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Possibly the most eagerly awaited title for the Jaguar has finally beamed onto the streets. Iain Laskey finds out if it was worth the wait.
Rayman is one of those classic ‘cute’ platform games. The object of the game is free the Electoons and ultimately free the Great Protoon in order to return Rayman’s world to harmony and vanquish Mr Dark who has caused all the chaos to start with. Initially you have very little in the way of abilities and skills. As you finish certain sections, you are rewarded with new skills and powers to help you. Some of these are permanent and some only last for that level. Unusually, you can return to previously finished screens to try them with your new abilities. A nice touch.
The gameplay is the usual platform affair with lots of jumping, climbing, crouching and walking as you explore the world. The levels are well designed and help you to get into the game gently.
The holiday doesn’t last too long though and soon you have to start to work quite a bit harder. Some enemies take quite a bit of dodging and shooting to finish them off. You can punch down berries and use them to float about on the otherwise fatal water, enabling you to reach power ups and some of the Electoons. Much use is needed of swings, moving clouds and more to complete the levels. There are hidden bonus levels which can be accessed by collecting Tings and finding the hidden Wizard. There is also a hidden breakout type game but I won’t spoil it by saying how you find it. There’s a lot of skills to be mastered in order to finish each level.
What really separates Rayman from its peers is the excellent animation. The movement of both Rayman and the various other characters is superbly done. It really is just like watching a cartoon. Tiny details abound. When you die, Rayman appears on a stage and if you continue he bows and cartwheels off stage. Deciding to stop playing results in him despondently slouching off the other side of the stage. Wonderful! There are one or two oddities though. Periodically Rayman looks at you and seems to be talking but no sound comes out. Maybe an unfinished feature?
The graphics are generally very good. With 65,000 colours, smooth scrolling and over 50 animated characters, everything just looks and feels very polished.
The controls are well chosen and perfectly balanced. The numeric pad isn’t used, only the top half of the controller is utilised. Some games are awkward to play due to the control method but everything in Rayman just feels right.
The only real criticism I can raise is regarding the music which is rather too tinkly and twee and soon starts to grate. Luckily you can turn it down. Ubisoft claim there are 45 tracks so what it lacks in quality, it makes up for in quantity. The sound effects too are adequate and plentiful but nothing fancy. The PSX version has superior sound but being a CD it should have. For a cartridge based title though Rayman doesn’t do too bad.
You can save 3 different games with your initials and a percentage counter shows you how far you have got as well as a map showing each location visited.
Rayman was first demoed almost a year ago and even then looked impressive. Since then it looks like Ubisoft have been busy fine tuning every element. It looks great and plays like a dream. Whilst it would have been almost impossible to live up to the hype, Rayman comes very close indeed. This is one of the more expensive Jaguar games but it won’t disappoint. Rush out and buy it today!
Product Name: Rayman
Telephone: 0181 xxx xxxx
Pros: Animation, well thought out levels, addictive
Cons: Lacklustre audio.