Rayman 3D

Rayman 3D
Rayman 3D Cover
Platforms Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Windows, iPod Touch
Genre Rayman 2: The Eighth Port
MtAMinutes to Action 3
Keep Playing? For a bit
Buy from Amazon

Platformers may be my favorite genre. Maybe I'm a product of the era I grew up in, when so many developers tried to beat Super Mario Bros. at its own game. Most failed, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the multitude of games that celebrated the uncomplicated joy of running and jumping skillfully across tricky terrain.

That said, the move from sprites to polygons did not treat the platformer kindly. So many of the colorful characters that were born in two dimensions were simply confounded by a third axis. I can only think of a handful of 3D platformers I've really enjoyed, and almost all of them begin with the words "Super Mario." To be fair, my standards are very high, and my definition of "platformer" is quite narrow as well.

And I've missed out on more than a few fondly-remembered 3D platformers, one of which is Rayman 2: The Great Escape. Originally released for the Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast, Rayman's first sequel (and first step into 3D) has become a cult classic of sorts. It's at least popular enough for Ubisoft to revive the game for the 3DS, just as it had seven years ago for the launch of the original Nintendo DS. Actually, according to Wikipedia, this game has been ported from the Nintendo 64 to Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, iPod Touch, and PC, in sum.

So how does Rayman 2 hold up after ten years and two ports to a picky platforming purist like me? And do the 3DS' stereoscopic visuals add a significant difference to the experience, as Nintendo claimed they could?

Minute by Minute

00 - Pirate ships soar across the water...make that above the water, since they're flying pirate ships. Pirate airships?

01 - The two smaller ships arrive at a larger pirate ship. Guess that's the mothership. The mother pirate ship?

02 - Robot soldiers drag some kind of big blue...thing through a prison. It gets tossed into a cell with...Rayman! The whatever-it-is is named Globox; he and Rayman are friends, which I learn via subtitles as the two speak gibberish. Globox smuggled in a Silver Lum, which grants Rayman the ability to shoot his fist. I guess that's his trademark ability. And I guess it's enough to bust them out of prison.

03 - Rayman says the two should go see Ly, the fairy, who can give him his powers back. I guess I get started on that now, since I'm playing. The circle pad moves Rayman.

04 - Sliding down a tunnel now at high speed...the 3D effect looks pretty cool here, scrolling the terrain from the distance right into my face. Globox follows Rayman through the sloping tunnel. The two fall out the bottom of the airship, falling all the way down to the ground of what appears to be a jungle.

05 - Murphy, a bee with a hideously large smile, approaches the now grounded Rayman. He'll be our guide for this adventure, it seems. The 2D butterflies floating close to the screen make good use of the 3D effect...if only they weren't so flat and pixelated.

06 - Press B to jump. Y to throw a ball of light (I thought he was supposed to shoot his fist?). Hit down on the D-pad to call Murphy in for help. I break open a cage to free a Yellow Lum, the game's collectathon object, like the power stars in 3D Mario games. There are apparently a thousand(!) of them.

07 - This is definitely the game with the most noticeable 3D effect so far, wasting no opportunity to pop butterflies off the screen. It's borderline obnoxious, really, like those movies that are specifically made to be viewed in 3D and a shark or something lunges at you (and everyone else in the audience) off the screen. Kind of surprising for a port of an N64 game.

08 - I can point the camera with the L trigger. This keeps the camera behind Rayman, and he sidesteps around in this mode. I guess that helps for aiming at enemies.

09 - In mid-air, I can press the jump button again to make Rayman's hair(?) spin like a helicopter, slowing his descent. Rayman can also cling to certain walls for climbing.

10 - A bunch of little critters stand in front of a cave...seems these are Globox's children. Rayman promises to find Globox and bring him back once he finds Ly the Fairy. The Globoxlings let Rayman know that Ly was taken through the cave.

11 - Hmm, maybe Yellow Lums aren't really like Power Stars. They're more like coins, lining paths through the stage rather than acting as the endpoint. I've already collected like ten of them.

12 - I freed some little blue dudes from a cage. "Splendid, Rayman! We are the Teenies." There are four of them, all identical save for the one with the crown. Another steals it and claims to be the king. They continue to argue over which is truly the king before revealing that Ly the Fairy has been taken to the Fairy Glade by the pirates.

13 - They open some kind of vortex, and Rayman dives right in. This seems to be the world map screen. I move Rayman to the next vortex, the Fairy Glade.

14 - The Fairy Glade appears to be a swamp full of big mushrooms. I bounce off the top of one of them and grab onto the bottom of a giant vine stretching from one wall to the other. The framerate is kind of crappy...really unexpected considering how old this game is.

