Reviewed: April 9, 2003
Released: March 18, 2003
If you are looking for a review that bashes Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc then you need to go somewhere else. I loved this game. Sure it has a few minor problems but overall this is a great addition to the platform genre and in fact, it is one of the best platformers ever. With great graphics, excellent voice acting and an entertaining and engrossing storyline, Rayman 3 is a gem.
The game centers on a character that some of you may be familiar with, Rayman. Rayman is an armless and legless character with spiky hair that can be used for helicopter like purposes. I should mention, for those of you not familiar with Rayman, that although he has no arms or legs, Rayman does have hands and feet. Throughout the game Rayman utilizes his feet and hands to do battle with some great results.
The basic premise behind Rayman 3 is that Rayman’s faithful sidekick Globox, voiced masterfully by John Leguizamo, has accidentally swallowed the Lord of the Dark Lums and Rayman must find a way to rectify this before meets his maker. While on his quest for a way to rid this evil entity from his friend, Rayman must battle the Hoodlums who are trying to recover their leader from Globox’s insides.
From the beginning training level you will see that Rayman is going to be a twisted and entertaining game. Humor and wisecracks abound as you make your way through a beautifully crafted fantasy environment. With numerous enemies and bosses to face along the way and many hidden objects to find, Rayman 3 will both entertain and perplex you all while you have a genuinely good time.
When you first start Rayman 3 you will enter the training mode. It is on this first level that you get a good look at the games wittiness and sarcasm. Murfy, a flying wise guy that sends out zingers aimed at everyone and everything, guides you through the training level. Billy West masterfully voices this character. Mr. West is a cartoon voice actor who has lent his talents to characters like Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, numerous characters on Futurama and my personal favorites Ren Hoek and Stimpson J. Cat (AKA Ren and Stimpy) to name a few.
Murfy reads from the game manual as he teaches you the basics for the game ahead. In this level you will begin to learn and master the moves that will help you guide Rayman towards his goal. Don’t mess up here or Murfy will let you have it with his razor sharp wit.
After the training level is complete the actual game begins. Rayman’s moves are fairly easy to master and you will soon be exterminating Hoodlums with relative ease. This however does not mean they are easy to fight. When there are several Hoodlums about, you will find yourself challenged. In fighting the Hoodlums you must utilize both your floating hands and feet, your copter hair and various weapons and power-ups you can acquire along the way. The special weapons are only temporary so use them wisely.
To unlock these special weapons you must free the Teensies from the cages that the Hoodlums have trapped them in. The Teensies are small wizard-like creatures that eerily resemble the fellows from Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy. The resemblance to Spy vs. Spy was probably no accident as it seems if there are several kitschy references scattered throughout this title.
The weapons available for your temporary use are stored in cans that the Teensies will leave you when they are freed. The cans contain a powder that transforms Rayman’s outfit into battle dress. The weapons are necessary for completing many tasks and are also fun to use.
The Vortex is used to spin Hoodlums off of their stilts and twist down mushrooms so you can jump on them. The Heavy Metal Fist is used to crash your way through various obstacles, the Lockjaw can be used as a grappling hook to get you to normally unreachable places or for clawing Hoodlums and giving them a shock, The Shock Rocket is a guided rocket that you can direct towards unreachable levers and unsuspecting Hoodlums and the Throttle Copter is used to enhance Rayman’s copter hair and gives him a longer range of flight.
While trying to achieve your ultimate goal Rayman must make his way through five unique and massive worlds with various creatures and environments.
Fairy Council: It all starts here. This mystical forest kingdom is home to the Heart of the World, and the Hoodlums can’t wait to get their grubby mitts on it. Time for Rayman to start cleaning up this neighborhood.
Clear Leaf Forest: Once it was bustling with life. Now, this lush woodland is overrun with hordes of no-good Hoodlums. They’ve built up towers, bunkers, and other obstacles to make Rayman’s trip here anything but a walk in the park.
The Umber Swamp: This uncharted marshland lies in the nether-realms of Rayman’s world. It’s home to a slew of fiendish flora and fauna – not to mention anti-social witches and egomaniacal musketeers.
Hoodlum Meddleworks: Constructed from spare parts, bits of machinery, and plenty of Hoodlum elbow grease, the Hoodlum Meddleworks is the production center for all Hoodlum munitions. It's also where the Hoodlums covet their treasured plum juice recipe.
The Land of the Livid Dead: Scarred by cruel winds and crushing storms, this bitter wasteland doesn’t take kindly to visitors, especially adventuring types like Rayman. More than one tale has been whispered about a phantom race of creatures imprisoned within this haunted moor.
Each of these worlds offers both original environments and enemies to battle. They are stunning and allow for a lot opportunities to showcase Rayman’s fighting, climbing and flying skills. Not only are they expertly designed they are all filled with hidden areas and challenging puzzles that Rayman must find or solve in order to cure his beloved friend Globox.
