With its enchanted storybook look beautifully translated into 3D, lush, vibrant colors, funny enemy designs, and clever jumping puzzles, Rayman 2 is platforming perfection. Michel Ancel's platformer shines the brightest on Dreamcast, but every version is a charm. No arms, no legs, no problem for the little French creation that could.
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Not sure how I obtained it, but Rayman 2 was one of the first 3D platformers I've ever gotten my hands on. I remember playing it on PC with my older brother for hours. We would take turns — he would play during the platforming bits, and I would play for the on-rails segments and combat sections.
The whole experience was an absolute joy to play as a child. The difficulty was challenging enough to keep me hooked for hours, the music was atmospheric and memorable, and the gameplay was aged and janky but fun as ever.
I don't think I'll ever forget Murfy eerily whispering with his giant cheesy smile. Also, despite Rayman's friend being distinctly named "Globox," my brother and I bizarrely called him "Gobblelox."
I gotta be honest I haven't played this game in a long time and honestly I thought it was overrated.
But then I played it again.
This game is considered Michel Ancel's Magnum Opus for a reason. I could name you a hundred different reasons. This game translates the 2D artstyle from the first game brilliantly. It's unreal to play a game like this today in which the visuals were so carefully considered and beautifully executed. I swear "Art Direction" as a concept is dead in Triple-A gaming these days. And this gem from 1999 pulls it of perfectly and still looks fantastic today.
The music is again amazing. Not quite as memorable as the first game but it creates an atmosphere that's much darker and way more serious. And oh my, more serious it is this time around.
The story is a timeless little gem about the opressed rising up to overthrow their opressors. The mise-en-scène in this game is also worth mentioning. There are some breathtaking moments here, with 1999 visuals mind you. Honestly, I always thought the PS2 remakes name "Revolution" fit this game much better. A french game about the opressed rising up to topple their opressors, ye Revolution sounds about right. Of course I can also understand that "The Great Escape" is a cute reference to the 1963 film, which deals with similiar subject matter.
But here comes the king, the big one and the my undisputed favorite part of the game. The Gameplay.
The movement is slick, the jumping is damn near perfect and there is just tons of variety jam packed into a 5 hour experience. There is no filler here. Back to back to back to back to back to back awesome levels with new mechanics and secrets to find. Honestly the pacing is a thing of beauty. The unskippable cutscenes are my only gripe here.
The game only slips up once for me, and that is in the level Whale Bay. This level is in my opinion weirdly placed, reintroduces mechanics that were already explained and generally has little to offer. But that's it, it was fine honestly, just unfortunately sandwiched between 2 amazing levels.
Absolute Banger. Give it a go anyway you can. But I gotta recommend the Dreamcast version.
The Dreamcast version is so much better than the Playstation version, almost looks like an entirely different game. Great example of how to tell a story with pure gameplay. Charming and fun without being too easy. No memory card meant I never beat it, unfortunately.
With Michel Ancel leaving the industry and Ubisoft becoming more and more cynical, it seems Rayman might be as good as dead, which is a shame, as it's a great series, and this one is one of the best 3D platformers of its era.
The biggest strength of this game is it's variety. I've never seen a game do variety better than Rayman 2. Crash 3 was like, 'Here's the normal level. Here's the plane level. Here's the car level'. Rayman 2 keeps the platforming gameplay the focus, and the rest is a supplement to that. You can ride the rockets on the ground, which is different, but it's still a platformer. But then, you can fly on those rockets, and it's a very natural extension of those mechanics we know. there's slide sections, you can ride a snake, the only bad thing is the boat, which really does suck, but it's only in one level.
The worst part of the game is combat, which is often a weakness for platformers, but it feels phoned in in this one. You can lock on, shoot little light balls (instead of the detatchable limbs for some reason), and jump. These sections are rarely engaging. The enemies should've been one-hit kills, along with Rayman really. This game is fairly easy, and it rarely punishes you.
Despite its flaws, this is a great game. Don't get the PlayStation version, it's inferior.