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Rayman 2: The Great Escape Package Art
 GENRE
  Platform
 DEVELOPER
  Ubi Soft
 PUBLISHER
  Ubi Soft
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1
 CONTROLLER PAK
  yes
 RUMBLE PAK
  yes
 RAM PAK
  yes
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Rayman 2: The Great Escape

This game is a pleasure to play. Honestly. I actually smile when I'm at work and I think of my little French hero Rayman. Furthermore, let me say that it is absolutely essential that developers outside of the Asian and predominantly English speaking culture are successful in their artistic endeavors. The wonderful touches of Rayman seem so unique to us but they are really a product of a different mindset. France is the birthplace of Rayman and with that facet comes a whole baggage of unique storyline and gameplay elements. I believe that gamers should be open to experiencing how 'play' is defined by other cultures. It's truly a refreshing experience to pop in a cartridge and get this type of unique gaming experience.

Now I know what you're thinking 'unique' is something analogous to a friend saying: "I know this great girl, she has a 'terrific personality'". But that's not what I mean by unique at all. My definition of Rayman's uniqueness is that it's a diamond found in a slushy winter street. Rayman 2 is a great experience and you shouldn't deprive yourself of UBI Soft's incredible work in this game. Whether or not you find the game challenging or short, the time spent with this game is excellent and worth the price of admission. Hey, the Dojo's own Dean Cavanaugh told me that this "game is the best forced path platformer yet." I agree.

visuals

If you haven't already, seek out an expansion pack for you N64. Rayman 2 is a perfect example that 3rd and 4th generation N64 games are being taken to a higher level as a result of the expansion pack. Rayman really compliments the N64 in that it rivals PC and Dreamcast graphics. That's for real Dojo Disciples.

From the wonderful palette of the intro movie to the original design of the characters, the visual presentation of Rayman is stunning. I liken this game to being a moving masterpiece. I'm probably not to far off as a majority of the artwork was actually hand drawn. While you may not get a sense of this immediately, believe me when I say that the eye candy will spoil you before you even get out of the intro movie. Just look at the beautiful metal side of the pirate ship during the intro movie to see what hand drawn graphics mean. It's safe to say that there hasn't been anything this pretty in an N64 cart to date. The nice thing is that the usage of art and visuals is not overdone. In fact you can actually see a different palette in place then the typical bright and flat colors of most Japanese and American titles. This is just one example of the European influence on this game.

Mechanics wise, Rayman is solid. The animations are smooth and the camera is extremely responsive. There's a steady framerate and next to no clipping. Graphics are definitely the strong point of Rayman 2 and the rest of the game follows through on some of the best visual work for the N64 yet.

BTW, when you press the 'L' button check out the funky Hendrix like smoke in the background! Trippy.

audio

While not as incredibly overwhelming as the graphical presentation, the audio of Rayman 2 does a good job of complimenting the graphics and gameplay with a minimalist-style sound track and some great sound effects. I personally thought that the garbled BK-esque voices were top notch. When the game started and I heard that first line of gibberish I was dying of laughter. HA! It's like the Banjo Kazooie talk but with a French twist. The other neat things are the voices of the other characters. While there isn't a farting toilet like in Banjo there is a little whispery fellow that helps you through your journey. Each character has his or her own unique audio gibberish and it's very cool to listen too.

It's apparent that the thrust of the game's development went into the visuals. That's not to say that the gameplay and audio aren't competent. It's just that the visuals are so incredible I have to mention them in the audio section of this review damnit!

gameplay

Okay, so this game doesn't play as long as the War and Peace of platformers-Donkey Kazoie, or is that Banjo part 2? Sorry I meant to say Donkey Schlong. Darnit, got it wrong again. You know what I mean. But in the end, even Mario wasn't as long as Donkey Kong or Zelda. Mario did seem to strike the right balance in terms of length. In my humble dumb assed opinion I think that some games may be a little too long. I mean, where do the lines between incredible depth and never ending frustration or boredom meet?

I think the real issue with Rayman 2 is that there is a degree of exploration (you search for energy beings) but not the level of exploration that dominates titles like Super Mario 64, or Banjo. And while you may not be riding on a rail during the game, it is a forced path platformer in that you really only have one option if you wish to progress. Since a majority of that exploration time is not that reticent in Rayman 2 you'll get the feeling that it's a little short. In reality, the game is effective in its forced path methodology. What I mean is that it keeps the action moving and the pace brisk. While this may not to appeal to the gamers who like to spend hours exploring it is a great bonus to the action of the game. BUT, this game is so incredible it's almost like a teasing to be let down so quick. Maybe a few more levels would have served Rayman 2 well.

Control in Rayman 2 is super responsive and tight. Rayman can perform several moves including flying with his ears, climbing, swimming, farting…just kidding. But he can do a heck of a lot. There's no delay from the moment you activate a command to the characters' response.

Finally, You'll find some really neat and original puzzles. Again, the European influence creates some cool puzzles that are either a twist on the old school platformers or uniquely Euro. These puzzles add a great deal of depth to the game.

multiplayer

It would have been great to play a four player puzzle mode or perhaps a two player co-operative mode in Rayman 2. Multiplayer games in the style of Mario Party would have really REALLY pushed this game into the upper stratosphere of excellence. Unfortunately, budgets, schedules and the usual rigmarole interferes with the quest for perfection. Don't get me wrong, Rayman is not a rushed product, but in a perfect world the developers would have had time to add on the multiplayer feature. By the way, a deathmatch mode just wouldn't have suited this game. It's a joy to play not an adrenaline pumping thrill ride like Rage Wars. This kind of dichotomy is what makes a great game library and the N64 is finally realizing this.

overall

Rayman 2 is a wonderful game. Hands down. It outperforms a majority of the graphical work done by Rare and Nintendo. What would have made Rayman an incredible game? Some cool Mario Party-style multiplayer games and a few more levels. While some gamers may take exception to the forced path style of the game, I rather enjoyed it. What really took me about Rayman 2 was its ability to cross age, gender and preference boundaries. My girlfriend liked this game, my 2 year old nephew giggled at Rayman and I (predominantly sports and action) loved this game. Miyamoto once said something to the effect that games which have mass appeal have really captured the joy of gaming and excellence. I think that Rayman's incredible appeal is the biggest indication of its success. Or, as my two year old nephew says when he puts in Rayman 2, "Zio…boingo kick ass!"
final score 8.6/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Eric Mattei
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"Lost like tears in rain"


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