Nostalgia Revisited - Rayman

Rayman is the coolest limbless hero ever. Recently I've been playing through Rayman Legends and it got me thinking about the past games in the series. I used to play the original Rayman a ton as a kid and it's hands down one of my favorite Platformer games.  Developed by Ludimeda and published by Ubisoft, it was released for the Atari Jaguar, Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and PC in 1995. Since then it has been ported to plenty of other consoles since then and is even on iOS and Android!

The story begins with a magician like character who gives you the gist of whats going on. The evil Mr. Dark has defeated Betilla the fairy and steals the Great Protoon (who brings peace and balance throughout the valley) leaving the Electoons vulnerable to Mr. Dark's army of goons. The Electoons are captured and put into cages. It is up to Rayman to free the Electoons and recover the Great Protoon and restore balance to the valley. "But will the bad guys let him do it?" Throughout your journey you are assisted by Betilla the Fairy, the guardian of the Great Protoon who was defeated by Mr. Dark assists you and gives you abilities to help you succeed on your quest.


Let it be known that I've never beaten this game. To be honest, Rayman is a rough experience. Not in a negative way though! It's just incredibly difficult and it starts really easy and then cranks up the difficulty rather quickly. The first level gets you acquainted with Rayman's movement and takes all of 45 seconds at most to complete. It really begins once you get to Mosquito's nest. Each level on the Overworld map has a varying number of stages and you can't come and go as you please after the first stage. It makes it kind of like a gauntlet of sorts. You can't back out because you are low on health or power-ups. You have to suck it up and hope you don't lose all of your lives and waste a continue. 

The fabulous Overworld you travel through.

Back to Mosquito's Nest though. It's where the platforming can really put a damper on your extravagant Rayman experience. There is a part in the first stage where you are in control of a floating platform and you have to jump by these swinging spikes. It's a little difficult to explain if you've never played the game before. So when you are on the platform if you have Rayman facing the left, it'll move left. If he's facing the right, you guessed it, it'll move right! The issue is while maintaining that and focusing on not messing that up, there are the swinging spikes to spice it up. So you have to time your jump perfectly and jump over the spikes and land on the moving platform three times and you get to the end of the stage. It sounds simple but it's a massive annoyance to get through, especially if you're impatient. It's one small example how the platforming in this game can get really difficult really fast. There are tons of other parts that are 1000 times harder but that is one of the most annoying parts from my youth. One of the many things this game got right is the amount of happiness that overcomes you once you see the sign that indicates the end of the level. However, it can get aggravating. There are some instances where right before you touch that sign an item will appear. It could be a power-up, extra life, or in one case; a cage. Right when you hit the end of the level a cage appears right under you. Which left me furious. 

It should also be known that you can't fight Mr. Dark until you rescue every Electoon in the game. So if you think you could just go through the game and it doesn't matter if you save the Electoons or not you're S.O.L. You'll have to go back and collect all of them and then you'll be able to beat the game. 

The atmosphere the game presents is great; though a little random. The game begins in The Dream Forest which makes sense from looking at the valley in the beginning scene. Then you're thrown into Band Land. Which is a place made completely out of instruments. This is when the game begins to get merciless. It doesn't get any easier from here on out. Not one bit. Nowadays people claim the hardest games to come out recently are From Software's "Dark Souls" Series. While that can be debatable, I often hear people call games like Dark Souls "hard." To put it bluntly, this game is much more difficult than Dark Souls once it starts rolling. After you beat Mr. Saxophone you go to the Blue Mountains. Then to Picture City where the game begins to induce true rage. You need to be so precise at this point that even moving one small pixel forward will screw you over. IT DOESN'T STOP THERE COTTON. It laughs in your face and pushes all of these obstacles in your way and you're sure to get plenty of game overs. I almost gave up. I was really goddamn close to. I don't want to cheat. I want to legit beat this game. I ended up using the 99 Lives cheat though. I wasn't going to continue without it. My patience was wearing thin. You're better off using the cheat though since trying to get one life ends up risking up to 4 lives. Sure there are some that are easy to get but then there are some that involves running towards death head-on. It taunts you and isn't worth it but you get sucked into trying to get it anyway. I'm getting a little sidetracked..Anyway, most of the bosses involve a rhythm. Once you watch/dodge their attacks you get the hang of it and it gets easier. Afterwards you get to dance with the bosses and it's pretty awesome. Some of the bosses involve absolute perfect timing. With being in even a fraction off will result in the loss of a life. Possibly even numerous times. Mr. Skops is a prime example of this. He shoots out a homing ball of energy that shoots past then loops around to you. Your goal is to jump over it at the right time so it hits him instead. Sounds simple enough, but there are times where its almost unavoidable and you get hit. 

This is the piece of trash right here.

It only makes beating the boss that much sweeter. You feel on top of the world and so accomplished. Which is what I really like about the game. The final boss can be a bit tricky. It starts with three levels before the final showdown. Then the showdown with Mr. Dark begins! He taunts you with a golden fist and attacks you once you realize you can't get it. After avoiding said attacks, some Electoons help and get the golden fist for you! Afterwards you go into a gauntlet where you face the previous bosses then the fight is over. It's a little disappointing considering how difficult the rest of the game is. Even worse is you never really "fight" Mr. Dark to begin with. This is the only thing that I consider a flaw from an otherwise fantastic game.

The Final Level

The music is groovy af as well. I still frequently listen to the soundtrack. There's not one track that I skip through.

Honestly I could go on and on about how much I like Rayman. It's pure platforming magic. It is a must play no matter what kind of a gamer you are. It's not just this game, but the rest of the series is amazing. Especially Origins and Legends. Hell, I even enjoyed the Rabbids games. I'd recommend it to anyone that's looking for a fun and challenging game. Once our retro station is set up we'll have it available to try out! 
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