together. It adds a whole new depth to the game and makes it feel more full-fledged. The new levels were apparently made with the same graphical engine, so they don't look out of place. You can still notice a small difference with the original levels because it just looks so good, but it fits right in with the rest. The only real drawback with that version of the game are the frequent and lengthy loading times, and occasional slowdown that wasn't present in other versions.
If you're not familiar with the game, it's a mix of straightforward platforming levels and more open-ended ones, a good re-take on the old-school formula. Following a series of adventures to save his friends from the robot pirates, Rayman must go through several picturesque locations from his home world and overcome the many obstacles on his way. Although the main goal is to get from start to finish, fairies (Lums) are cleverly hidden around the levels, something that you will need to come back to for a 100% game file. With the Lums that you gather, you'll be able to buy new powers for Rayman, powers that you will need to revisit past levels and find hidden areas that you couldn't access before. In other 3D platformers, this could feel like a chore, but the levels in Rayman 2 are so fun that it's a pleasure to look through them again for secrets. Despite the game being relatively easy, the platforming is just so varied that there is never a time you can feel bored with it. Everything you do from a minute to the other is different. The platforming elements don't just feel thrown in randomly like in other games; everything falls right in place and exploring Rayman's quirky world is a fantastical experience. It's not just mindless platform jumping, but well-thought level designs with clever ideas like the missile riding. The only downside is that although the levels are varied as well, most of the levels take place in similar locations; the infamous woods, swamps, mountains, volcanoes and graveyards. I wouldn't have minded a snow level.
Sound-wise, the music in Rayman 2 is still as enchanting, with epic tunes just at the right moments, making the adventure feel even more engrossing, something that is hard to come by when it comes to platformers. Most of the game's music is calm and often goes unnoticed, but it's perfectly fitting to the mood and atmosphere. Rayman 2 also relies a lot on sound effects, and they're simply awesome. The outlandish SFX give life to Rayman's world and the creatures inhabiting it. The voice-acting is great too, although the recording quality itself isn't as good.
Rayman 2 is still one of the best platformers ever, and an adventure you shouldn't miss if you've never played through it. It's so magical you might even want to replay it for nostalgia. Obviously, it's an older game, it has some faults, but it takes you into a world like no other, with eccentric characters that you won't forget so soon. It definitely stands the test of time and is the perfect example developers should follow when making a 3D platformer.
Replay Value 8/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/30/08, Updated 01/31/08
Game Release: Rayman 2 Revolution (US, 01/30/01)
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