I must admit from the outset that I am not a fan of side-scrolling platform games. They involve way too much jumping and shooting needing split-second timing, and often end up either in a series of repetitive moves or in being trapped in locations from which there is seemingly no escape. The one platform game I have enjoyed in recent years, Sierra's Hunter/Hunted, broke many of the traditional rules of this genre and was thus quite addicting for me.
Ubi Soft first released the PC version of Rayman in 1996, and since that time the game has been quite popular in many countries. Rather than emphasizing destroying everything in sight, people and nature live together in peace in Rayman's world. Once the evil Mr. Dark steals the Great Protoon that preserves global harmony, strange disruptions begin to occur. Only Rayman can restore balance in the world.
Rayman Goldcontains the complete original Rayman game, 24 brand-new levels, and tools to build your own customized Rayman levels. You can also access the Rayman Gold website directly from the game to download new levels for the game or to compare scores with those of other players. Ubi Soft has a strong reputation as a company that goes well beyond normal efforts to provide special add-ons for its games, best exemplified by the extraordinary range of additional cars and tracks it has provided for its hit racing game POD.
The controls in the game permit keyboard or joystick/gamepad support, and either way they are quite intuitive. To begin with, Rayman can just walk, jump, hold on to vines, and crawl; but as you progress through the game, you can acquire a punching and grabbing fist, the ability to run and hang on to platforms, and even a helicopter capability. There are also many useful pickups -- for example, if you pick up over 100 "tings," you can gain an extra life, get help from a magician, or get to the next level.
The game is relatively challenging, more in terms of the need to figure out ways through seemingly impassable predicaments than in terms of the need for quick reflexes. The set of new levels is distinctly more difficult than the original set. The artificial intelligence required for adversaries in the game is minimal, and there is no multiplayer option.
The interface in the menu screens is well designed, and the usual options (including saving and loading games) are provided. The Mapper and the Events Editor provided to help you create custom levels of the game also seem quite well thought out.
The graphics in Rayman Gold are colorful and generally quite pretty to look at, but they seem a bit dated in terms of resolution and crispness. Specifically, games such as Monolith's Claw and GT Interactive's Oddworld far exceed the standard set here. The visuals in the new levels designed specifically for Rayman Gold are slightly better than the original Rayman level graphics.
The music and sound effects in the game are of average quality, distinctive neither in their originality nor in their audio quality. They do not, however, interfere in the slightest with the gameplay, and their tone is consistent with the lighthearted mood of the game.
This game has a comprehensive full-size black-and-white manual that is extremely helpful. About half of its 38 pages deals with how to install and play the game, and about half covers how to build new Rayman levels. This documentation is generally well-written, well-organized, and nicely illustrated.
System Requirements and Comments
The minimum system requirements for this game are a 90 MhZ Pentium CPU, 16 MB RAM, 35 MB hard disk space, a 2X CD-ROM drive, 256-color VGA graphics, a keyboard or joypad, a 16-bit sound card, and the Windows 95 operating system. The specifications are quite modest by today's standards.
This is not a bad action side-scroller, despite its somewhat outmoded graphics, and the ability to create and share your own levels adds substantially to the play value. But there are games out there today with a lot more innovative, exciting, and spine-tingling features than this one. So if you're one of the million or so fans of the original Rayman, don't pass this one up; otherwise, hold your horses.