As side-scrolling, video games go, Rayman is excellent. Take any good scroller like Donkey Kong or Pitfall, add scintillating colors, wonderfully clever gaming elements, engaging and humorous characters, terrific music, and heaps of whimsy and you have Rayman.
Rayman is a laid-back hero, extolled to exit his hammock and restore balance to his recently disrupted world. Despite having no arms or legs (he does have hands and feet) he ably sets about his tasks.
Essentially Rayman's role is to free the caged Electoons, little pink and yellow balls which, when freed, fly off leaving blue contrails in gratitude. Rayman travels through six fantastic, fanciful worlds on his quest, searching for six caged collections of Electoons per world. Along the way Rayman occasionally meets a friendly female fairy named Betilla, who is slowly regaining her powers as Rayman does his thing. She doles out extra, sometimes comical, powers to Rayman like helicopter ears and flying, glowing punches.
Each level is chock-a-block with bizarre and zany enemies, beautiful and incredibly imaginative scenery, and several, secret side-trips. As you complete various sections, and gain more powers, you can click on a map and return to previously played levels and seek out those hidden goodies.
Despite its beauty and magical qualities, several flaws scratch at my craw. As is true for many side-scrollers, there are minimal save options which lead to terminally tedious replays. You have to complete several scenes before an auto-save kicks in. The only way to see the fanciful introductory animation is to load a ridiculous 50 MB on your drive, while a "full" install takes a sublime 94 MB! I did the medium load, watched the animations, then did a minimum, 10 MB reinstall. Plus some of the secret locations are darned difficult to find, even using the tips available on Ubi Soft's website.
Rayman is side-scrolling, comic animation at its finest. Both experienced video gamers and newbies will find it absorbing, engaging and amusing.