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Rayman 3D

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Casablanca
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer (3D)

Graphics & Sound:

If the entertainment industry is going to continue to try and make 3D the next HD, they first need to realize 3D needs to be part of the design from the start. Although it is possible to convert older movies to HD without many problems, the same can't be said about non-3D media. Case in point, Rayman 3D.

Although it isn't mentioned on the box or manual, Rayman 3D is yet another port of Rayman 2. As ports go, the visuals are as faithful to the original as they can get. The game is apparently sourced from the Dreamcast version, so if nothing else, Rayman 3D is a great way to show off the 3DS's visual boost. At the same time, most of the problems that plagued Rayman 2 haven't been fixed, leading to the 3D issues.

If the 3D leads to anything meaningful, I hope it leads to better camera systems. The camera is the biggest issue facing the game. It will randomly switch viewpoints or, more commonly, get caught up on level objects. As annoying as these issues normally are, they're a headache in 3D. Though by no means the worst implementation of 3D I've encountered (that honor goes to Madden NFL), I usually dialed the 3D effect down. Even then, I still had issues with the image suddenly blurring or producing an odd visual "shadow." I originally thought the issue was a hardware limitation, but after a few tests concluded it was the 3D effect and camera not getting along.

I've always liked the sound design in Rayman games, not because it's particularly good, but because of how it fits into gameplay. The squeaky cages and diminutive cries of "Help!" are a nice motivator. It's possible to run through the entire game without collecting every Lum, but at the same time, the shouts are enough to make you want to seek them all out.


Gameplay:

For anyone who has yet to play the game in one of its many iterations, Rayman 3D follows Rayman, a limbless little hero, fighting a group of robot pirates invading the Glade of Dreams. Rayman's quest isn't as easy as turning back an invasion. The pirate's leader, Razorbeard, has splintered the Heart of the World into a thousand smaller pieces, called Lums. However, before he can restore power to world he needs to collect four masks to call upon Polokus, a great spirit who can repair the Heart and expel the pirates.

Though it sounds complex, story is mostly a background element. Characters will occasionally pop in to remind Rayman of his quest, but the story is mostly used as a vehicle to transport Rayman through worlds and stuff them full of things to do. Your larger goal is to collect the four masks and defeat Razorbeard, though completionists can also lose time tracking down all 999 lost Lums scattered around the world.

Levels are, for the most part, linear, but not in a traditional "Point A to Point B" format. Instead, you're give enough freedom to explore levels and discover your own path to goals. Most are usually confined to a particular path, though finding that path usually requires a fair bit of exploration. As you collect Lums, you'll unlock new areas and, eventually, new powers. In a sense, action plays out similar to Metroid, though the amount of time spent retracing your footsteps is more noticeable. It's not that it isn't fun, but level designs leave a lot to be desired. Layouts are confusing and its not uncommon to lose your footing and have to retrace your footsteps.


Difficulty:

Rayman 3D is challenging, though not in the right ways. The camera will give you fits, but the level design that will throw you for a loop. The first issue is a problem, but the second is something we rarely see in games anymore. Levels are confusing and hard, but the user-friendly checkpoint system offers just enough motivation to keep you going. You'll want to beat levels, not just to make it to the next section, but so you can prove something to "the game."

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for every section. Some areas require Rayman to fly on either barrels or other moving objects. These areas are some of the game's more infuriating spots. Because of the camera placement during these areas, it is nearly impossible to see what is coming up until it is right in your face. The controls are tight and allow for fast movements, but these sections require Spider-Jedi reflexes and foresight. These areas are built more on trial-and-error and, in all likelihood, present the best chance scenario of you breaking your 3DS out of frustration.


Game Mechanics:

Although you'll see your fair share of combat and solve numerous puzzles, platforming is the game's heart and soul. The pad is tuned to near perfection and does a more than adequate job of handling Rayman 3D's tricky platforming areas. It's also nice to finally have a better level of control over the camera. It's nowhere near the same level as console titles, but hitting a shoulder button and moving the pad is a far more elegant solution the previous handheld attempts.

Controls are tight, especially once you start unlocking Rayman's other talents. Similar to Metroid, Rayman unlocks new abilities as he travels through the Glade. He begins with the ability to shoot orbs from his hands and use his hair as a helicopter blade, but eventually learns to swing from certain areas and other fancy jump-related tricks. Of course, the acquisition of new tricks leads to the aforementioned backtracking, but it's better than a purely linear experience.

Rayman 3D is a solid game, though there's nothing here to entice a repurchase. The 3D effect is sloppy, and in all likelihood you'll probably turn it off after a few minutes. In spite of its issues, Rayman 3D is fun, though only if you've haven't already played it or are a massive fan.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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