Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rayman 3D Review

As a kid, I had been interested in the Rayman series, being the platformer lover that I was (and am). At around 5 or 6, this resulted in me unknowingly buying a racing game, Rayman Rush, and from what I remember, it was a fairly mediocre one at that. I lost all interest in the series until this year, when a friend got a 3DS. The only game he had for it was Rayman 3D, a remake of Rayman 2: The Great Escape, which was a very highly regarded platformer during its day. Recently, I went over to see him and, having very little better to do (as he was experiencing the awesome puzzleness of Portal 2) and interested to see what I had missed way back when, I decided to play it through until the end. Here is my opinion of Rayman 3D. (Also, this is my first review for a 3DS game. Yay.)

(NOTE: This review is really dumb and gets so many details blatantly wrong that you'd think it was written by IGN. Don't trouble yourself with it. ~T-Man 2013)

Rayman 3D is a 3-D platformer starring Rayman, a…thing…with a huge nose, two long…ears?...antennae?...is it hair?...and floating appendages that aren’t connected to his body. Well, that’s totally not weird at all, right?

Seriously, just what the heck IS Rayman?

Regardless, Rayman’s primary moveset includes a “magic fist,” which allows him to throw magic orbs that ricochet off of walls and other surfaces and serves as his main means of attack; holding himself up between two close-together walls, during which time he can move along the walls and even jump from where he’s hanging; and the ability to spin his…"ear-hair-tennae"…around like a propeller in order to slow his descent from a jump. As the game progresses, the power and versatility of these abilities will increase. Not far into the game, Rayman is able to use his “magic fist” as a grappling hook to swing from ring-like, purple fairies by simply shooting at them, and later can charge it up for a more powerful shot. In addition, in one level only, Rayman is able to use his propeller ability to fly.

Unlike a lot of 3-D platformers from the late 90’s, Rayman 3D is not inspired by, nor is it a clone of, Super Mario 64. Instead, Rayman 3D takes a fairly linear approach that focuses more on straight-up platforming than exploration, which leads to one of the game’s biggest strengths: the level design. Rayman 3D's levels feature lots of fun platforming and, especially for its time, a good amount of variety. From using an indestructible plum to cross a lava flow, to lighting a powder keg with a torch and using it to fly to your next destination, to riding a missile with legs through an obstacle course as if it were a highly combustible horse, Rayman 3D definitely knows how to keep things interesting. It's really not hard to see why it was so highly regarded back in 1999. And yes, you do all of that stuff in the game. And yes, it is ridiculous, but at least it’s not out of place in a game where I can’t even tell you what the main character is supposed to be, right?

But although it’s not a Super Mario 64 clone, the game isn’t devoid of item collecting. Far from it, actually. Scattered throughout the game’s levels and sometimes even trapped in cages are yellow fairies referred to in-game as “Lums,” and there are times when you will need a certain number to access a new area. There are 1,000 in the game, although to complete the game, you aren’t going to need nearly that many. Now, if you DO get all of the yellow Lums in a level, as well as break all of the cages, you are allowed access to the bonus stage. In it, you must help one of Rayman’s friend Globox’s babies win a race by tapping the "A" and "Y" buttons repeatedly. If you win, a fairy will fully restore Rayman’s health....but considering that most of the actually dangerous hazards in the game kill you in one hit, (in which case, you’ll respawn with full health anyway) it’s honestly kind of useless. In addition to yellow Lums, there are red Lums that restore your health, orange Lums (recognizable by their demented grins) that seem to extend your health if you get enough, green Lums that act as checkpoints, and blue Lums that replenish some of Rayman’s air when he’s underwater.

Unfortunately, fun as the gameplay and level design are, there are several reasons why I would advise against putting down a full 40 bucks for Rayman 3D. First of all, the graphics really haven’t aged well. The framerate can get really shaky at times, and a good deal of the objects in the game are just flat, 2-D images or textures, most glaringly the thorny vine obstacles and pits, the animations of which are just laughable. And don’t even get me started on the backgrounds. Granted, the 3DS has only just been released, but when one of the first games shown for it at E3 looks as good as a GameCube game, it really makes one wonder why they didn't take more time to improve the graphics. The 3D feature doesn't do much to make the game look better, either. In fact, it only makes a difference when objects are close to the screen. Also, the sound quality (with the exception of the music) is pretty bad as well, even if you’re wearing headphones. Most notably, the Klonoa-esque gibberish spoken during cutscenes is virtually inaudible.

In addition to that, even if the game’s combat system was serviceable back in the day, it’s pretty lackluster now. As stated earlier, Rayman’s main means of attack is shooting glowing orbs at enemies. Combat pretty much consists of holding “L” to strafe and avoiding your enemy's attacks while holding the “Y” button to charge your own attack, or, if you can’t use the charged shot yet, tapping the “Y” button repeatedly until the enemy’s dead. Don’t get me wrong, I know not to expect much from combat in a platformer, but in most platformers, normal enemies usually take one hit to defeat – two or three at the most. Nowadays, if you’re going to give non-boss enemies a health bar, you need to make combat interesting than this.
Fortunately, combat takes a back seat to platforming, but there’s a flaw that hurts that, too: the camera. The camera is highly uncooperative, sometimes even going outside of the level, and makes areas where you are supposed to swing from the ring-like fairies especially difficult because you can’t always see where the next one is. It doesn’t help that the game provides no means of controlling the camera except for centering it behind Rayman’s back by pressing the “L” button, and even that doesn’t help much sometimes.

On top of all that, the game is…pretty short. I was able to beat it over the course of a single day. Granted, it was a dedicated day on which I had very little better to do, but even so, a single day is still a single day. Now, I know that no platformer is that long – in fact, Sonic Colors, which I gave a 9/10, is just as short as Rayman 3D. But before you start calling bullcrap, allow me to clarify something: for me to recommend a short game for full price, the experience either needs to be top-notch the whole way through, or the game needs to have the replay value to back it up. Sonic Colors succeeded in both areas. Rayman 3D does not succeed in either.


Rayman 3D is most certainly an enjoyable platformer, sporting fun and varied level design, but with all of its flaws taken into account, 40 dollars is a lot to ask for it. I can’t be sure if the framerate and camera problems are exclusive to the 3DS version, considering that I’ve never played any other version of the game, but even if it weren’t for those flaws, the lackluster combat system and short length would still drag it down quite a bit. Still, if you’re a fan of platformers and haven’t already experienced the game on another console, you might want to check this game out once the price drops a bit.

Score: 7/10

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