Review: Rayman 3D

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Rayman 2 was highly respected as a defining 3D platformer of its era when it first released on the N64 and Dreamcast (and other platforms later on) over a decade ago, but as a Nintendo 3DS port it’s a bit of a mess.

Rayman 3D at least gets the Rayman fundamentals right. It is a pretty conventional platformer that has you hopping and bopping through whimsical 3D levels as the titular hero with hands and feet hanging in mid-air from invisible appendages. The swashbuckling Admiral Razorbeard and his robotic pirate henchmen have eyes on enslaving Rayman’s home world and the entire galaxy, and of course it’s up to Rayman to harness the power of four ancient masks and put an end to Razorbeard’s plan.

In typical platformer fashion, Rayman jumps, Rayman swims, Rayman swings from suspended hoops, Rayman climbs walls and overhangs, Rayman throws energy bullets at his foes, Rayman hovers over long gaps by twirling his ears like a helicopter, Rayman collects gobs of sparkly things, and Rayman rescues his caged friends.

Using the 3DS Circle Pad, controlling our limbless hero in a 3D environment has the proper responsiveness and freedom of movement analog control provides, and on a base level this can still be a fun game, with striking visuals that hold up incredibly well, even after all these years.

But as a port, Rayman 3D is a stain on the reputation of Rayman 2 and the franchise as a whole – and for many reasons.

The main flaw is the camera. From beginning to end, the camera always feels like it is disabling your ability to fully enjoy the game. It gets stuck on corners and walls easily, preventing you from being able to pan it around or auto-snap it behind Rayman, and in general you rarely get what I would consider an optimal view of your surroundings, which often makes judging the angle and distance of jumps a guessing game. That’s a fatal flaw for a platformer.

Another problem is with the combative elements. When up against Razorbeard’s robotic minions, you can lock on and strafe by holding down the left shoulder button while popping off balls of energy at the press of the Y button (or holding it down for charge shots). The thing is, when enemies move back and forth, as they often do, the lock-on mechanism regularly loses target, and when combined with the malfunctioning camera, you are always struggling to keep foes in your sights. For me, it got to the point where I avoided engaging with enemies whenever possible.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Rayman 3D is how technically unstable it is. The framerate chugs along on a consistent basis, particularly with the 3D slider turned on, and parts of the audio are completely broken. Sound effects fade in and out or fail to playback altogether with regularity, lessening the impact of Rayman’s attacks and also providing poor hit recognition when in a fight. A lot of the time you can hardly tell if you are even hitting your targets. Polish issues like these are inexcusable for such a port of an old game that shouldn’t put any burden on the 3DS hardware.

The sad thing is, that through the sloppy port job and faulty camera system, Rayman 3D shows glimpses of its former greatness and remains faithful to the series’ distinct personality traits, as displayed by the dream-like art style and color palette, silly gibberish dialogue, and charming character animations (it never gets old watching Rayman grab his floating torso and dribble it like a basketball when you leave him standing idle). But sadly the flaws are too many and too significant to ignore, and seeing those flashes of brilliance only makes the lackluster porting that much more disappointing. What you’re left with is a poor repurposing of an old favorite. I say don’t bother.

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Pros:
+ Beautiful graphics look even more lovely in 3D
+ Core 3D platforming is fun and controls well
+ Rayman personality and charm shines through

Cons:
– Unruly camera makes it difficult to judge jumps
– Lousy lock-on and strafing mechanic
– Chuggy framerate and buggy audio
– Tarnishes the legacy of a classic game

Game Info:
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Release Date: 3/22/2011
Genre: 3D Platformer
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!