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Rayman DS

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: DC Studios
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer (3D)

Graphics & Sound:

Once again, Rayman and his friends are in trouble. This time Robo-Pirates have invaded Raymanís planet and destroyed the Primordial Core. Rayman DS puts you back in control over that armless, legless, magical creature.

The graphics for Rayman DS are on par with the other games to come out for the dual-screened system. Unfortunately, since the release of the PSP, those graphics donít look as advanced as they once did. The models and scenery are comparable to something you would have seen on the N64 or PSOne. The textures on the forest walls and floors are pixilated and spread really thin, while the characters themselves also seem a bit jagged at times (though this does add to the characterís cartoony feel).

Iím not saying that the graphics are bad in Rayman; they are some of the best 3D graphics Iíve seen on the system so far (when you consider how close you are getting to the models, that is). In games like Super Mario 64 DS, the graphics looked really clean, although you were further away from the characters and you didnít get the opportunity to see the details. Rayman, on the other hand, has the camera close to the action.

The sound, on the other hand, is pretty good. The music is very upbeat and the effects seem to fit the visuals that accompany them (like the bouncing sound whenever Raymanís energy balls ricochet off of a wall). Even the ďvoicesĒ are clean. Rayman DS doesnít use actual, intelligible dialog. Instead, the characters use a Sim-ish type of speech, though it seems to be more involved. Instead of just spouting out random sounds, the words actually sound like another language that is close to, but not quite English. I thought this was a great effect because it made me feel like the gibberish they were speaking could actually be a real language.


Gameplay:

Rayman DS opens with Rayman trapped in a pirate prison, stripped of his powers. His only hope of escape comes when his friend/sidekick, Globox, ends up in the same cell as him. Globox gives Rayman back some of his powers and together they escape.

Raymanís newest adventure has him traveling all across the land looking for pieces of the Primordial Core so that his peopleís powers can return. Only after the Core is restored and Rayman has all of his abilities back, can he hope to defeat the invading pirates.

You will travel all across Raymanís world freeing captured fairies and collecting various colored Lums to either increase your strength or open up new areas. You travel from level to level through the hub world, which the king of the Teensies opened up earlier in the game. This hub world is called the Island of Doors and shows you where you need to go next, as well as how many of which collectible items you were able to get from that level. Among these collectibles are things like plums and cages. Each time you break open a cage and release its prisoner, Raymanís health bar increases.

There are also four masks which Rayman should look for during his journey. These masks are the only thing that can summon the mystical Polukus, the creator and spirit of Raymanís world. It is with Polukusí help that Rayman can defeat the pirates and send them packing. Other characters Rayman crosses paths with are the fairy Ly, Murphy (the hint/tutorial system for the game), and Clark, a massive, muscle-bound creature.

Like the other games in the Rayman series, Rayman DS is your standard platformer through and through. Enemies are there, but typically easy to beat (except for the bosses of course), and your biggest challenge is usually getting past the environmental barriers that crop up.


Difficulty:

Rayman DS isnít one of the toughest games out there. You can typically make it through a level in one or two tries, making it a fairly quick play. Though like most platformers, it has its tedious parts. There were several places that truly tested my skill, but ultimately these times were few and far between. Fans and long-time practitioners of the platformer genre should breeze through most of the game without any problems.

The toughest part of this game is finding all of the collectable objects like the yellow or purple lums. If you are the type of person who keeps playing a level over and over again just to find the last hidden treasure, you might find Rayman DS to be more up your alley.


Game Mechanics:

The worst part of Rayman DS is its use of the touch screen. Like a lot of games for the system, what would normally appear on the HUD gets shuffled down to the lower screen, although that isnít what bothers me. There are two options for moving Rayman around: you can either use the control-pad or move the stylus around on a circle positioned towards the left of the touch-screen.

This means that if you want to use the touch screen, you pretty much have to be left handed. Nothing against south-paws, but they arenít the majority. I would have had no problem if there were multiple configurations that switched the movement-circle and action buttons to the other side of the system (so that the circle was on the left and the operations performed by the X, Y, A, B, and R buttons were on the control pad and L button). That way, everybody would be happy. If you are left handed or donít want to use the touch-screen, then you can leave things the way they are. If you donít fit into either of these categories, then you should be able to use the stylus in your right hand and do the rest of the actions with your left.

Okay, soapbox aside, if you donít mind not using the touch-screen (or are left handed for that matter), the controls are fairly simple and easy to get the hang of. You fire your energy balls with the B button, jump (or activate your helicopter) with the A button, and control the camera with the X and Y buttons.

Basically, Rayman DS is a good platformer. It has some issues with the controls (or maybe I just have some issues with the controls), but all in all, if you liked the other Rayman games, you probably will enjoy this one. If you arenít sure, rent it.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Microsoft Xbox Doom 3 Sony PlayStation Portable Need for Speed: Underground Rivals

 
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