Poor old Rayman. A few years ago, our French superhero was practically verging on superstardom. In the land of Marios and Sonics, platform games with mascots were all the rage, spawning a number of heroes who, sadly, haven't faired all that well against that arch bad guy, Father Time. Managing an impressive three full games under his belt - and one minigame collection, in the form of the first Rayman Raving Rabbids on the Wii - Rayman was looking to be the mascot that stood the test of time. At least, that is before the Rabbids - who only started out as an appetiser to Rayman's main course - absolutely swamped the poor guy in terms of popularity.
It'll be interesting to see, then, what happens when the 3DS launches, as platforming star Rayman will be going head to head with his old nemeses, the Rabbids, with each having a game available at launch (and you can find what we thought of Rabbids 3D here).
If you've ever played a Rayman game before, you could be forgiven for looking at the above screenshot, and thinking it looks a bit familiar. You'll be thankful to know that you're not just going a bit crazy, and there's actually a very good reason for that, as Rayman 3D is actually simply a 3D version of Rayman 2, a platform game that's so far seen a release on the N64, Dreamcast, Playstation 2, PC, iPhone, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 1, and Playstation Network on the PS3. Talk about being desperate to get a return on your investment...
Now seeing life on its ninth platform, which has to be something approaching a record, the 3DS version is a modified version of the Dreamcast game, which, along with being the most graphically impressive version of the lot, also came with a bunch of exclusive minigames - something we hope will be being repeated for the 3DS version.
Far from being content with simply releasing the same game, again, however, Ubisoft have gone back to the drawing board with a lot of features, with an eye to making the game more accessible than it was in its heyday, where platform games were the land of the grizzled gaming veterans.
Playing as the hapless hero, Rayman (something of an odd choice to star in a platforming game, thanks to his complete lack of any arms or legs), Rayman 2 pits our man against the dastardly Admiral Razorbeard, who's leading an invading force of Robot Pirates into The Glade of Dreams - a land where, funnily enough, dreams take place. Far more intelligent than your average robotic sea farer, Admiral Razorbeard doesn't mess around, and heads straight to the Heart of the World, blowing it into a million (well, a thousand) pieces, rendering our armless chappie somewhat, well, ‘armless. Stripped of his powers, Rayman is captured by the pirates, along with his friend, the Cookie Monster impersonator, Globox. From there, it’s up to them to burst out, and restore the land of the Teensies back to its former health, by collecting 1000 lums, and four masks, which have been spread across 45 levels of platforming fun...
Despite not having any arms or legs, Rayman’s quite an athletic guy, with a variety of moves at his disposal for traversing the levels. Whether it’s swinging from the strange hoops that have eyes, and flutter about, or jet-skiing behind a dinosaur as it races through a swamp, there’s a huge variety of things to see and do, with plenty of levels to explore - and something extraordinarily French about the lot of it. The developers estimate it’ll take around 15 hours to complete the game, although obviously, that depends a lot on whether you manage to find all the collectibles on your first run through, and also how much you die.
Luckily, dying is something that should happen significantly less when compared with the original game, as for Rayman 3D, Ubisoft have seen fit to shake things up here too. We’ve been assured that the new game will have a vastly changed, and greatly improved learning curve and camera, making it much more accessibile for newcomers, helping players of all levels of experience find their feet, rather than dying repeatedly – and maybe this time, our very own Sarah will be able to get past the waterskiing bit.
But while there can be no complaints about the length of the game, or the quality, we do have to wonder why Ubisoft have chosen to publish Rayman 2 again. While it’s fine for newcomers to the series, Rayman starred in three full platforming adventures, so it's not like there's no choice. His last game, Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, would have been a great pick for a 3DS version – especially as it's been converted far fewer times than Rayman 2 has in the past.
For those who're new to the series, there are few reasons to not look into picking up Rayman 3D on launch day. It's a quality, if somewhat old platform game that Father Time's been pretty kind too - and with its improved difficulty level, if it's your first run through, we can only imagine it'll still have that same fresh feeling that led us to spend so long playing it as children. With so few real additions for the 3DS version, however, for those who’ve played one of the many other versions, the line between buying and passing is a lot more murky.
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