Rayman (3DS VC) Impressions
After years sidelined by the insane antics of the Rabbids, Rayman finally returned to our screens last year with the superb Rayman Origins, a title that not only managed to challenge Nintendo’s crown as the platforming king, but also look fantastic while doing it. The game has since appeared on multiple platforms, with the 3DS release arriving a few weeks ago, albeit to a mediocre response thanks to a poor port being produced. Nonetheless, Rayman’s popularity is at an all-time high, and Ubisoft are naturally keen to capitalise on this.
And what better way to excite the fanbase than to give them a rare opportunity to play through one of Rayman’s first adventures again on 3DS? Thanks to the 3DS Virtual Console, this opportunity has been made possible, allowing Rayman’s self-titled Game Boy Color adventure from 2000 to make a re-appearance and remind fans just what made Rayman such a classic a decade ago. But does this 12 year old platformer still offer the excitement that Rayman Origins can now provide?
It’s worth pointing out that while Rayman on GBC is labelled as a port of the 1995 Playstation original, the similarities between the two are minimal. There’s a titular character called Rayman who is missing limbs, there’s an evil enemy called Mr Dark and there’s a lot of platforming to do between you and him at the outset. And that’s where the similarities stop. If you’re looking to play the original game, then head over to DSiWare; this is a new adventure which lends from the original, but has been streamlined for a handheld gaming experience.
The story is classic Rayman fare, with your mission being simply to save the captured Toons (oddly shortened from Electoons) who have been imprisoned by Mr Dark. The game hands out exposition sparingly, placing the storyline in the background for almost the entire game, allowing you instead to focus on what this is all about – platforming.
The 8 themed worlds borrow heavily from the original game, but each level is a new take on an existing theme, with each world containing 3 or 4 distinct stages. On the whole, the platforming feels like classic Rayman, with levels ranging from careful and precise platforming to the manic sprint stages that made Rayman Origins so chaotic. There are a few moments where the game grinds to a halt, particularly with the hidden switches that need to be activated to progress, but overall the gameplay is fun and engaging.
As the game has been streamlined for a handheld, the stages themselves are reasonably short, which makes Rayman ideal in short bursts, but may seem overly easy during long sessions. This is countered by some unclear progression paths in some levels, which can bring you to a dead-stop while you figure out a way forward, often caused by foreground scenery being unclear, something which you will eventually get used to. Rayman on GBC is also missing the boss battles that appeared in the original, except for the final showdown with Mr Dark, aiding the streamlined feel of the game, but losing part of the original experience at the same time.
Throughout the adventure, Rayman gains a handful of new powers, which can then be used in previously completed levels to free more of the caged Toons. These powers range from the traditional helicopter hover to being able to sprint, with its absence being all too apparent in the slower earlier levels.
One of the standout features of the game are the graphics, which when you consider how old they are, look incredibly vibrant and colourful. Rayman in particular is well animated and full of character, and the worlds are all well presented, creating that typical Rayman feel. The vibrancy does cause a few clarity issues at times, particularly in the forest levels, but on the whole, the graphics are extremely impressive for such an old game.
Rayman also has a good audio presentation, with cheery tunes backing the exciting action on screen, mixed with various beeps for enemy kills. It’s simple, yet very effective. One thing that will be all too obvious to long-time Rayman fans though is the fact that the music used in this game is not from the original Rayman, but in fact from Rayman 2; while not a deal-breaker, it is a curious choice that will no doubt be all too apparent to dedicated fans.
One of the interesting features of the original Rayman was the UbiKey, a key that when discovered in-game would allow for an infra-red connection between two players, unlocking additional content. The connectivity capability has been removed, but the Key and prompts have not, leaving the feature entirely intact in-game. While it is now obviously old technology, the 3DS is more than capable of infra-red transfer, so it seems odd that this feature has simply been disabled.
Overall, Rayman is a nostalgic treat for any Rayman fan, and will be of particular interest to gamers who discovered the series with Rayman Origins. The gameplay and style feel very similar to its more recent counterpart, and while it’s not the port of the PlayStation version it appears to be, it is a fantastic Rayman adventure perfectly suited to a handheld console. If you can look pass the minor issues caused by taking such an expansive game and putting it onto a Game Boy Color cartridge, then there is a lot of fun to be had here.