Let's be honest. Up to this point, the majority of the N-Gage's library has been, by and large, mediocre at best. It's especially disheartening, as many of the games released seem like potentially good ones that just don't come out right for one reason or another. But, if Rayman 3 for the N-Gage is any sign of things, the developers might be close to reaching their strides, as it's a legitimately good port of a great Game Boy Advance game.
Rayman 3 for the N-Gage presents an original story that liberally borrows characters and story elements from both Rayman 2: The Great Escape and Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc. The story still revolves around the same dark lum that Rayman's companion Globox accidentally swallowed, though in this version of the Rayman universe it seems that Admiral Razorbeard, the antagonist from Rayman 2: The Great Escape, is still around. Aware of the potential power that a dark lum could give him, Razorbeard gives chase.
The plot quickly takes a backseat to lots and lots of quality platforming action. Rayman is one of the more well rounded platforming protagonists, and the gameplay in Rayman 3 reflects this versatility. Though most levels basically boil down to getting from one end to the other--freeing teensies from their cages, collecting lums, and disposing of the very occasional bad guy--the actual level design remains fresh and varied throughout. The action mostly revolves around pure platforming, so you'll leap over bottomless pits, run across collapsing platforms, climb up vines, grapple on to rungs in midair, use Rayman's helicopter hair to glide your way through dangerous areas, and so on. The game also occasionally throws in levels where you'll guide Rayman through some murky swamps as he water-skis behind a friendly snake, which can be quite entertaining. Additionally, you'll encounter a few boss fights, though these are definitely not the high points of the game. Even for players who have been on the 2D platformer wagon for a while now, Rayman 3 will, no doubt, provide a good challenge. You'll be performing lots of platform jumping that requires impeccable timing, which usually gives you a satisfying test of skills, though occasionally you'll have to perform some blind jumps and commit some sections to memory if you hope to move on. On top of the single-player game, Rayman 3 for the N-Gage takes advantage of the system's Bluetooth capabilities with a few multiplayer modes. There's a capture the flag game and a couple of different games of tag that can be played with up to four players. However, all of the multiplayer games are too simplistic to offer any lasting value, especially when you consider the crippling frame rate that the game suffers from in any of the multiplayer modes.
The action might be reminiscent of 16-bit gaming, but Rayman sports an updated look, appearing much as he does in the console version of Rayman 3. His hair is a little taller, his nose is a little bigger, and he's traded in his signature red neckerchief for a little red hood, but his animation is significantly more refined. The environments generally look good, with a slightly grittier look than some of the more psychedelic levels found in past 2D Rayman games. The only area where the visuals in Rayman 3 seem to fall short is with some of the enemies--specifically Razorbeard's robot minions, whose animations look stilted and jerky. For the most part, though, Rayman looks good and moves with a certain level of finesse. Rayman 3's sound is similar to that of past Rayman games and uses a sort of dreamy, abstract soundtrack to enhance the game's rather surreal look to good effect.
Even though it's essentially just a clean port of a Game Boy Advance offering, Rayman 3 proves to be one of the N-Gage's best games so far, simply by virtue of the fact that it provides a fun single-player experience without too many caveats. On its own terms, Rayman 3 maintains the spirit of the series, without fail, by delivering a wholly enjoyable and challenging platformer. It's not wildly original or innovative. It's just fun.