Having never owned an N64, having never owned a Dreamcast, having never owned a PC that could run it and having never seen the PS2 version hanging out on store shelves, I simply never had the chance to play Rayman 2 before this version came out. I have played Rayman 3, which I liked well enough despite not being too fond of the emphasis on combat and combos. I have played the first game, which I loathe with a passion (pretty, but I'm not a fan of the stage design!). But Rayman 2 is the Holy Grail of the series for me: I've heard so much about it, and never had a chance to experience it myself until now. Was it worth the wait?
Gosh, how do you even begin to answer this question? Rayman 2 is, in a way, pretty much what I expected: a 3D game that drops the tight, demanding platforming, beautiful sprites and bright colors of the first game in favor of a more open and collectathon-oriented polygonal adventure that takes place in very dark and brown environments. The videos I've watched have told me that much. I am guessing, however, that the varied gameplay made a much bigger impression on gamers back in the day than it would today. As it turns out, Rayman is a versatile little hero: when he's not jumping, floating and shooting his way through levels he swims, he rides on legged rockets and he swings on ropes. Compared to Mario, I suppose his repertoire of moves is impressive. The only problem is that what may have seemed new and fresh back them hardly is now. You could take a single series as an example, Ratchet and Clank, and make the point that in the past decade we have gotten over a half dozen of those games in which the hero has all of those moves, and more.
So Rayman's gameplay isn't so unique anymore... is it still fun? I would say yes: a well-made game doesn't stop being good just because it got old, good game design lasts forever. It can show its age terribly, though. The small environments of the game constantly remind you which system this game was designed for, in case you stopped noticing the dated graphics and sounds, which haven't been updated since the Dreamcast version it seems. And boy, would an update have been nice. I'm not sure if I even want to get started on the visuals as the list of things that needed improvement is so long... Alright, quickly: Rayman's animation isn't fluid and could have been touched up, the 2D sprites that decorate the levels look really bad and out of place, the architecture could have used some more polygons, and there is no excuse for the bad framerate at times, when the game is pushing the system (ha!).
The sound is similarly embarrassing. The library is extremely limited, and it seemed to me that every creature in Rayman's world make clucking sounds. Sometimes, the sounds would simply stop playing in the middle of an action, for instance the helicopter sound of Rayman's spinning hair as you are floating down. And the music tracks loop quickly and noticeably. You probably will never notice, however, unless you go to the options and turn down the music to 25% of its default intensity, as it will drown absolutely everything else.
As you can tell, nothing was done to update this game at all, and it is quite possible new flaws were introduced in this version, unless the N64 game also came with long loading screens.
As for the implementation of 3D, it is quite simply botched. Quite frequently, there are objects or even walls that seem to clip through the edge of the 3DS screen, not only breaking the illusion but also creating an annoying flicker. This clipping seems to happen more and more frequently as you progress through the game, too, and levels get more complex. I found myself constantly switching between 3D (when it looked nice) and 2D (when the flickering became too distracting and actually hindered gameplay). Not only that, but Ubisoft made ample use of negative parallax (objects that seem to come out of the screen) with its particle effects and badly animated 2D sprites, creating a really unpleasant effect that's hard to describe. I want to say painful but there is no pain, more like a feeling of pressure... well, it might be just me.
In the end, Rayman 3D is what it is: a solid polygonal adventure-platformer from the early days of the genre, with all that entails. A solid game, but nonetheless dated, and poorly ported to boot. The flaws it shows now that it showed then would be more forgivable if we were dealing with the original game's room being sold for $10 on the Virtual Console, but we are not. This is being sold as a full retail game in 2011 and so it should have received a major reworking to cut it with today's platformers. And the fact that this simple port was botched is unforgivable no matter the circumstances. Ubisoft should be at least as ashamed of having made this product as I am of having bought it.
Finally got my hands on a copy, and I'm not very far in yet but I can honestly say I would have LOVED this game had I played it when it came out. Now though? Just not as exciting I guess. Not because of the graphics or anything, but just I feel like it's more than I want to handle right now from a game. I've been enjoying bite sized chunk gaming with Pilotwings, Nintendogs, and Professor Layton. This just feels like something I'd have played the heck out of before, but now I spend my time on other stuff and it doesn't fit in my schedule.
My two cents. I'll see if it grows on me when I play some more.
Oh also the 3D is pretty awful. I can hardly ever find the right sweet spot.
Sounds like it’s a poor port of an otherwise fine game. What was Ubisoft thinking? Quick cash in, obviously.
Anyway, I have very fond memories of Rayman 2 for the N64. That was a shining gem in the N64 library, and it currently has an 8.8 average from Negative World users.
I would love to see a true Rayman game built specifically for the 3DS that brings back that quality the franchise was once known for. Enough of the Raving Rabbids, I think they’ve taken the spotlight for too long now.