I’ve heard the name Rayman for ages and never had the dough to give the series a whirl. I had heard Rayman: Origins for the Wii (released in 2011) was the best one yet, and I thought what I saw during Ubisoft’s E3 demonstration looked pretty cool for the next installment in the series. So GOG.com read my mind and put 1-3 on sale this past weekend so I could blow $6 (which if you’re as poor as I am, that should be going towards bills or something lame) and give the series a try out.

Rayman Forever is the title of the first installment, and everything I thought and subsequently write while playing has to be taken with a grain of salt because the game was released in 1995. Instantly I love the adorable protagonist with his floppy hair and handkerchief around his neck. So French. The music throughout is sparse and when it does pop up it’s relaxing and light. Of course, I haven’t gotten that far in it but I did listen to the soundtrack thanks to the bonus material that came with my GOG.com purchase. Additionally, I liked the incremental powers. First I could punch, then I could hang on ledges. I thought it was a smart way to prolong the introductory levels a little bit. Overall, it was fun. Very 1995 gaming, what can I say?

Look at that bad mama jamma with his floppy hair!

Look at that bad mama jamma with his floppy hair!

And if you don’t know what I mean by that . . . think the Aladdin game. Gameplay from the mid-90s is all about jumping across platforms to beat levels, hanging from ledges is a big deal, you can do a few auxiliary moves like throwing things, and the art is very cartoon-y. Personally, I love it, which might just be nostalgia from becoming cognizant of video games for the first time around 1995, but it was also just a great stepping stone to the great animation and 3D build-up we got in the N64 just a few short years later.

But for all of that nostalgia, I did have some beefs with Rayman Forever. We’re given no background to our little Frenchman! I have no idea why he’s punching creatures or why he wears his scarf or why I’m trying to fight my way through this place. Additionally, for all of the great things about gaming in the mid-90s, it was still pretty difficult, like many of the early NES games. I get bounched back when I get hit by something but bouncing me back puts me straight in the water which is insta-death. Not cool, Ubisoft. And 1995 games had their place in 1995. In 2012, I was getting a little bored and was hoping the next installment would be a little more engaging.

Ef everything about those stupid monsters with teeth. EF THEM.

Ef everything about those stupid monsters with teeth. EF THEM.

I had actually decided to wait to buy the other two Rayman games until I had a decision about #1. Skeptical of my own boredom with the game, I read about Rayman 2: The Great Escape’s reception when it was released in 1999. Wikipedia said it won awards and sold millions of copies, so I knew I was at least in for game numero deux (that’s right, I know French). And I was thoroughly delighted with my purchase. The classic N64 block style on the cusp of making graphics actually look good (maybe not quite to the cusp, but . . . approaching it) brought back a flood of memories playing Goldeneye, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64, and others. I liked the backstory I was given, the puzzles, and the music was still great, albeit a little more prevalent and exciting.

The “voice acting” is a little disconcerting because sometimes I feel like the characters are cursing me under their breath . . . but otherwise, this game is 100% a great purchase. I may never revisit Rayman Forever, but I plan on playing Rayman 2: The Great Escape all the way to the finish. If you want to “start at the beginning” of the series, I’d recommend just starting with #2. However, the one thing that #1 did provide me some backstory on was Rayman “gaining” his powers (which he has to do again in the beginning of #2). I recognized that as a nod to the previous game, and appreciated it.

Look at those hard edges! Nothing quite like the choppy 3D of the N64 to bring back the memories

Look at those hard edges! Nothing quite like the choppy 3D of the N64 to bring back the memories

I did purchase, Hoodlum Havoc and was excited to give it a go last night for a few hours but unfortunately I ran into some technical difficulties. However, I’m really trying to stay on this three-posts-a-week bandwagon, so I figured I’d regale and delight you all with the first two games and my thoughts instead of prolonging the post and waiting for GOG.com support to get back to me. All in all, this was a fun romp in the past to cover some old games that actually weren’t on my list but are considered by many to be classics as well.

Have you guys played any of the Rayman series? Thoughts? Hate ’em? Love ’em? Leave a comment!

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