What was Ubi Soft thinking, releasing a platformer against a Mario game? Did they really think that Rayman could be as good as Mario Advance? I don't think it's as good as Mario, personally. I think it's better.
Forget Mario Advance. Yeah, you heard me, forget it. Though Nintendo’s launch platformer is a great title, in my eyes, it’s in a solid second place in the platformer category for the GBA. Rayman is too beautiful, fun, and unique to pass up if you’re a fan of the genre.
Ubi Soft has provided us with a port of their early Playstation title, and an excellent port it is. The environments are lush and detailed, the game runs smoothly, and the characters (not just Rayman) are animated beautifully. Who would of thought you could pack so much character and persona into a character with no limbs?
Rayman himself moves fluidly with a plethora of various animations. Whether he goes from a surfing pose, to a crying stance, an aggressive punching attack, or even posing behind a painted billboard with a face hole cut out, the transitions are always seamless. No matter what Rayman is doing, you will always notice him on the screen. The enemies and other characters look beautiful and different as well. As certain enemies duck your attacks, you’ll see the whites of their eyes through the cut out eye holes in their hats. A French looking bug shoots bullets out of his gun, which promptly open up, revealing a mechanical arm waving around a hammer, all this happening as it whizzes through the air.
The mechanics make this game very enjoyable. At first all you can do is walk and jump. As you progress through the levels, and the game, you will meet up with a female character who grants you new powers, ranging from punching, to hanging, to gliding and so on. Early areas which were once unattainable are now opened up thanks to your new abilities.
The main objective of Rayman is to free what the game calls ‘Electoons’. For each stage, there are 6 different cages which hold these tiny creatures, which you must destroy to free the little critters. There are multiple stages, usually around five, in each of the six worlds. Each stage has multiple levels within, so there is a lot of exploring to do. Finding secrets is quite fun, and usually consist of manipulating the environment (such as bouncing and floating fruit) to attain anything from an extra life to a bonus stage.
So far I have found Rayman very enjoyable, and a great surprise. Fans of the original who are looking to go back in time will find the game to be true to the PSX version, and gamers like myself who never owned the system are in for a treat. Even though it lacks a multiplayer mode, I would still recommend this title over Mario Advance. Look for a full review coming very soon.