Rayman is ready to take on some pirates in his newest game for the DS. We tell how you how he fares.
It's really great to see how far Rayman has come since his glory days on the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and Atari Jaguar. The limbless hero debuted in 1995 with a stellar side-scrolling effort, filled with beautiful graphics and simple, wonderful gameplay. The sequel, Rayman 2 continued the trend years later for the Dreamcast, N64, and PlayStation, and that's where Rayman DS comes into play, nearly ten years after the big schnozzed hero's debut so long ago. But, to be honest, this Nintendo DS title suffers from way too many setbacks in the graphics and gameplay department to be considered a step upward.
Rayman DS is basically Rayman 2 made for the portable, with Rayman battling all sorts of pirate henchmen and other dangerous elements as he travels from level to level, collecting lums and working to rescue his friends from the clutches of the evil Razorbeard. Along the way, Rayman will use only the best of his abilities, like turning his hairs into a helpful helicopter power-up or shooting balls of energy that will pound the enemy flat. The game has a wide variety of levels, ranging from a grand walk across a mountain top dodging cannon fire to flying through caverns, collecting lums and destroying flying bomb barrels. The variety's no problem here, and the game also contains some fun little mini-games that are worth checking out.
That is, if you can get to that point. The game's got no problems in terms of sound, as the music is lively and the sound effects fit the bill. No, the problem comes two-fold- graphics and gameplay.
With the graphics, Ubisoft has faithfully reproduced the 3-D imagery that Rayman 2 was known for, and includes all the level details from the original. But it runs into some snags in terms of blurry visuals and sometimes muddy colors, leaving you sometimes second guessing at the location of a ledge or a hidden secret. Also, the game's camera system is terrible, as it sometimes has a mind of its own and gives you the worst perspective possible, leading to lost lives that you didn't really expect to lose. It's really frustrating, because a 3-D game can be done right. Just look at Super Mario DS if you don't believe me.
Then we come to the gameplay, another Achilles Heel for this port. It seems really slow and sometimes unresponsive, as the game generally uses the touch screen to move Rayman around while you jump and fire with the other buttons, using the R button for the occasional lock-on fixture. But movement can sometimes be a bit too touchy for its own good (no pun intended), and your direction can be thrown off as a result. Mix that in with the game's camera problems and you'll see frustration rather quickly, if you don't find a way around the lacking controls.
Rayman DS could have easily been a solid title for the Nintendo DS, even as a quickie port, if Ubisoft had just paid some attention to the game's nagging problems. It almost feels like a debug copy of the game, with some parts unfinished and others glitchy. Some fans of the series might want to check it out to see if it suits them, but, trust me, you're better off dealing with Mario and friends if you're hungry for a platformer.
What's Hot: The nostalgia from Rayman 2 on Dreamcast.
What's Not: The camera and control issues.