|System: Xbox 360*, PS3|
|Release: March 20,2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Fantasy Violence, Crude Humor, Mild Suggestive Themes|
by Becky Cunningham
HD remakes are all the rage right now, and why not? Gamers seem happy to plunk down a few bucks in order to experience older games with prettier graphics. The latest of these remakes is Rayman 3 HD, a 3D platformer that debuted back in 2003. It's been prettified and placed on the PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade for a modest price.
The question of whether Rayman 3 will appeal to you is fairly simple. Are you nostalgic for the days of 3D platformers on the PlayStation 2? If so, Rayman 3 typifies the higher-quality games of that genre and era. If your platforming experience is limited to this generation of games, you may find Rayman 3 HD a bit dated and far less smooth to control than contemporary games like Super Mario Galaxy.
As usual for the time, Rayman 3 starts with a very simple premise. The happy little fairy-things called Lums that populate Rayman's world have been corrupted and turned into Hoodlums. Andre, the leader of the Hoodlums, causes a particularly major amount of trouble, and Rayman must jump and punch his way through plenty of colorful levels in order to save his forest. The story and gameplay are nicely diverse, with Rayman visiting many different locales and doing everything from disco rail grinding to missile target practice.
The basic action of the game is fairly simple. Rayman punches bad guys and explores the relatively short levels (in this case, short is a good thing), collecting hidden treasures and solving simple puzzles along the way. He'll find various power-ups that can temporarily help him do things like punch through walls and swing from conveniently-placed hooks. Rayman 3 HD has been optimized well for modern systems, running at a nice smooth frame rate and featuring responsive controls.
Of course, Rayman 3 still suffers from some of the common problems that faced 3D platformers in the PlayStation 2 era. The camera is frequently less-than-helpful, getting stuck, moving slowly or jerkily, or just plain refusing to pan in the desired direction. It can sometimes be easy to get stuck on the scenery as well, which can be frustrating when dealing with the timed power-ups.
The game's developers also made some unusual design choices that don't work as well in practice as they might have on paper. The game oddly places a high value on getting a high score in each level. Part of that score is, as expected for the genre, tied to finding hidden treasures. The rest, though, is tied to completing a level's objectives as quickly as possible and attacking enemies without being hit. These objectives are a bit strange and frustrating for a 3D platforming fan, especially since it's difficult to gather a lot of treasure in a short amount of time, since Rayman needs to wind up his swings in order to break most treasure boxes. The object of moving quickly and getting a high score seems at odds with the exploration-based gameplay that's core to enjoying this kind of experience, and, in my opinion, the game is more fun if the player simply ignores the score. It's mostly used to open up optional minigames of varying quality levels anyway.
The other unusual choice the developers made was to create a linear progression through the game's levels, without offering the player the ability to go back to earlier levels in order to uncover more treasure or shoot for a higher score. Given the game's emphasis on high scores, it seems especially odd not to have a hub world or level selection mechanism. Still, these complaints don't keep Rayman 3 HD from being fun and interesting to play, just from being among the greatest examples of 3D platforming.