Rayman: Hoodlums' Revenge Preview

We go hands-on with the limbless Rayman's latest platforming escapade.

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Everyone's most beloved limbless superhero, the talented Rayman, will return for a new series of adventures on the small screen in Rayman: Hoodlum's Revenge for the Game Boy Advance. Much like the title suggests, the wicked Hoodlums (evil versions of the peaceful, native lums) are back to no good, as they've captured Rayman's pal, Globox, to forward an unknown criminal agenda. We were able to get some hands-on time with this handheld platformer, which has a slightly different look but attempts to hold closely to the Rayman formula.

He's got no arms and no legs, but he's got lots of heart.
He's got no arms and no legs, but he's got lots of heart.

Unlike its side-scrolling brethren, Hoodlum's Revenge is an isometric action game, much like the Spyro the Dragon titles also on the GBA. Rayman still jumps, punches, and uses his helicopter hair to glide across all sorts of chasms and obstacles while on his way to gathering jewels and lums to make it to the level exit. You can use the right trigger to lock on to nearby enemies as you pummel them, and you can use the left trigger to root Rayman while you move the camera a little bit, which is very helpful in finding your way around the levels and in seeing any jumps you might have missed. Gauging some of these jumps can be a little tricky due to the viewpoint, but if you fall on a hazard (like water or spikes), Rayman will be thrown into the air as he takes damage. You'll subsequently have a chance to try to float to safer shores. There will also be gadgets along the way that give the largely incorporeal hero boosts, like actual sets of helicopter blades that take him much farther than normal glides...so long as he moves along a path of blue lums, which power the device. The teensies are around as well. Essentially, they're little creatures that alert you to their positions with their cries. Freeing them, as well as earning points by beating enemies and collecting lums, can unlock new levels and games for you to try.

There still seems to be plenty of challenge in this installment, though as we mentioned, some of it surrounds knowing where you can make your jumps. In addition, you'll frequently be aiming for small patches of safety that often feature numerous enemies waiting for you to land. So, of course, you'll have to be cautious in trying to avoid these enemies. While the platforming is the main focus, we did fight in at least one "boss" level against a machine the Hoodlums were using to power their dark deeds. Stepping on a switch would lower a platform with a special power-up that let Rayman gradually punch the device's four parts to smithereens. Meanwhile, Rayman had to simultaneously avoid three sources of projectiles.

Rayman's not alone, either, because in some of the levels you'll be controlling the slow-moving Globox as he attempts to free himself from the clutches of his dark lum captors. You could think that his levels are like those found in a stealth action game, though without the stealth. Normally, Globox must avoid his captors, because if he's spotted by them he runs away in terror, flailing his limbs and careening down whatever path is available. To pluck up his courage, however, you'll have to find kegs of plum juice that are scattered throughout his levels. Once he's had a swig of the ambrosia, Globox is filled with power, which lets him charge through your foes by pounding them into oblivion. He'll then have access to a number of switches he can use to open the many gates he'll need to pass through to make his escape.

Rayman is not very large or detailed in his new isometric game perspective, but he still looks good as a character, and he and his invisible limbs animate smoothly and well. The worlds we've seen are clean and colorful, though they're not overrich with embellishment. The music is filled with whimsical, light tunes that complement the look of the levels you pass through. Globox moves as you would expect such a giant to move, which is somewhat slowly. But neither speed nor dexterity is needed for his levels...just plum juice and patience for when he gets spooked.

Expect future reports of plum juice-induced violent rampages to be directly attributed to this game!
Expect future reports of plum juice-induced violent rampages to be directly attributed to this game!

While Rayman: Hoodlums' Revenge sports an isometric look and a somewhat different play style from previous titles in the action series, Ubisoft seems to have kept many of the series' core tenets intact. Fans who don't mind a little change will be looking down on their invisible friend when this title is comes out for the Game Boy Advance later this year. Stay tuned to this gamespace for more coverage and media as Rayman's release date approaches.

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