Rayman 2: The Great Escape
GAME SYSTEM: Nintendo 64
SIMILAR TO: Tonic Trouble
Review by: Scott Steinberg
Published: January 22, 2000
Across the board, developers and publishers are eternally striving for a big hit, and once in a while, a few of these digital prospectors actually strike gold. Everyone assumes that things become rosy for the lucky parties in question, but bringing fame and fortune to a brand name isn't as wonderful as some might believe. Consider that the rewards for success are fleeting, and that when the money runs out, it's up to the people behind a big franchise to churn out sequels that live up to the lofty standards set by the original game. Such was the challenge faced by UbiSoft, whose creation, Rayman, has sold over five million copies and appeared in countless forms, ranging from children's products to collector's editions. For years now, the public has been waiting for a proper sequel, and with the release of Rayman 2, UbiSoft has shown its current hand. Having finally given Rayman 2 a whirl, it's time we see if the publisher came up with zilch or all aces.
Whereas previous Rayman titles took the form of 2D side-scrolling platformers, the designers have opted to take the plunge and create Rayman 2 in full 3D. Those who've encountered products in this series before understand that if the Rayman games are known for anything, it's playability. You'll find that little has changed in this regard conceptually, though I won't say the same regarding the actual implementation. Take for instance almost 50 levels--not including secret and bonus stages--packed to the brim with individual and unique themes, characters with which you can interact, and enemies to lay low. Furthermore, don't forget to consider Rayman's new abilities, which include skiing, climbing, hovering, and flying. Then there is your ability to watch them in vivid detail thanks to the use of the N64 expansion pak. To top it off, Rayman 2 is also much more puzzle-oriented than anything fans of the product line have encountered, so kiss the happy-go-lucky run, jump, and dodge days goodbye.
Even the story has undergone some serious changes this time around, making it more fleshed-out and interesting than the feeble plot line upon which the original was based. Rayman's world is in dire trouble, as an evil army of interstellar mechanical pirates are enslaving the population, many of Rayman's friends included. Alas, our hero himself has been imprisoned as well, but as the story begins, we set him free from captivity and place him on the road to setting things right. Accomplishing this goal will require Rayman to collect four mystical masks that will awaken a sleeping deity who'll smack the pirates and their leader, Admiral Razorbeard, silly. While he goes about this noble quest, Rayman is also encouraged to collect pieces of stellar energy called lumes, rescue friends in need, and teach the pirates a lesson they'll never forget.
You enter the game at the start of a magnificent and epic adventure, as a huge variety of 17 worlds awaits your exploration. From pirate ships to jungles, caves, and swamps, you'll battle Razorbeard's minions, solve puzzles, and interact with the creatures that inhabit Rayman's realm. Ranging from cute little fairies to well-mannered water snakes, giants, and everything in between, Rayman will run into both old chums like Globox, and new acquaintances such as Carmen the whale. These friends will not only provide you with information, they'll actually aid you in your quest by bestowing new abilities upon our hero, lending him a helping hand to cross impassable areas, and performing a variety of tasks, such as dousing flames that bar your way onward. All told, Rayman 2 is much deeper than the original, and going to require a major investment of time.
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