Rayman 3D: review

Rayman is Ubisoft’s original platforming mascot and has starred in several console launches in the past, including the original DS. This version is based on the superior Dreamcast version Rayman 2: The Great Escape. It was hailed as a classic at the time but, after over a decade, has time caught up with the limbless hero?

The 3D effect works well in Rayman 3D, and helps the gameplay in some situations.

Rayman 3D is set in a world called the Glade of Dreams. This tranquil setting is turned upside down by the arrival of Admiral Razorbeard and his army of Robot Pirates, who set about destroying the Heart of the World. This neutralises the resistance strength and takes away Rayman’s powers, which leads to him being captured. He is imprisoned with his old friend, Globox, on the pirate prison ship. Globox gives Rayman one of his powers back which enables him to escape and start hunting for four magical masks, that will help him defeat the Pirates and awaken Polokus, the spirit of the Glade of Dreams.

Rayman is controlled with the new Circle Pad, which works surprisingly well; with a slight push on the pad making the character walk slowly, while a stronger push makes Rayman sprint. The jump and fire buttons are assigned to the analogue buttons, with the camera being controlled with the front shoulder buttons. Surprisingly the touch screen is not used at all, which we feel could have been used for some additional mini games that weren’t part of the original.

The old throwing the exploding barrel trick.

With the absence of Mario from the 3DS launch line up, Rayman 3D fills the platformer category, but it hasn’t aged at all well. After playing the sublime Super Mario Galaxy 2 this game feels uninspired, and is sadly bereft of any new ideas to compensate for the decade old game. The stock platforming levels of forest, lava etc have been seen a thousand times before, and the gameplay is your typical platformer, with Rayman needing to traverse the levels by jumping, flying, and swimming his way through them. There is the odd simplistic puzzle to solve, and the rescue of the occasional Lum (when you have acquired a certain number, the world opens up further). The Pirate enemies, who hinder your progress, can be despatched by firing glowing orbs in their direction and they are insultingly easy to take down. In fact you need only stand in front of them and keep firing – without the need to  dodge the pirate’s own fireballs – to remove them from your path. Rayman’s powers are upgraded as you progress through the game, with a built-up charge shot and increased flying abilities unlocking as you play through.

One of the original game’s bugbears was the camera, which had a habit of pointing you in completely the wrong direction. Unfortunately this has not been entirely rectified with this new game, and the camera regularly gets its angle wrong and sometimes what you’re doing can be obscured by a piece of foreground scenery. This can be extremely frustrating especially in the later levels. For example, in one stage you need to traverse lava fields on top of a giant plum (no, really). Some of the levels are good fun though, with one featuring Rayman sitting on top of a rocket that fires through the level, and another where he waterskis behind what looks like the Loch Ness Monster, being particular highlights. These are made extra special with the 3D effect, which adds a lot of extra depth to the sequences. There are also plenty of bonus levels and time trials to be unlocked, including a race against a pirate which involves button mashing of Hyper Sports proportion. However, we found this very awkward with the analogue buttons, which forced us to contort our hands into a quite uncomfortable position that would be better suited to a game of Twister. Surely the L and R shoulder buttons would have been better suited?

The enemy Pirates are easily disposed of.

The 3D effect in Rayman 3D is well utilised, and the sense of depth does give the game that extra feeling of immersion. Fireballs streak out toward you, barrels whizz past your ears, and butterflies flutter out of the screen at you. It’s just a shame that the levels aren’t as inspired to make better use of the effect. We feel a game designed from the ground up with this feature in mind will be able to utilise it better to the benefit of the gameplay. However some of the platforming sections have been improved, with the 3D effect aiding perilous jumps or aerial descents.

Rayman 3D is certainly no Mario beater, and although young children might enjoy it, there’s just not enough on offer here to warrant a £30 purchase along with your shiny new Nintendo 3DS console. You can, after all, get the App store version for £3! It’s not a bad game by any means, but the camera issues of the game, combined with the lack of inspired new ideas and challenging enemies (and rapidly ageing gameplay) combine to make Rayman more shovelware than must-have software.

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Written by Kevin M

I’ve been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70’s. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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