Who says platforming heroes need arms and legs?
There was a time when Rayman was Ubisoft’s top franchise, and was thus heavily relied upon. A high-end marketing budget was poured into each new release in the franchise, with a lot of hype generated around new releases as a result. The gaming industry has seemingly moved on from many of the big name platformers, with only the likes of Mario and Sonic surviving. Rayman has proved to be an exception to that rule following the release of Rayman Origins last November though. It was a game that was up against all the odds, and, despite a slow start to sales, Rayman Origins has ended up as a real earner for publisher Ubisoft following widespread critical acclaim from publications across the world. It’s because of that success that a high-definition re-make of Rayman’s third major outing has been made. And upon re-visiting the game in its new graphical glory, the industry should give thanks that it did.
From the off, the good work of the team that transformed the game into high-definition is immediately evident. In fact, the opening cinematic looks incredible, and could easily be mistaken for a game released in this generation. These graphical standards are not quite matched throughout the entirety of the game’s ten-fifteen hour length, but in comparison to other current-gen remakes on the market Rayman 3 is certainly at the higher-end of the scale, which is particularly impressive considering it’s a downloadable title. That being said, credit is also very much due to the art direction of Michel Ancel on the original game, which still looks fabulous to this day.
There are a number of things present here that weren’t available in the original game as well. Your high-scores automatically go onto a global leaderboard, where you can compare your highest scores with friends as well as the rest of the world. This may seem like a simple feature, and it is, but it’s important that it’s been implemented due to their cult-classic status the original game built up. I can imagine there’s going to be some stiff competition between fans of the game for the top leaderboard position over the coming months.
Along with the graphics, the sound has been re-worked, with classic Rayman tunes sounding better than ever for Rayman 3 HD. Rounding off the additions is trophy/achievement support, with some interesting trophies to go after, including one that had me up at a ridiculous hour trying to complete. Massive kudos to anyone that can do an entire disco trip without dieing!
The game in itself is where the value lies, however, and so I’m happy to re-report that Rayman 3 is one of the best platformers of its generation, and is a worthy purchase for fans of the genre that either want to give it another playthrough or managed to miss the original game back in 2003. The plot follows Rayman’s fight against the hoodlums, who are evil black ‘lums’ hell-bent on destroying the universe. The real personality the story has in abundance comes from the way the game constantly pokes fun at other platforming adventures that take themselves a little too seriously. Sarcastic undertones are ever-present, and the game’s humour manages to be suitable for all ages without ever seeming childlike. In fact, I’d go as far to say that Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc remains one of the funniest game’s I’ve ever played.
Gameplay is also notably strong, with the ability to lock onto enemies and fire straight or curving shots (with damage dealt by Rayman’s floating hands). Fights against hoodlums, and all manner of other cartoon like foes offer up different challenges, and therefore combat can get quite tactical, as you’ll have to jump and dodge to avoid being hit by oncoming bullets and bombs. Rayman can also use a variety of temporary power-ups, which are used both in combat as well as to progress in the game. These power-ups include the ability to fire mini-tornado’s, electrical grapple hooks and even remote-controlled rockets at enemies. This constantly changes up gameplay and thus keeps Rayman 3 fresh for its lengthy single-player mode.
One thing that does serve as an infrequent annoyance is the game camera, which can often go behind wall or other object’s whilst in battle, leaving you blind. It doesn’t really detract from the overall experience, but it would have been nice to see an effort to get it fixed for the current-gen remake, as it does serve as a big give-away that this is in fact a last-generation game.
Once you’re done with the single-player game, which took me around fifteen hours (although probably manageable quicker with less exploration), there are nine mini-games which are unlocked as you earn points in the main game. They’re a great distraction and tie-in with characters from the main game, but unfortunately the inability to post high-scores means that they’ll get stale very quickly for most people.
There are a few things that are absent in Rayman 3 HD that left me a tad disappointed though. Gone is the awesome intro video featuring Groove Armada’s divine record ‘Madder’, which could have potentially looked great with HD upscaling. Also missing is the hilarious ‘Tom & Jerry’ inspired short video’s entitled ‘Wanna Kick Rayman’. These’s slight gripes by no means take away from the overall experience, but as nostalgic Rayman fan their absence is rather unfortunate. You do, however, get exclusive artwork for Rayman Origins previously only available with the collectors edition of the 2011 game, which is a nice touch.
All in all, however, Rayman 3 HD is a blast to play. It’s well worth the £7.99 admission fee and more, and will no doubt provide those that do make the plunge with hours-upon-hours of old school platforming fun. The issues rarely detract from the experience, leaving the game’s array of positives to shine through at every turn. Whether you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing this wonderful adventure or want to play in again and make waves on the world leaderboards, Rayman 3 HD is one of the best value-for-money buy of the year so far.