Reviewed by MaxH
'A Playstation game? On a portable machine? It would
never work!'. I'm sure this is what people would have
said if such a topic of conversation ever came up.
But the truth is, it works even better on the Gameboy
Advance than it did on the playstation (I find the
GBA D-pad to be more responsive). The control is
tighter and it doesn't seem as unfair as it used to.
In fact in what it does, Rayman Advance is pretty
much perfect. But times have changed, do we REALLY
need a playable enough addition to a genre which
hasn't seen ANY notable originality or innovation
since Mario 64?
Before I started reviewing on this site, this game
might have scored an eight, possible even a nine. But
I'm really running out of interesting things to say
about games like this. I can't flame them because
they're good, and I can't rave about them because
they aren't special. The platforming genre is in
danger of becoming unpopular if third-party
developers don't get some ideas of their
own. Ubi Soft are perfectly competent developers
-this game is testament to that- but they just have
some horrifically unoriginal games.
I'll return to my ranting soon, I suppose I'd better
mention some stuff about the actual game. Evil Mr.
Dark has kidnapped the electoons and imprisoned them
in cages, journey through the world and collect them.
That's the story. Also, Betilla the fairy will grant
you with some extra moves every now and then, like
being able to throw your fist at enemies (Rayman has
no limbs or neck, his hands feet and head float
around his body) or using your ears as a helicopter
to float across gaps.
Rayman advance is quite simply, stunning. The levels
are bursting with colour and fantastically cartoony
textures, the backgrounds are amazingly lush, to the
point of almost becoming distracting. The character
animation is splendid, the best I've seen in any 2d
platformer, bar none. Rayman and his foes express
real fear, anger and pain with their exaggerated face
movements. It looks SO good that it almost makes the
game more fun to play, you're always looking forward
to seeing a new level theme or gigantic boss character.
The sound is fairly awful. Sound effects don't fit
their actions and the music is floaty and annoying.
But then I've come to expect this from developers Ubi
Soft, they are French after all. But music (apart
from story) is by far the least important aspect of a
game, and the sound can always be turned down. So it
doesn't affect the game too much.
Running through levels and smashing cages of
electoons with your fist is fairly mindless and
enjoyable stuff. However, enemies will get in your
way more than in most platformers. The enemy AI is
excellent. If they sense you they will go from
walking into running after you, and they also duck
quite skillfully to dodge your flying fist. Killing
them can be a bit of a pain then, and sometimes slows
down the light-speed pace of the game.
There are a couple of nice set-pieces, such as brass
instruments blowing against you so you can have a
slightly speedier jump. Doing this from mid-air
platform to mid-air platform can be quite frantic and
frustrating. Frustration plays a big part in Rayman
advance. You will often find yourself zooming through
the air for some reason or other. And while zooming
along so fast the scenery becomes a blur, you are
often asked to land on a platform in mid air...
that's very tiny..... and moves. To do this you will
have to perfect techniques like lowering yourself
just before the platform comes into view, and then
turning around and jumping as soon as you land to
prevent skiddage. Techniques like this will be
familiar to wisened platformer fans like myself, but
only as 'the hard parts of the level' in most games.
In rayman it's like this non-stop, and I DO mean
non-stop. After clearing one challenging flight
followed by platforms that move at a genuinely
frightening speed and some difficult enemy combat,
it's time to repeat the process again.
I don't mean by that, that it's repetitive. I mean
it's constantly difficult, VERY difficult. The most
annoying thing about this is that (because of the
zoomed in screen) nearly every hard section includes
a leap of faith where the odds are stacked against
you. You will die about 20 times in ONE level (There
are about thirty) before you will complete it, and
this is consistent once you finish the music world
(That's after six levels). Not because it becomes
easier with practice (Leaps of faith that you haven't
done before don't get easier because you've faced a
lot of them) but because after dying so many times,
you will have memorised the entire level and where
and when you have to move.
You'll get used to this but sometimes you really wish
it wasn't so hard, it makes it slightly less
enjoyable to play. But it still flows extremely well
and has those patented 'ride through the level on an
animal/insect' bits that break it up a bit. Indeed,
even some of the challenges are wonderfully
presented. The game has a lot of variety, especially
in it's style of tasks. However, I think I've now
played too many side-scrolling platformers, and my
tolerance level has gone down one point. Hence the
seven I awarded this game.
Another high point of Rayman is that it will last a
long time, and the platforming is of a consistently
high quality. But that's not enough to get an 8 from
me any more. I'll give them to games which have
plenty of faults as long as they have some sign of
ingenuity and good ORIGINAL ideas. The videogame
market is too crowded for polished but still
unoriginal clones now, after so many years of gaming
we expect bright ideas, of which Rayman has a pitiful
amount. It plays perfectly, it looks perfect, and it
lasts a long time. So if you're a big platformer fan
you won't be disappointed. But if you've played many
before this it will seem slightly tired. A highly
competent and extremely fun romp, but one that is
pieced together from old games and improved only
slightly. Still a better game than quite a few
others, the developers need something to immerse and
involve their players and they need it quick, I'm
losing my patience.
Ray of light
+ Absolutely gorgeous
+ Excellent level design
+ Fast and furious
+ A long-lasting challenge with enough secrets
+ Consistently fun to play
+ Stunning character animation
+ Pleasing sense of progress
+ Good enough controls
- Awful music
- Misfit sound effects
- Consistently un-involving
- Easy to put down and walk away from
- Too many leaps of faith to count
- Constantly difficult
- Often unfair
- Stuffed full of old tired platform cliches
- Nothing to recommend it over any Mario game
- Rayman is an ugly little guy.
Overall: 7 out of 10