By Paul Hunter
Let's travel back in time for a moment to 1999 when Ubisoft released Rayman 2: The Great Escape for the Sega Dreamcast. Now add some minor graphical updates and stereoscopic 3D gameplay and you have Rayman 3D, our loveable hero's first adventure for the Nintendo 3DS.
First things first, if you've played the original Rayman 2 or any of its remakes such as Rayman 2: Revolution for PS2, Rayman 2 Forever for Game Boy Color or Rayman DS then there's nothing here to warrant shelling out the money to for yet another faithful port. If you've never had a chance to play this classic platforming game then this is the definitive version and is definitely worth looking at, read on.
There's a reason why this game is still enduring eleven years after its release, it has a charming storyline, balanced and diverse gameplay, and packs at least ten hours of game time (15+ for those true completionists out there).
The story goes that our limbless hero is on a quest to save the vibrant world known as the Glade of Dreams from the clutches of Admiral Razorblade, an unruly pirate who controls a legion of ruthless Robo-pirates. Razorblade is a rather heinous fellow, having smashed the powerful Heart of the World into a thousand pieces and scattered them across the land in the form of glowing yellow "lums". With the world weakened, the horde of Robo-pirates set out to capture the world inhabitants as slaves for the wicked pirate master to control. The shattering of the world's core also diminished our champion's power and it's now up to Rayman to gather all 1,000 lums while also freeing the world's inhabitants. During his quest Rayman is helped by his friends Globox, Ly and the great spirit of the world Polokus who tasks our hero with finding four mystical masks that when gathered will restore his mighty power and enable him to do away with the villainous pirates.
Over the 19 levels in the game there is a set number of lums to collect and imprisoned creatures to free, and if you manage to find them all additional unlockable areas also become available. The Glade of Dreams is a diverse place with mountains, lush forests, deep underwater passageways, and vast pirate ships. While Rayman only has a few basic moves such as jumping, swinging on "purple lum" hooks, and firing glowing balls from his arms, there are also plenty of gameplay additions that keep the action fresh. For example in one stage you'll waterski off the back of a giant snake, in another you'll tread water as you race to avoid being eaten by menacing teeth, and you'll even tire out a rocket so Rayman can mount and ride it at breakneck speeds.
The core gameplay is without a doubt very satisfying, and the game retains its charm even after more than a decade. Problems that plagued the original version are still present however, such as the occasional camera clipping and finicky controls, although these issues have been reduced noticeably. Still, you can feel the game is dated, which I suppose can be good or bad depending on how interested you are in retro gameplay experiences. The 3D effects are great for the most part, but every now and then I found the screen was blurry forcing me to readjust the position of the Nintendo 3DS.
Even with the hiccups the game looks great and perhaps even better than its Dreamcast counterpart. A few of the 3D effects, such as the butterflies and other creatures that inhabit the land sometimes literally pop out of the screen, and the magic balls the Robo-pirates shoot can fly in your face which is pretty neat.
No matter how you slice it, Rayman 3D is a fun game and has many interesting areas to explore and hidden objects to find and collect. It was a fantastic game when it first came out, and while it's no longer the best the genre has to offer, it's still a solid title with much to recommend. If you've never experienced the world of Rayman 2, this is the best version yet and provides hours of enjoyable gameplay.