After Rayman 1 and 2, Michel Ancel wanted to make something different, something big, “a game that packed a whole universe onto a single CD“. It was going to be his biggest project, which was eventually called: Beyond Good and Evil. Rayman 3 was made without the lead designer and director, who was only supporting the design for early concept. Coming out the same year as Beyond Good and Evil, Rayman 3 was released for PC, Playstation 2, Xbox and the Gamecube in 2003, with an HD-remake for PSN and XBLA released 9 years later. Being the only game that got an HD-remake in the series and even a mixed reception by Ancel, where he stated he was proud of what the developers did, but at the same time would have changed a lot, how well has this game really aged?
Lets try to be funny
Rayman and Globox enjoys their nap in the forest, but this peace doesn’t last long. They are awakened by black lums, small flying monsters, that combine their powers to become hoodlums. Rayman and Globox run for their lives and meet up with Murphy, who guides them by reading the game’s manual throughout the forest and into the council. In here, they meet up with the leader of these terrible creatures: a black lum called Andre. He wants to taint the heart of the world, scare every red lum to make them into black lums, and then create an army of hoodlums. Right after sharing his plans with Rayman, Andre is accidentally swallowed by Globox. Rayman sets out to help Globox’ tummy-ache and stop Andre’s plan.
The plot is incredibly silly, stupid, and entertaining. From reading the manual to progress the story, to using Globox’ arm as a guitar to try to scare out Andre, you can really tell they went for a saturday-morning cartoon-vibe with a lot of humour. The characters are mostly taken from Rayman 2 and given a much sillier approach, with Murphy being wise-cracking and Globox being plain dumb. This doesn’t necessarily hurt the plot, but it’s a bit weird to get such a change in personalities compared to the previous game, where they were more mysterious and laid-back. Interactions and dialogues do also vary, due to them being filled with jokes that are really hit and miss. Some jokes are clever, referring to other series or commenting on how silly the costumes are, to fart-jokes. This can really hurt the game, since the dialogue is entirely made out of jokes, but the overall plot and the twist at the end are really entertaining. It had me smiling more often than not.
Story Score: 7/10
Punch instead of jump
Rayman 3 has a bigger focus on combat, with plenty of enemies showing up quite often and areas being more often like arenas than progressive platforming stages. Despite the shift, the battles are quite fun and hectic, since Rayman has become a lot more agile. Having the ability to dodge, charge and punch from side to side while locking onto enemies, and being overall faster and easier to move freely, makes the combat fast-paced and intense. Just like in the first game, you are using the fists to attack, which has a short range, but can ricochet off walls twice and auto-lock on enemies and breakable items. The enemies help to highlight the combat, having to dodge shots, shoot at a specific side and vary where you punch. Enemies also differ, from the spread-shooting hoodlums, to the flying ones bombarding from above. This all makes the combat a joy and it never gets stale.
The platforming is a clear second however, since it is much more rare and more situational, where there will be very simple platforming and less use of your general skills. I often forgot that I could jump between tight walls, ledge-grab or climb on walls and ceilings, since these moves were rarely called for. The propeller-hair to float a short distance and normal jumping are the only moves that I clearly remembered being used. Showcasing how much more situational the game has become, is the much more linear level-progression that doesn’t even featuring an organic map like previous entries. Instead, there is only a level menu with nothing visually interesting to it. The 5 new costumes, also contributes to this.
Getting them through the Laser-Washing Powders, there is the green Vortex which makes Rayman throw whirlwinds from his fist, which shrinks enemies and lowers the meadowscrews and certain platforms, then there’s the Red Heavy Metal Fist that doubles the damage inflicted by Rayman’s metal-fist that can punch down the wooden doors. The Blue Lockjaw makes Rayman throw metal claws from his fists that can grab onto flying hooks and send electric shocks to his enemies. Then there is the Orange Shock Rocket that makes Rayman shoot a guided missile at his enemies, and finally there’s the Yellow Throttle Copter that lets Rayman fly into the air. All of these are found before an area where they are needed, usually after defeating certain enemies and all last for only a certain amount of time. They can add to the platforming, but often feel underused, except for in the last stage, where the platforming does change up a lot, making you use more of your move-set and power-ups.