Before continuing on to the graphics portion of the review I would like to discuss my biggest problem with the gameplay. Like most recently released platformers I have a problem with the camera control. I can’t count the number of times I was confronted with a poor angle an I was unable to move the camera enough to get a good look at where I wanted to go. I despise making blind jumps, but I was often forced to do this, as I could not rotate the camera behind Rayman so that I could see where I was heading.
Along with the direction of the camera, the angles I was often forced to endure were aggravating to say the least. There were numerous times when I had to jump up to a ledge only to be forced to look down. The camera angles and directions add an unnecessary frustration level to an otherwise great game. I am not sure if this is some conspiracy or not but I am starting to wonder.
I was truly amazed by the attention to detail concerning the graphics. The amount of interaction with the environment and the originality of the weapons and enemies are unparalleled in a platform game. Everything has an almost cartoon feel to it and the graphics help convey this atmosphere. It is truly an ocular pleasure to participate in this amazing game.
I talked earlier about kitschy references in this game and there is on in particular that I liked regarding the graphics portion of the game. When you hit an enemy there are words that pop up to emphasize this damage. This was extremely reminiscent of the old “Pow”, “Kazaam”, and etc. used in the old Batman television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. I know this is a small thing but I got a good chuckle out of it. Simple little things like that amuse me.
As far as interaction with the environment goes, nothing compares to the results of leaping onto the indigenous fauna of the various worlds. I was fascinated by the release of small clouds of pollen and spores when I leapt onto plants and mushrooms while playing the game. These seemingly insignificant touches add immensely to the game.
The fighting graphics are also top notch. The special effects when Rayman throws a fist or is attacked by a gun-toting enemy are nothing short of spectacular. The lighting that accompanies them enhances these effects. The various weapons and explosions are well created and yet still have that cartoon feel to them which keeps in line with the overall feel of the game.
The colors and lighting are sharp and crisp and loaded with color. The backgrounds are deep and they characters are well animated. Though some of the characters are slightly jagged they are generally smooth and creative. It is great to anticipate what you will find next while playing Rayman 3.
The sound effects, music and the voiceovers in Rayman 3 are a pleasure. I have briefly discussed the character voices but I did not do them justice. While it is nice to have Billy West and John Leguizamo they were not the only talented voice artists in this game. The rest of the actors are not famous but they do a wonderful job.
All of the characters have a great sense of humor, dark wit and memorable voices. The dialogue is quite varied and very funny. The sarcastic lines and zingers are perfectly timed to the action and there are enough of them that you don’t have to hear them repeated many times over. This is always a plus because when there are phrases repeated endlessly it causes the gamer to be distracted and detracts from the overall enjoyment of the game.
The music in Rayman 3 is superb. The featured song for the soundtrack comes from a group called Groove Armada. According to a Ubisoft press release:
“Groove Armada plays sold-out shows all over the world; they’ve sold 1.2 million albums, and their music is in high demand for soundtracks and commercials for the likes of Nike and Mitsubishi,” said Julia Lipari, senior vice president for special projects/marketing for Jive Records. “Videogames are the next natural frontier for the band, and we’re stoked that they’re making their debut in Rayman 3 – it’s a trippy, exciting blast of fun, and it complements the music perfectly.”
I wholeheartedly agree with the above statement. The light and comical music in Rayman 3 is a pleasure to listen to. From the classic cartoon chase music to the lightly menacing dark music, Rayman 3 has perhaps the best soundtrack of any previously released platform title.
Even the action effects are well done. The sounds of the various weapons and action sounds are both comical and well done. I really enjoyed the music being a part of the overall experience and not a dreaded and repetitive distraction to the game. It is unique to have sound effects that seem to melt into the game and seem so natural. I had to go back and concentrate on the sounds because the seemed to be integrated into the game itself and do not overpower you.
It is hard to put a value on Rayman 3, as there are extenuating factors to consider. The game itself allows for a lot of gameplay if you are the kind of gamer that likes to uncover every hidden item. If finishing is your thing the game will take you considerably less time. This flexibility helps Rayman appeal to a variety of gamers. You determine the course of your game and how much you want to get out of it.
Rayman 3 has enough levels, hidden items and puzzles to solve for any gamer. The replay factor is high because of the ways you can play the game. I personally went through the game as quickly as I could and then later replayed it to try to find everything that I missed. You may not choose to do this but that is the great thing about Rayman, you don’t have to.
The other big factor is the addition of GBA-linked bonus features. If you have a GBA then the value increases dramatically because of the additional mini-games that you can unlock. Anytime you can gain extra levels and mini-games you automatically increase the overall value of the game. These features work both ways adding new content to both the GameCube and GBA versions of the game. By utilizing your GBA and a system link cable these additional features are available:
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc is a vividly colorful and entertaining game that sets a new standard for platform games. The combination of characters, backgrounds and gameplay create a memorable game that anyone can play. The music adds immensely to the overall experience and the voice acting is top notch. There are many hidden items and pickups to find, an excellent assortment of weapons and finely crafted worlds to explore.
If you are a fan of platform games but you want something with a subtle adult twist then consider giving Rayman 3 a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed that you did.