Sunday, April 20, 2014

VGR Rayman 3

He's back, and this time the bad guys are amongst them!

Well, Globox just swallowed the main boss...

Michel Ancel's cartoony hero gets reviewed Eyz-style:

VGR: Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc or simply Rayman 3 and also recently retitled Rayman 3 HD 
From Ubisoft Shanghai/Ubiso
ft Montpellier/Ubisoft Entertainment
Played on GameCube
Also available on PC, PS2, Xbox, GBA, N-Gage, Xbox 360 & PS3

Type 3D platformer/beat 'em all
Year 2003

While Rayman creator Michel Ancel was otherwise occupied with the development of Beyond Good & Evil at the time, Ubisoft charged another studio with the production of a follow-up to the highly successful Rayman 2.

As such this third main entry in the Rayman series is the only one to not have been developed by Michel Ancel, while Ubisoft Montpellier only did some minimal work supervising the overall product.

This time the entire project was produced by Ahmed Boukhelifa. Ancel only really assisted regarding Rayman's new look which has since become Rayman's default modern appearance from this day onwards. He might have been busy with BG&E but they did manage to get him as a consultant so he could confirm some details here and there. 

Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc takes the familiar formula and spins it into a new much simpler straightforward arcade-like direction....

The plot sees one of "lums", the physical manifestation of energy in Rayman's world, turn into a dark lum one day (because it was apparently just frightened). That lum was called "André".

Now awaken, André starts spreading his new form to other lums nearby and soon the place is crawling with these dark lums. They start taking a more anthropomorphic form as "Hoodlums".

The Hoodlums start wrecking havoc...

Meanwhile, Rayman was sleeping nearby with Globox. Because these games always start with Rayman in the middle of a nap.

Long story short, André causes a mess, Rayman decides to help save the day. At some point Rayman's friend Globox swallows André by accident...!!

André tries to control Globox from within his stomach. Acting as a beacon, several Hoodlums pursue our heroes and finally capture Globox... It's up to Rayman to save his friend!

Along the way our heroes while battle hordes of Hoodlums of all shapes and sizes. Go see a doctor... Three times. Grind across rainbows. All the while André tries to have some villains join his cause...

And what if all this was simply an endless time loop...?

For the most part, Rayman 3 plays, looks and feels exactly like its predecessor... but...

This new episode features much more simpler levels, more straightforward and just plain linear. The game also emphasis combat rather than pure platform and exploration.

It's still a 3D platformer with for the most part the same general gameplay. Rayman can still jump and throw his fist with a punch. This time you won't obtain proper new abilities.

Instead Rayman can find some temporary power-ups. As if Rayman 3 was taking some gameplay cues directly from another Michel Ancel title, Tonic Trouble. Rayman can find new powers in the form of costumes. There's a green one that allows him to shoot powerful mini-tornadoes, a blue costume equipped with a grappling hook, the yellow costume allows a short flight ability, an orange one gives Rayman some missiles, finally a red power-up makes Rayman stronger...

They're not random and actually part of the level design. Used in short platform segments to learn how to use them, later featured in boss fights. You must learn to exploit them at best for later trickier puzzles.

Also, fun notice Globox is a partner controlled by the computer at some points. He won't be helping much but it's a nice addition. Later on once he ate André he will allow for new section to be opened up and new places reached...

This also marks the first game to ditch the level-selection map (you can replay all the way through, but for that you must go through menus to reload levels later on).

On the plus side, this was the first truly fully voiced Rayman! And it still feels odd for me at least to listen to them talk like that...

It's a Rayman a bit more straightforward and linear in its relative experience compared to both past previous titles.

The game looks great, the art style simply fantastic. Although to be honest not much changed since Rayman 2 (which was simply amazing at the time).

My real complaint with this episode is that it's a bit too much focused on combat compared to pure platforming. At times, with waves of enemies to defeat in some forced segments, the games feels more like a generic beat 'em all in my eyes...

Thankfully there are some fun great new additions as well.

Rayman 3 is the first game to include a scoring system. Basically, as long as you fight enemies, use items/power-ups and run from one place to another collecting stuff you can chain score-combos. The fast you go around the better your percentage-ranking is. Back then Ubisoft even held a worldwide score at the official website for fans, everyone could compete for the best score.

You can still find cages to break, but this time they are merely here for cosmetic reasons rather than completion. Breaking those will help Teensies that can either open where to go next, mandatory power-ups or simply bonuses when outside the main path and hidden in the background. The counter resets every 6 cages in the same level and carry on to the next, which will give you more maximum health.

Rayman 3 also has a funny sarcastic tone. Hey, it's just a video game! Rayman 2's Murfy is back and now breaking the fourth wall! They said he would have a better role in this sequel...

The game is full of meta-references. A new addition to the series!

As always a new Rayman means a whole new plot and all new setting, not necessary coneccted to the previous two games! These Hoodlums look darker but are kind of goofier than the pirates in the last game. The locations Rayman visits this time are really unique and interesting. Despite the plot taking him and Globox from one place to the next, they do feel a bit discontinued (a swamp, a manor, etc.).

Music is still a big part of the franchise. Between each new setting you will go through a short but difficult musical "grinding" stage where death means replaying a musical cue back. It gets tedious after a while...

The game is pretty long. There are a lot bosses. And while the game doesn't feel that difficult, there are some genuinely annoying tricky segments here and there.

The whole superpowers/costume aspect perhaps doesn't really feel at place with Rayman (personally..). Specially since it could have just easily been meer updates to Rayman's basic powers like the previous games.

The game features several unlockable mini-games, what would give us the "Rabbids" later on. On the GameCube you can use a link system with Rayman 3's Game Boy Advance port. Similar to Rayman 2's VMU connectivity on the Dreamcast, it allows access to some early Wii U-style multiple-screen multiplayer games.

There are some racing mini-games, sports, fighting... Using assets from the main game such as stages and enemies. It's fun, but kind of forgetable.

It also retro-actively unlocks levels on the GBA game.

There's also some Rayman 1 throwbacks, such as the 2D Madness sidescrolling minigame.

The whole costume angle would only reappear in the first original Ravin' Rabbits game following on the cancellation of the proper Rayman 4, before finally being completely discarded altogether and never found in the later Rayman Origins or Legends. It would really feel more at place in a new Tonic Trouble game instead...

Rayman 3 is a great game, though generally missing the Michel Ancel touch in its execution all over the place and a general lack of focus...

Overall, Rayman 3 is a great game in itself.

It is! I might have felt a bit negative above but it's a good game, mind you. But... It feels like it's missing some general cohesive in itself and regarding the rest of the series. Like there's something a bit missing from the overall experience... 

For a Rayman entry - a series regarded for its high standard in the platform genre - it doesn't feel as special.

Still, Rayman 3 is a pretty funny silly game with plenty of humor and great eerie musical atmosphere.

There are lots of unique random gameplay changes from time to time, which are a nice break from the principal beat 'em all formula (the game often stuck you in a place until all your foes are defeated). 

Sadly Rayman 3 was probably one of the less ported Rayman games in the entire series. So most people missed this episode at the time... Thankfully an "HD" port was recently made available for those who skipped it back then. Rayman 3 HD was digitally released for PS3 and Xbox 360. This "HD version" is actually a pretty simple and basic port with HD textures . Only really lacking its titular theme song "Madder" by Groove Armada.

I give it:
2 / 3 Bruces!

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