Reviewed: April 18, 2005
Released: March 30, 2005
There is just something about platformers, with their bizarre, bright and cartoony worlds and characters, that seems to sit rather well with most people. Whether it be children or adult gamers, I seem to encounter a large fan base for platformers whenever the subject of video games comes up in conversation.
Ubisoftís Rayman series is a good example of this. Take a strange story that makes minimal sense, throw some oddly put together characters in with a bright and shiny world, and youíve got a typical platformer. Itís not a bad recipe, mind you. But it isnít a fail proof one. One problem Iíve had with this particular approach to platform gaming, is a lack of innovation. Either developers end up copycatting other games that got it right, or trying something new that fails miserably. So how does Rayman: Hoodlumís Revenge hold up in the ring with so many others? Well, he can hold his own, but still canít quite win the fight.
A sequel to Rayman 3, the story in Hoodlumís Revenge basically goes like this: Globox, an exceedingly large but quite harmless reptilian type character, has swallowed the dark lum Andre. What is a Ďlumí you ask? As far as I know, they are glowing orbs that appear throughout the levels of this game that guide you along the way to the exit. You see, they are little beings, like fairies, or pixies in a forest...look, theyíre little creatures that help Rayman and Globox along the way, and Andre is a rogue lum, or something.
In any case, Globox swallowed him. Now, Globoxís possessed body is being used to wreak havoc and enslave these other bizarre forest creatures called Teensies. Why? Because Andre is a bad lum, thatís why. And that is what bad lums do. Anyway, Globox goes berserk whenever he gets the chance to drink plum juice (hey, who wouldnít?), and thatís the only time heís not his harmless, teddy bear-like self.
His buddy, the limbless Rayman, of course has to rescue Globox and the oddly cute Teensies from the evil clutches of Andre. Makes sense...right? Well, not really, but neither has any Mario game ever released. And that is part of the charm of Rayman. The offbeat story and characters are what make this game fun.
You will be playing as both Rayman and Globox, as each will have certain skills and techniques needed at various parts of the game. Eventually you will be able to switch between the two whenever a certain situation calls for it in this platformer/puzzle game.
First, let me just say, this game is very cute. Not sickeningly so, however. Hoodlumís Revenge has just the right level of cuteness to keep me from losing my lunch. Itís also a type of cuteness that doesnít feel too childish or ridiculous. Hoodlumís Revenge is definitely a good game for children, but older gamers wonít feel like their intelligence is being insulted by it. The dialogue, especially from the Teensies, is so weird, I found myself chuckling a bit at their comments. Another thing I found myself doing, however, was yelling rather loudly, and at times, inappropriately at the screen of my Game Boy Advance.
You see, this Rayman is an isometric platformer in 3-D, instead of the usual side-scrolling fare. While that makes for some nice new and interesting gameplay for fans of this game and genre, it also makes for some difficult controls. The screen is tilted in such a way, in order to create the illusion of 3-D, that itís just a little too difficult to gauge distance when jumping from platform to platform, or even to just walk diagonally, especially on such a tiny screen.
This is incredibly frustrating when playing as Rayman, considering that Raymanís biggest weakness is not the all too easy to kill enemies, but water. Yes, water. Rayman canít swim, so itís absolutely crucial to keep him on land at all times. In fact, I have a theory that the so-called water in this game is not water at all, but acid, since it takes very little contact between Rayman and the ďwaterĒ to shave off a good percentage of this health meter. So when you find yourself gliding slowly and uncontrollably to the dreaded water due to a poorly executed jump, it can be more than a bit frustrating.
I also had problems with accurately using the targeting system. A minor annoyance since enemies can be killed easily with one of Raymanís punches, but still, the controls could use a little tweaking here and there.
As far as how fun Hoodlumís Revenge is, all I can say is that itís a typical platformer. If youíve played Spyro games, or Mario, you know what to expect. Run around, find power-ups, punch enemies, execute jumps, and find the exit. There is the occasional puzzle thrown in here and there, but nothing too mind-blowingly clever or even interactive for the players. There are switches to activate, and certain types of walls to climb, but thatís about it.
The gameplay for Hoodlumís Revenge suffers the most probably from being too typical. Nothing really great, and nothing really bad. Because of this, however, it can get rather monotonous to play, and I have to admit that after a while, I found myself either frustrated or bored. The Teensies are awesome though. Gotta love those Teensies.
Probably one of the best aspects of this installment of Rayman, is the graphics. This game is just so bright and crisp; you canít help to be a bit attracted to it. It reminds me why Iíve never quite outgrown cartoons. Rayman does look good in 3-D, and despite some control issues because of it, itís a good break away from side scrolling. Gamers will definitely enjoy the bright and vibrant look of this game, even if it does, like gameplay, get rather monotonous after some time.
Enemies donít differ all that much, and while the designs are fun and cartoony, they get old a little too fast. The same goes for level design. Sure, they could get away with that in the days of Super Mario Bros., but honestly, that series gave us more than Rayman does as far as keeping things interesting on a tiny console that doesnĎt hold much memory.
I think Ubisoft could have given the world of Rayman just a little more variety and improved their game noticeably. Still, for a GBA, the graphics are impressively clear and stylish, and are definitely some of the best quality Iíve seen on this console.
Character designs are also a plus here. Globox and Rayman have very cute designs, and I have to say I was rather charmed by the look of the Teensies. In fact, the Teensies made this game for me. Iím not sure if that is a good thing or not.
Iím usually quite forgiving of Game Boy games when it comes to audio. Itís not going to sound like a surround sound epic blasting through its speakers, but some games can certainly do a good impression. Hoodlumís Revenge does a pretty good impression, too. Like the graphics, sound is crisp and clear, noticeably so for a Game Boy game. The music fits nicely with the game as well, considering the whole goofy feel of it - and thankfully, being goofy doesnít mean ear splittingly annoying.
Again though, monotony rears itís ugly little head. Like I said, Iím quite aware of what a GBA can handle as far as its memory capacity, and am forgiving when there is a lack of variety because of it. Still, Iím pretty sure there is more than one song in Rayman, but the only thing that clings to my memory at all as far as music in Hoodlumís Revenge goes, is one...freaking...song. Over...and over...and over again. Like I said, itís not obnoxious, just monotonous. It seems to be a recurring theme here, eh?
Sound effects are nothing to write home about, but they do fit into the atmosphere nicely. ďVoice actingĒ is more like a series of silly sounding squeaks and squeals. That and a truly pitiful sounding, ďhelp!Ē from the Teensies whenever you are close enough to one to rescue it. All in all, it works, if nothing else.
I admit it. I saw the game over screen a lot. Perhaps itís not all Raymanís fault, since when I have problems with controls, games give me more trouble than for the average gamer. I guess thatís what I get for playing so many turn based RPGís. In any case, I did some research and consulted my boyfriend, the gamer guru, and found I wasnít the only one having issues with controls. This being said, Hoodlumís Revenge does take some getting used to, so you might find yourself with more gameplay time than you expected.
There are also some levels you can unlock through basically beating high score that are tallied through each level according to your performance. This is determined by collecting lums, killing enemies, finding jewels, and releasing captured Teensies. So there are some unlockables to go back and find, which is a nice addition for this otherwise mid-sized GBA game.
Rayman: Hoodlumís Revenge is overall a solid game. Itís fun to watch, listen to, and for a little while at least, fun to play. Itíll probably get a bit boring after a few levels, but as far as a game to pop in and play to pass the time goes... well, it works. There are better titles out there, but there are definitely worse. If anything, play it for the Teensies. Charming little buggers.