15 - I continue to climb into a cave wall, and pick up a Red Lum. These refill health. A swamp pool is ahead, with lily pads to jump across and piranhas to avoid.

Rayman 3d Waterfall

16 - Continuing the journey through the swamp, doing some light platforming across platforms jutting out of the wall...

17 - Seems I've come full circle to where I started, now on top of the vine I was hanging from before. Bust a cage, grab a Yellow Lum...

18 - ...and a Green Lum. These act as checkpoints, reviving you at that spot when you die. The game doesn't seem to have any lives to collect, so I guess there's no real Game Over, either.

19 - I head up to some pistons near a cave wall, and ride the rising ones into a cave. The game loads the next area...

20 - Climbing up a tree...sliding down a water slope...climbing sideways along a wall...a piranha fish jumped up and snapped me off the wall, pulling Rayman into the water...I revive at the previous Green Lum, not far back.

21 - I've come to a pirate ship, beached in this swamp for some reason. A robot jumps out from the cabin and tosses bombs my way! I can't seem to attack it from here, guess I have to explore...

22 - I find a cave going behind the ship, into another swamp area. Jumping lily pads...

23 - A ladder leads up closer to the pirate ship from the swamp area. I'm up to 14 Yellow Lums now, out of the thousand in the game.

24 - Hmm...not sure where to go from the top of this ladder. I guess I'll head back outside the pirate ship.

25 - Ah, there's a covering over the ground here. The pirate throws a bomb onto it and blasts open an underground cave. Another robot attacks, and I take it out by throwing those light-ball things at it. My first combat! I can hold L to keep the enemy robot in my sites, a la Zelda's L-targeting.

26 - I've come into the hull of the pirate ship now. There's a switch ahead, guess I have to press it to deactivate the forcefield blocking my path. Can't reach it from here.

27 - Enemies actually seem to lead with their shots. If I'm sidestepping to the right, it shoots at where I'm going to be when the projectile arrives. Pretty clever, keeps combat from feeling too mindless.

28 - A powder keg....Looks like I can pick these up and throw them at things that could use a good explosion. The wall ahead looks structurally unsound...it breaks away, and I climb further into the ship.

29 - There's a trampoline floor ahead, with a laser sweeping back and forth across it. I finally make it to that switch I saw earlier and open up the door ahead.

30 - More force fields, more switches ahead, continuing further into the hull.

Rayman 3d Rocket

Half Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 3

What I liked

Tim Burton presents...I hate Rayman's character design. It's flat out awful. Otherwise, I'm enjoying the fanciful interplay of creepy and silly that the sound and stage design brings out.

Not your average collectathon: I nearly turned the game off when I learned that I would have to collect a thousand doodads throughout the adventure. When converting the traditionally-linear platformer to 3D, most developers decided to pack their sprawling polygonal stages with innumerable knickknacks to collect in every nook and cranny, forcing the player to painstakingly explore every single inch of every single level. Thankfully, Rayman 3D's Lums appear to mostly inhabit the beaten path, lying mostly in plain sight through the linear paths while occasionally inhabiting alternate routes and hard-to-miss side areas.

What I didn't like

The goggles...they do nothing! I'm actually sort of impressed that such a dated game can run at such a low framerate on brand new hardware. The 3D effect, while very pronounced, highlights the less-flattering features, like pixelated 2D butterflies hovering directly in front of the action.

Other thoughts

Rayman has no life: There doesn't seem to be a life system in place, and therefore no 1ups to collect. When his health drops to zero, Rayman just starts at the last checkpoint, no delay or death or anything. How progressive!

Would I keep playing?
For a bit. The core gameplay is hardly worth talking about, but I guess I can see why it turned a few heads in the late nineties. It'll have to pick up soon to keep my interest much longer, though.

In 3D? I guess so. It's a shame the effect accentuates some of the game's unsightly features, because it does add a bit of depth to the rest of the visual package.

Rayman 3d Cast

Words from beyond the first Half Hour: After a few hours with Rayman 3D, I think I've had enough.

As far as I can tell, this is an untouched port of the N64 and/or Dreamcast game, warts and all. If you've played the game on a previous system, then you know what to expect and whether or not it's worth your dollars. If not...well, unless you have a fondness for N64 platformers that isn't rooted in either Super Mario 64's acrobatics or Banjo Kazooie's scenery-scouring completionism, then this probably isn't a game you should buy alongside your brand new 3DS. The basic run'n'jump isn't too bad, but things take a turn for the worse when Rayman starts wakeboarding or goes toe to toe with a huge boss.

From what I've experienced, Rayman 3D is a pretty straightforward 3D platformer without much to differentiate it from its original peers and enough technical shortcomings to keep it from being one of the system's showcase launch titles.