Article by FTG Contributor Robert Beach
Rayman has always been the under-appreciated platformer. Going from his debut on the PlayStation to his resurgence with Rayman Origins, he’s had his fair share of under-the-radar sequels. Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc was the last of the classic Rayman adventures of the limbless hero.
Waking up to find a new threat, Rayman and Globox (his best bumbling friend) embark on a misadventure to discover this new enemy. Andre, the self-proclaimed leader of the bat-like creatures known as “black lums”, planned to take over the land, but the blue blob Globox accidentally swallows him. Throughout the plot, they search doctor after doctor to expel Andre from Globox’s stomach. In between the chaos, you travel to different worlds, run into weird beings…you know the normal stuff for a 2003 game. A quirky title like this sat comfortably among other games of that time period.
Blasting off as this fast paced self-aware platformer, Rayman 3 had an enticing draw of waiting on the next little humorous jab or joke; most of the fourth wall breaking jibes like making jokes about reading the manual are aimed cynically at anyone who’s played a videogame before. Sadly, those tongue-in-cheek commentaries about “being in a low budget sequel” dissipate once the tour guide Murfy is out of the picture. His untimely last words are ironically, “See you in Rayman 4!” It is a little jarring to take out a big part of the personality of the game and become just another platformer.
The HD part warrants that those two letters being a part of the title. The original 2003 version of Rayman 3 was already great to look at, but the cosmetic upgrade strengthens how lush and colorful the worlds already are. Running at sixty frames per second, it’s smooth as any other modern day cartoon game. Obviously, the more vibrant bits are the levels that uses the whole palette of colors. Sure you’ve got the desert, snow, and enchanting worlds, but the psychedelic disco visuals of traveling to another world took me away. Stunning as they were, unfortunately, the action does match the visuals as this level involves Rayman grinding on various discontinued tram-train tracks.
The gameplay works and everything handles the way it is intended, with the occasional third-person camera hiccup. It’s nice to take in the atmosphere with the bouncy, airy controls of Rayman, yet the controls are responsive enough to make the player feel that when they die, they know it is their fault. Death and damage will always happen in large amounts, but low health won’t ever be a problem as health orbs are readily available for pick up.
Rayman as a game really shined when there are no enemies around, and you’re focusing on the platforming. The longest shortcut level was a threatless masterpiece. It was quite calming to experience something else beside the same gunfire and the same combat. I dearly wished the game was to be more about using mirrors to find the platform and using abilities to ascend large staircases.
Abilities appear as static tin cans and give a time limit for the use. Although, their appearances as deep puzzle solving experiences turn out to be fairly one note and shallow. The tin can powers to describe a few are spiked fists, rocket fist, tornado fists and electric bear trap fists. All are unique to solve a very rudimentary puzzle; sure the bear trap hands are used like Bionic Commando, but in battle, the various weapon upgrades may as well be the normal gloved fists fitted on Rayman. Yes, they somehow managed to make “electric bear traps for hands” boring.
It wouldn’t be Rayman without breaking captured creatures out of cages, would it? Cages are a part of the main game progression, but like its predecessors, it’s also something else for those completionists out there to work on to 100% the game. The scoring system is continued into the HD version, giving an added layer of gameplay with bonus levels of mini-games or challenges to unlock.
Boss fights can be the best or worst part of the game. For one, it doubles the typical “rule of three” hits we normally see in cartoony platforming bosses. As you could have guessed, much like the regular adversaries, bosses overstay their welcome and become tiresome. On the other hand, boss fights were the most memorable and fun thing to do in game. Chasing a reclusive home owner around his house, then fighting him while he’s on a giant wrecking ball is more exciting than it seems.
Get past the flashy introduction of all these exciting and potentially innovating abilities, it’s still the same great run and jump type game. Nothing remarkably special is about this quirky title after the first chapter, but it functions well enough as a colorful 3D platformer to check out for $10.