Saturday 1 August 2020

Rayman (Atari Jaguar review)

Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Publisher: Ubisoft
Released: 1995

Rayman is a platformer that was also released on the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation in 1995.

There's six worlds and your mission is to restore harmony to the world by recapturing the Great Protoon from an unknown kidnapper and free the Electoons that usually gravitate around it. Rayman can attack using his fist punch, and other abilities can be unlocked such as a helicopter spin that allows you to temporarily float in mid-air. While there's nothing particularly outstanding about the stage layouts or hazard placements, there are some gorgeous scenic backdrops and quirky ideas, such as an entire stage that revolves around dodging bouncing pencils! There's even some cool auto-scrolling sections to mix things up and the awesome bosses feature multi-part battles that test your problem solving skills in fun and entertaining ways. One of the game's best features is unlocking abilities during your adventure; these slowly add new mechanics that switch up the gameplay and keep things feeling fresh. They also help when backtracking through beaten levels; while some might see this as a way to artificially lengthen total play time, it's gratifying to access previously inaccessible areas and see the level design open up in new and exciting ways. Where the action falters is in its severe trial-and-error, and you'll frequently find yourself facing a hazardous situation with no prior learning as to how to progress; losing several lives before you figure out a solution is often the only approach, and compounding the issue are the sparse checkpoints that force you to repeat minutes of gameplay in the event of death. Also, the music doesn't match the environments, especially the gentle piano that plays in the final world.

Rayman doesn't stray far from the gameplay formulas established in 16-bit platformers, but its cool power-up progression and gorgeous art style get the series off to a great start. It's a solid and varied adventure from start-to-finish, and as long as you're prepared for a serious (occasionally maddening!) challenge there's plenty of fun to be had. 

Random trivia: A mini-game which resembles Atari's Breakout (1976, Arcade) can be unlocked by pressing 1364 during Rayman's introductory animation.

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