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Rayman Advance Package Art
GENRE
Digital Eclipse
DEVELOPER
Ubi Soft
PUBLISHER
1
NUMBER OF PLAYERS
unknown
CONNECTIVITY
unknown
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Rayman Advance

The folks at Ubi Soft are doing their best to make Rayman one of the most recognizable characters in the video game industry. During the last couple of years, the popularity of France’s limbless hero was boosted by Rayman 2: The Great Escape, a platforming masterpiece that has found a home on every major home console. Determined to stay on a roll, Ubi Soft took steps to ensure that Rayman would take part in the American launch of Game Boy Advance, an event that was virtually guaranteed to be an explosive success. A few months later, it is clear that Nintendo’s Game Boy advanced nicely, but has Ubi Soft’s Rayman managed to tag along?

visuals

Rayman Advance is a port of the original Rayman, a sidescrolling platformer that appeared on a wide variety of consoles, from Atari’s doomed Jaguar to Sony’s successful PlayStation. Such a port is bound to ask more of the Game Boy Advance than most first-generation games, and Ubi Soft responded to the challenge by calling on the talented folks at Digital Eclipse. Digital Eclipse had a knack for cranking visual surprises out of Game Boy Color during its prime years, and Rayman Advance seems to be their way of letting us know that new hardware will not slow them down.

In case you have not figured it out yet, Rayman Advance is gorgeous. The characters are the largest and most colorful to ever appear on a handheld screen, and the animation is so smooth that even a grumpy old person will be able to tell the difference between this masterpiece and the 8-bit graphics of Game Boys past. Rayman Advance’s visual feast is not provided for your standard, stone-faced sprites, either: From bullets armed with hammers to a mosquito that looks like he (she?) should stay off the narcotics, every character in this game has personality to spare. Top everything off with environments that resemble the background stills used in Disney animated films, and Rayman Advance is very much an interactive cartoon.

Naturally, Rayman’s beautiful world is not entirely perfect. Slowdown rears its ugly head on a few occasions, and some of the larger sprites (Betilla the Fairy and Mr. Sax, among others) have an odd, pixely appearance...but hey, what are a couple of blemishes in visual assortment that features dancing flowers solely for your giggly amusement?

audio

Rayman Advance’s music is well composed, and always matches the environment. The hap-hap-happy jingle of a flowery area precedes the slower, darker tune used to represent a dense forest. The more intense levels, which often involve a great deal of quick jumping among moving platforms, are accompanied by a song that sounds precisely designed to make your palms sweat.

The sound effects are nothing too special, though one might be surprised to find a complete lack of “boing” and “bop” noises in a game that looks so much like a cartoon. Rayman’s digitized voice is also completely void of any cuteness, as the hero sounds less like an animated action star and more like a pro-wrestler wanna-be.

gameplay

In order to complete Rayman Advance, players must make their way to the various hang-outs of Betilla the Fairy, an ugly lady who likes to wear funky pajamas and grant special powers to Rayman. Rayman’s acquired moves can then be used to reach new areas in old levels, and those areas often include caged Electoons (purple balls with feet). All of the Electoons must be freed before the final area can be accessed.

The abilities that Rayman adopts are typical for a platformer. He learns to punch, run, grab ledges, swing from hovering rings, and spin his hair to extend jumps. However, Rayman Advance does not rely solely on its hero’s powers to keep players interested. Gameplay is made more complicated by the various environments. Forest areas involve manipulating gigantic plums, sky worlds made of glossy tracks give Rayman intense speed, and a flooded level forces players to work with magic seeds. The occasional battle with a gigantic boss is thrown in for good measure. When it all comes together, Rayman Advance features a surprising amount of gameplay variety for a game with such simple controls.

Unfortunately, hardcore platforming fanatics may be the only gamers capable of thoroughly enjoying this game. Anyone who wishes to play Rayman Advance as a nice, stress-free way to pass the time is in for a nasty surprise. Not only does the level design make the game a formidable challenge, but the visual style contributes some frustration as well. The sprites are big and beautiful, but large sprites on a portable screen mean that very little can be seen ahead of the main character. To make things worse, there is no effective way to make the screen scroll in any direction. The result is that players will often get smacked with nasty surprises, even when moving at a reasonable pace. Not only that, but some Electoon cages are hidden in what appear to be deadly falls. Without a way to make the screen scroll down, finding some cages could involve a lengthy trial-and-error skydiving session that steals several lives.

There are a limited number of lives and continues, but clever use of save points can make this a non-issue. However, having limitless tries does not necessarily mean you will want to take them in a game as frustrating (and somewhat unfair) as this one.

multiplayer

See above.

overall

Rayman Advance is a great game for platforming veterans who think they have the genre completely mastered. On the flip side, anyone who is not prepared to be mercilessly challenged should avoid the purchase. This game would have received a higher score had it been developed with all gamers in mind

final score Platforming/10


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