To celebrate the release of the brand new Nintendo 3DS, Ubisoft has dug deep into its vault to re-release 1999's critically acclaimed Rayman 2: The Great Escape. Not to feel left out of the 3D party, Ubisoft renamed the game Rayman 3Dand set it loose as part of the 3DS's launch lineup. This isn't the first time Ubisoft has ported Rayman 2 to another system; in fact, it is becoming rather common for platforms to have their own version of the limbless wonder's second game. Does this old classic stand up on the new handheld?
Chaos is erupting in The Great Forest, as the Robo-Pirates have arrived, ready to conquer and enslave the world. In the battle, the Primordial Core is destroyed, which leaves Rayman powerless and easily captured by the Robo-Pirates. From here, it's up to Rayman to collect the four masks of Polokus, save the world from the Robo-Pirates and defeat their leader, Razorbeard, once and for all.
Controlling Rayman will feel similar to anyone who has played a platformer. Your main buttons of choice will be B to jump (B again to activate the helicopter glide), Y to shoot energy balls, and the L/R buttons to shift the camera. The analog stick controls Rayman and is precise enough to handle the harrowing platforms that Rayman must traverse. Swimming uses the A button to descend and the X button to descend. This is a little awkward, but, luckily, swimming is not a major component of the game.
In addition to the standard energy ball attack, you can destroy enemies and doors with explosive powder kegs. You can also do other fun and zany things, such as run around on top of a rocket, neighing like a horse, fly on said rocket, fly on powder kegs, and traverse lava flows on top of plums. (Alright, so maybe that last one isn't so fun.) But all these strange occurrences fit right into a world that stars a limbless hero, so you don't end up questioning it that much, if at all.
Graphically, this game disappoints some, because it is the same graphics that could be found on the original N64/Dreamcast releases from long ago. That's not to say that Rayman 3D is an ugly game, but while The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is getting a graphical facelift for its upcoming 3DS re-release, Rayman 3D's straight copy-paste treatment feels unfulfilling. What is presented, however, fits in well with the game. Rayman explores vibrant locales such as glades, volcanoes, temples, and pirate ships. The environments feel somewhat archaic compared to more recent platformers, but they still create a whimsical charm that draws you into the game. In 3D mode, the world really comes to life. Creatures pop out of the screen as they trail behind Rayman, the grass kicked up by Rayman's feet flies out to your face, large descents feel breathtaking with the added dimension, as does swimming in 3D with the fish.
The game's audio is also taken straight from the original release and connects well with the environments you will explore. However, the audio does not always sync properly. For example, if you die while riding the rocket horse, you will be revived at the checkpoint, but still be hearing the theme music for the rocket horse. There are also some lines during cutscenes that end up not being "spoken" (in Rayman's gibberish speak) at all. Audio flaws like this did not exist in the original versions and it is a shame to see them now, 11 years later.
Because Rayman 3D is a port of an old platformer, the camera issues that were so prevalent at that time find their way into this game. It can be difficult to adjust the camera to the angle you want in certain situations, usually dependant on where you are in relation to walls. In 1999, we were used to this and it wasn't as big of a flaw as it is now, when gaming technology has improved rapidly. This is a part of the late 90s that is not a joy to see return.
Other than the inclusion of 3D, Rayman 3D does not use any of the additional features of the 3DS. You won't get any StreetPass features, any use of the gyroscope for motion control, even the touch screen is unused, as it merely displays how many Lums you've collected, how many cages you've broken, and how many masks of Polokus you've found so far. The complete lack of any additional content or control makes Rayman 3D feel bare bones and rushed to market.
Completing every level of Rayman 3D will take about 12-15 hours; a decent length for a platformer. Those who wish to scour every nook and cranny to find all 1,000 Lums and break all the cages will get many more hours out of the experience, giving this game excellent value for collect-a-holics.
Rayman 3D is like a tale of two games. On one hand, the game was criticially acclaimed upon its initial release, and even now, it is still a blast to play. On the other hand, the game is merely a bare-bones port of the original release, and in some cases (such as audio) doesn't even compare to the original release favorably. With the small amount of 3DS titles currently available, Rayman 3D fills the platformer genre gap well. However, there were many missed opportunities to improve upon the original game, and thus, Rayman 3D feels underwhelming.