The PlayStation version of Rayman was an amazing platformer that, despite its ridiculous difficulty, was an international hit that established Rayman as one of the marquee characters in the video game world. Ubi Soft is making sure that people who missed the first game can get in on a good thing by rereleasing the game in its entirety on the Game Boy Advance. We had the chance to sit down with a near final version of the game and were surprised to see Rayman looking better than the original.
The game tells the story of Rayman, an everyday hero who must rescue the world from the nefarious Mr. Dark. Dark has destroyed the harmony of the world by stealing the great protoon, the mystical energy source that sustains Rayman's universe. After destroying the great protoon, Dark scattered its parts, the electoons, throughout the world, creating an evil version of the land. Rayman must rescue these imprisoned electoons and eventually face Dark if he's to restore the harmony of his land.
The GBA version of the game is exactly like the original PlayStation version. The game is a throwback to the classic side-scrollers of simpler days, and the gameplay mostly revolves around jumping and punching enemies. Rayman starts with no powers, but as he progresses through the game, he can learn new techniques from Betilla, the fairy. Betilla will teach Rayman how to do useful things like throw his fist at enemies, use his fist as a swing, and catch ledges and climb to platforms. You'll have to use all these powers as you make your way through the game's 68 levels. Digital Eclipse has done an amazing job of re-creating the PlayStation version of the game--Rayman Advance has everything you'd see if you were playing the PlayStation game. The company did take some liberties, and it has tried to address the difficulty issue of the first game by adding more save points, tweaking some of the more difficult jumps, and making enemy spawn points stand out with a small sparkling icon. These changes have helped a small bit, but the game is still fairly difficult, and it may turn the casual platformer fan away.
Rayman Advance is one of the most visually stunning Game Boy Advance games we've seen. The game actually looks and moves much better on the GBA. Digital Eclipse has spent plenty of time tweaking the graphics set and engine to make sure that Rayman performs beautifully. The result is an amazingly lush environment and a set of characters who move fluidly and naturally. Additionally, the game has spectacular sound, and even some of the more complex songs from the PlayStation version of the game sound good on the GBA. Unfortunately, the game's intro sequence has taken a hit, and it's now told through a series of still images. Still, this is easily forgotten once you get into the meat of the game.
Though it's a little odd to see so many old games being reborn on the GBA, Rayman is definitely one of the games that we're waiting to play again. With everything that made the PlayStation version such a hit and a few tweaks to address some of the more painfully difficult areas of the game, Rayman Advance is looking like it could be one of the top games available at the US launch of the GBA.