Back in the 90s, it seemed like every gaming company needed their own mascot. Of course, everyone who was born in the 80s or earlier knew of the epic battle between Mario and Sonic. It was a very big deal back then for every gaming company to have its own Mickey Mouse to use as a symbol that would convey timeless fun for all walks of life, including small children. During the 90s, we witnessed many mascots jumping, running, swimming, flying, and stomping.
Some of them would eventually be forgotten over time (Bubsy, anyone?). Some of these mascots, though, would return to grace us with their presence, and remind us of the days before Halo, God of War, and Call of Duty. On that note, the newest portable gaming platform has resurrected a gem from the very late 90s with the newest plaforming game from Ubisoft: Rayman 3D.
First, I must warn you that Rayman 3D is not a brand new game that takes complete advantage of the power of the 3DS. Instead, Rayman 3D is a port of the classic Dreamcast title Rayman 2: The Great Escape. I remember playing this title only very briefly back in the day. Rayman was always a franchise that I had a respect for and I found the games to be very good; just not what I would call “Triple A.”
Rayman 3D has you playing the part of Rayman, a very strange creature that lacks arms and legs, but seems to be held together by some crazy magical power. The overall world of Rayman is like some kind of beautiful cartoon nightmare; as if Disney were invaded by the likes of Invader Zim. This game is also bursting at the seams with charm that is conveyed in many of the game’s characters. One of my favorite inhabitants in the game are a race of creatures called the Teensies. They don’t know which one of them is king, so they just pass a crown to each other; funny stuff.
The story involves a group of robotic pirates from outer space who have arrived in Rayman’s world to enslave its inhabitants in little cages littered throughout the land. Rayman will have to use his energy spheres and helicopter hairdo to free the imprisoned creatures and defeat the evil Razorbeard and his band of metal shipmates.
The basic gameplay has Rayman traversing worlds or areas in search of the magical lums, which are kind of like fairies. Rayman also has to free the inhabitants of the world, and will run into many crazy characters along the way. At first you will play through many unoriginal environments including forests, caves, and water areas. Later, you will encounter cooler areas such as factories and a hot air balloon ride. At first, you will be jumping and shooting your power fist ball, but then you also be able to do wall jumps, and climb on many of the walls and ceilings in the game.
The graphics in Rayman are a mixed bag to be sure. The decade-old graphics smack you in the face immediately when you start the game. I had hoped that Ubisoft would have taken the time to improve some of the muddy textures, but it would seem that just porting Rayman to the 3DS was the main task at hand. The world within the game is good enough so that the lack of modern textures doesn’t diminish the overall experience too badly. Also, the 3D effect in Rayman is very good. This is one of the only games on the new handheld that makes objects come out at you. As you see the butterflies flying right in front of your face, or the silly fly creature, Murly, the 3D effect only reaffirms the fact that this should have been a proper remake.
Overall, Rayman 3D is a nice throwback to old school platforming; a good playing, but muddy looking, 3D extravaganza. The game was in need of some graphical improvements, but a port with really nice 3D effects will have to do. The world of Rayman and the game’s charm make this title still worth checking out. This could have been the “must have” launch title for the new handheld, but instead Rayman 3D is only a side purchase for new-comers, or an obligatory purchase for long time fans.
Review copy provided by publisher.