Before we proceed with this review, allow me to make a disclaimer: Rayman 3D is not a new game, it is a port of Rayman 2: The Great Escape, one of many ports the game has seen since it’s original launch on the N64, PC, Dreamcast and PSOne back in 1999. Since that time, Rayman 2 has also come to PS2, Nintendo DS, iOS, and the Playstation Network, so there’s a good chance you’ve played it on one platform or another already.
That being said, the 3DS launched without a Mario game, making Rayman 3D the only platformer available for the system at the moment. But if you’ve already played Rayman 2, do fancy 3D effects warrant another purchase or will you be better off waiting for Mario to get your platforming fix? Read on to find out.
Rayman 3D is set on an island called “The Glade of Dreams”, a peaceful place that has been invaded by an army of robot pirates from outer space. Led by Admiral Razorbeard, the pirates destroy the Heart of the World, scattering its 999 pieces across the island. It’s up to Rayman to collect the fragments (Lums) and defeat the pirates, as well as locating four masks to awaken Polokus, the creator of the world. The game features a colorful cast of charming characters, but the story isn’t terribly compelling otherwise.
The Glade of Dreams is home to some pretty diverse environments spread across 18 levels, almost all of which are colorful and smartly designed. The basic goal of every level is to collect the 50 or so Lums that are scattered about as well as a handful of secret cages, usually filled with…more Lums. You’ll sometimes have to solve environmental puzzles to progress, though they tend to involve little more than flipping the appropriate switches to open a door. Many levels also have you moving at high speed on the back of a rocket, clinging to a flying barrel or something of the like. These sections, while initially exciting, prove to be exercises in trial and error and you’ll find yourself replaying them over and over much of the time. The final few levels spike up the difficulty dramatically due to their increasingly frequent use of these high speed obstacle courses and can quickly become frustrating.
One issue that arises with Rayman 3D being such a faithful port of Rayman 2 is that it is a little TOO faithful in some ways. An example of this is the fact that “hard saves” can only be done between levels and not during one. Though there are checkpoints in every level in the form of green Lums, these checkpoints are only valid so long as you keep Rayman 3D running. If you quit out of the game to use one of the 3DS’ other functions, you will lose all progress in that level. That save system was pretty much par for the course back in 1999 on a console, but in 2011 on a portable, it feels painfully dated. The whole purpose of portability is to be able to play a game in shorter intervals, so being unable to save mid-mission (especially since some of the levels are really quite lengthy) sort of defeats the whole purpose.
The controls in Rayman 3D are very simple and very smooth, thanks to the 3DS’ analog slider. It’s springy and smooth and perfect for moving someone around a 3D environment. As with almost every 3D platformer ever made, the camera can sometimes be an issue and will not always adjust properly when you tell it to. You’ll probably find yourself switching to the first person camera pretty often in order to get a better sense of your surroundings. It’s not so much a problem of things getting in the camera’s way, you just aren’t always given the ideal viewing angle. Still, the majority of player deaths in this game will be caused by annoyingly placed obstacles, not camera problems.
Rayman 3D is a good looking game, even after ball these years. While certain technical aspects are showing their age, (flat textures, blocky characters, etc) the art style is still very colorful and pleasing to the eye. Though the visuals may not have seen much of an upgrade, the 3DS, of course, displays the game in 3D, and I’m happy to report it works extremely well. With the 3D turned on, every scene is given some pretty impressive depth and it works as more than just a visual trick, it actually helps with gameplay. I found it much easier to jump from platform to platform with 3D turned on than I did during the times when I turned it off to rest my eyes. You’ve just got a much better sense of exactly how far away everything is from you.
Unfortunately, 3D is the only use Rayman 3D makes of the 3DS’ capabilities. The touch screen is entirely useless, serving as a static inventory screen that involves no player interaction. It also makes no use of the system’s built-in accelerometers, which might have been useful for manual camera movement or something of the like.
In spite of its issues, Rayman 3D is still the same solid platformer it was when it was still called Rayman 2 – time can not diminish sound fundamentals. If you’ve already played Rayman 2, however, there really isn’t anything new in Rayman 3D, so you may be better off simply waiting for a traditional Mario game on 3DS. If you just love platformers and are looking to get your fix in 3D, then Rayman 3D is certainly not a bad choice…even if it’s currently the only choice.
Rayman 3D was released on March 27th, 2011 for the 3DS.