Ubi Soft's mascot character has returned with a brand-new title for the Game Boy Advance titled Rayman 3. This installment brings the series back to its 2D roots with an exciting and engaging adventure that will take players through several huge worlds. As you'd expect, Rayman battles a variety of pirate hoodlums, but now has many new abilities and moves. The Laser examines Rayman 3 and finds out why this latest adventure again represents traditional platforming at its best.
The Rayman series has always been one of the most inventive and beautiful platform games on the market, and this new installment for the Game Boy Advance carries that tradition forward with an excellent mix of action and strategy. As the game begins, one of Rayman's pals, Globox swallows the dark lord and begins acting strangely. Then, Globox disappears and its up to Rayman to find out what happened to his friend. However, Rayman isn't alone in his quest because his friend Murfy will give him advice whenever he sees him. For a portable title, this is a surprisingly robust and deep game, which offers many hours of play for both single and multi-player action. His adventure will take him through many different worlds and levels, each one presenting a unique set of challenges and obstacles. Rayman doesn't have limbs, but this doesn't mean he's defenseless. In fact, the hero has several powerful moves and attacks at his disposal including his trademark fist attack and the helicopter-move that he can use to fly for a short time.
There are many familiar elements but Rayman 3 introduces several new abilites that keep the series fresh. Some of these moves are ingenious such as the new move where Rayman can break the ground from the air. This is quite helpful in uncovering secret areas. Additionally, he can now use both his fists simultaneously to inflict more damage on opponents. Rayman can also use a new super-helicopter move to fly even higher. Aside from this, the game doesn't diverge to far from traditional conventions. You'll spend a lot of time exploring the levels while collecting Lums along the way. Lums are multicolored orbs that are scattered around the levels. The Lums come in different colors and each color has a different function such as giving him extra life. Rayman is also rewarded when he collects a certain number of the yellow Lums, which he can then use to get to other areas. Along the way, you'll also find cages where the evil pirates have locked-up the various inhabitants of Rayman's world. Freeing these prisoners makes them happy, and they'll give him information and can even unlock secret powers. You'll need to find all of them on a level in order to progress to the next area, which isn't as easy as it sounds because they can be trapped in a difficult to reach area.
Fans of traditional platform titles should have no trouble getting into the game thanks to its intuitive controls and simple game structure. Rayman 3's gameplay is straightforward, with level designs that are challenging yet never seem excessively long. Players will face a variety of obstacles along the way, including long vines to climb, moving platforms and more. While the majority of the game is in 2D, there are some neat 3D bonus levels, which make for a nice change of pace but still fit in well with the game's overall atmosphere. Rayman 3's non-linear structure allows you to visit different levels in non-successive order by moving through different sets of curtains in the game world map. The game itself has an excellent pace that isn't overly taxing, yet challenging enough to keep your interest level high throughout. In addition to the nearly flawless single player mode, Rayman 3 offers some excellent multi-player mini-games. Players can choose to connect up to 4 players using the GBA's Link Cable, and can play several cool variations on Tag, where the player with the Tag on has to either hit other players or avoid contact with others. There is also a cool 3D mini-game where you control a bumper car and have to hit other players in order to win. These modes are pretty cool in and of themselves, but the Link Cable can also be connected to the Gamecube to unlock additional levels in the console game. The linking ability is a slick bonus feature that extends Rayman 3's replay value exponentially.
Visually, Ubi Soft has produced another winner that lives up to the standards set in previous Rayman titles. The game looks fantastic, even on the GBA screen thanks to the vibrant, colorful approach that makes everything feel like a living cartoon. As you'd expect, Rayman 3's character animation is silky smooth with a surprisingly high frame rate that keeps the action liquid. The gorgeous levels are colorful and vibrant, with much creativity and high-quality designs very much evident. Even insignificant characters and items are animated beautifully and this highly-polished approach gives the game's production values an incredibly high-quality look. Background music, voices and sound effects are likewise of high-quality, giving the total package an incredibly high quality that's very much appreciated, especially in light of the flood of poor shovelware on the GBA. On the other hand, you shouldn't overlook this, even in light of the other Rayman titles already on the platform. Rayman 3 sets itself apart from the pack and is a highly polished game that looks as good as it plays, and offers enough new elements to keep the series fresh. The controls are outstanding and the gameplay is challenging and addictive. Fans of the original game on the PS1 will definitely enjoy the series' glorious return to its 2D roots, while newbie players will definitely find a lot to like as well. Ubi Soft's developers have squeezed a lot of fun into this compact package, and Rayman 3 is an excellent value for the money. In Closing, Rayman 3 is a beautifully designed and highly addictive title that proves once again why the series is one of the platforming genre's best.
- Michael Palisano