Back from the previous games are the cages to break, which this time contain Teensies. Breaking six cages will add more health to your health-bar and each time one is broken, you will get either a power-up or points. Yes, this is the only Rayman game-in the main-series with a scoring-system. The scoring-system is all about combat and collectibles with no time-limit except for a combo-system. Each time you collect or kill an enemy, it will add to the score, which can add up into bonuses. Collecting or killing more enemies in a short time will earn you bonuses based upon what amount of points you got, and getting more points will allow you to get more levels and minigames. However, this is something that made it hard for me to care about, since points haven’t really been an important addition to games since the 80s and coming back with it 20 years later, is gonna need more to it than what is presented here.
Besides the platforming and the combat, there are small, other elements that are rarely used and feel off. From the odd shoe-races, to the button-mashing to swim through a lake, none of the more varied extras feel in tune to the core focus of Rayman 3. They are really bare-bones and rarely happen as well, making them easily forgettable and questionable additions. The boss-fights do fare a bit better and do feel like clear fights as well as being somewhat creatively designed, but they have obvious patterns making the combat too predictable and easy.
Combining this with long health-bars and a lack of challenge, the bosses feel, at times, like a chore. Besides this, there are just small oddities that make me wonder why they are even here, like a first-person view that will never be needed. The game overall is also fairly easy and most of this stems from enemies never becoming overwhelming, plenty of red lums to collect, and the platforming being not creative or testing your skills enough.
While Rayman 3 has many odd additions and almost neglects parts of the platforming, it is still a fun journey thanks to a good focus on combat. The additions that feel weird and not really fun, are luckily forgotten or simple blemishes.
Gameplay Score: 7/10
Taking a inspiration from previous titles
Rayman 3 is a gorgeous game with good use of colors, lightning that is still impressive, and having the characters being well animated and designed, makes for a pleasing look. The worlds are a bit more traditional with a forest-world, dungeon-world and borrows a bit much from previous games, both with characters like Globox and Murphy, as well as areas like the tombs. Nothing is as imaginative or interesting visually as the previous titles, but it’s still a great-looking game. The one thing that is quite creative, is the enemy-design, which gives the game some flavour and they are easily the most recognizable parts of the game.
Some composers return from Rayman 2 which should be a pleasure, but the soundtrack is all over the place. There are tracks that are more mysterious and calm, while others are more whacky and heartracing. This creates variation and the overall soundtrack goes for a much more atmospheric tune, but it is for the most part forgettable and never has recognizable tones. The only one that I remember, is the Disco-music during the surfing-stages, since you have much clearer beat and tones coming from a saxophone, making it a great tune. None of the music is bad, but if I had turned it off; I wouldn’t have missed it at all. The voice-actors are pretty good, with recognizable names, such as John Leguizamo and Billy West. I do however find the other languages having better tone to many of the characters, where Globox has much darker tone in his voice and Rayman being more calm. Despite this, the delivery and overall quality is good and they do a great job with what they got, even though some jokes are absolutely terrible.
Presentation Score: 8/10
Minigames and high-scores galore before raving rabbids
Rayman 3 is a bit shorter than rayman 2, clocking in about 6 hours of just a normal playthrough. However, trying to do everything from getting high-scores, to freeing Teensies, can easily add 10 more and as you get more points, you will also unlock minigames. Unfortunately, they aren’t really that interesting, and they often feel sluggish and stiff. It certainly has quantity, but without focus and just adding stuff to create variety, it looses a lot of reasons to really want to go the extra mile, besides the joy of replaying stages.
Extra Score: 5/10
Rayman 3 has taken a big detour to focus more on fighting than platforming, and while it is a downgrade in many ways, it is still an enjoyable game that shows a lot of great ideas and at the very least, a little focus. The platforming is at best ok, the combat is really fun, the smaller additions are forgettable and the extras are not worth it. If they focused more on the platforming and in general quality rather than quantity, they might have had the ability to create something about as great as the first two titles, but this one is still worth checking out.