Remakes seem to be the order of the day when it comes to the initial titles for Nintendo’s new 3DS. With titles like Ocarina of Time seeking to completely re-invent the games of yesteryear, Rayman 3D sits in the opposite camp being a carbon copy of a twelve year old platforming gem. The title is somewhat misleading, but make no mistake. Rayman 3D is an exact replica of 1999’s Rayman 2: The Great Escape, and those who’ve played that game before need not even give Rayman 3D a second look.
If you happened to miss out on Rayman 2, the basic gist of the story involves Rayman and co. attempting to escape from a group of robotic space pirates who have invaded Rayman’s world and are holding him and his friends captive. In order to take down the pirate menace, Rayman must travel to regain his powers and restore the masks of Polokus: The spirit of Rayman’s world. This basically entails you going through largely linear worlds as you track down the masks of Polokus. You also have to collect yellow lums to unlock later levels in the game and upgrade Rayman’s powers so that he can traverse the game’s increasingly difficult challenges.
The levels themselves are fun to go through, with some sensible design and secret pick ups drawing you in. The look and feel of the levels are also varied and interesting, which is a luxury many games don’t offer. Rayman 3D, like the original it’s modelled on, has a unique feel. Imagine Walt Disney and Tim Burton meeting halfway and you have a rough idea. The weird and wonderful characters Rayman encounters along the way are a major boon for player engagement, and have that perfect blend of one part charming and one part oddly creepy.
Rayman negotiates his way through the levels in classic platformer style. You move with the analogue nub, which works surprisingly well, and you can jump and shoot with the B and Y buttons respectively. The platforming and combat in Rayman is simple and easy to get into, with a quick pace that will keep you on your toes. It’s fun enough in short doses, but times have changed. Whilst older gamers will appreciate the retro appeal of Rayman 3D, its bare-bones mechanics can’t compete with the increased variety that our modern day industry has to offer. The camera also has a tendency to be a bit fiddly. It can occasionally jump around at random, and its Dpad controlled nature often makes it a tricky beast to tame.
What also keeps Rayman 3D from being a must buy is the transparent nature of the game’s port. It’s been over a decade since Rayman 2, so a graphical touch up would have been seriously in order. The only real addition to the game’s visuals is the stereoscopic effects but, honestly, the 3D doesn’t add a huge amount to the experience. It’s also often difficult to find the sweet spot for viewing the 3D images in Rayman 3D over other 3DS launch titles. The sound too is rusting in its old age. The proper voice acting seen in Playstation versions of Rayman 2 is painfully absent in the remake, and the intermittent and sparse use of sound effects in the game feels like a missed trick. What got my bacon more than anything else was the poor quality of the audio. Peaks, crackles and distorting segments of audio are not acceptable in any modern game, so why they are here is beyond me. A poor show considering how far presentation in gaming has come since the original title in 1999.
I feel almost guilty giving Rayman 3D such a mediocre score as, despite a few rough edges here and there, it is a unique and enjoyable adventure that almost justifies its retail price. The key word here being almost for, no matter which way you try and look at it, Rayman 3D is a lazy port of a once brilliant gem. Rayman 2 is a fantastic game but, like a museum piece, its former excellence is fossilised beneath year’s worth of dirt and rust. If you haven’t played the original Rayman 2 and are willing to put up with a few issues here and there, then give it a go. If you were expecting the first 3DS killer app or have had any kind of contact with Rayman 2, then give this one a miss.
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS.
A fun game if you missed out on Rayman 2, Varied and intriguing levels, Classic platforming gameplay, A weird and wonderful world to traverse. Story offers a fair amount of play time
Dodgy textures bring down the visuals, Sound is of a terrible quality, Virtually unchanged from the 1999 original, Feels outdated, Old-school gameplay can get repetitive, 3D effects are fairly mediocre
A solid platformer that will be all too familiar to Rayman fans, Rayman 3D is a carbon copy of Rayman 2 that is starting to show signs of age