Monday, June 27, 2011

Third Rate Game Play: Rayman 3D

Game: Rayman 3D

System: Nintendo 3DS

Developer: Ubisoft Casablanca
(Rabbids DS, Prince of Persia DS)

Publisher: Ubisoft

Player: Alex

Experience: Completed Game

Ubisoft is synonymous with a number of franchises today, including Assassin’s Creed and the Ghost Recon series. However, back in the late 1990s, these franchises were either nonexistent or were still growing in scope. What truly defined Ubisoft back then was one of the most highly-regarded platforming adventures of its time: Rayman 2: The Great Escape. Unfortunately, it would also become one of the most ported game in Ubisoft’s history.

Rayman was the creation of Game Designer Michel Ancel, who had previously worked on The Intruder, Pick ‘n Pile, and Brain Blaster in programming and art. Rayman, his directorial debut, was originally in development for Super Nintendo, but the project shifted to the Atari Jaguar after the SNES CD-ROM addition was cancelled. The original sidescrolling adventure would be released on Playstation, Sega Saturn, and PC as Rayman Gold, Rayman Forever, and Rayman Collector (a French-only special edition). Later, Rayman was released on Game Boy Advance (as Rayman Advance), PSN, and most recently for DSiWare.

The sequel, Rayman 2: The Great Escape, is much more well known and lauded than its predecessor, and it, too, has been ported consistently over time with little upgrades to each rendition. Rayman 2 originally released on PC and Nintendo 64, and shortly thereafter saw releases on Dreamcast, PlayStation, PlayStation 2 (as Rayman 2: Revolution), Nintendo DS (as Rayman DS), and finally on iOS and PSN. The Nintendo 3DS rendition would be the game’s ninth release in just over a decade.

Before Rayman 3D was released, Rayman had continued with Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, which saw releases on GameCube, PlayStation 2 Xbox, PC, and Mac, but Ancel left part-way to focus on Beyond Good & Evil. Following the sales failure of BG&E, Ancel returned to Rayman to create Rayman 4, which involved a race of underground rabbits hellbent on taking over the world. This Wii adventure game turned into a mini-game collection known as Rayman: Raving Rabbids. Since then, the Rabbids series has replaced Rayman in importance to Ubisoft, along with Assassin’s Creed and the Tom Clancy line of games.

The developer of Rayman 3D is Ubisoft Casablanca, whose game portfolio has been, for the most part, handheld-related. The company developed Nintendo DS versions of Rayman: Raving Rabbids, Rabbids TV Party, and both Nintendo DS Prince of Persia games, Prince of Persia: The Fallen King and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. Rayman 3D is the developer’s first Nintendo 3DS title.

"Rayman, one of Ubisoft's most iconic and beloved characters, is back to engage audiences in the thrilling 3D world of Rayman 3D. An adaptation of the classic Dreamcast game Rayman 2, Rayman 3D is a single player Action-Adventure game that blends classic Rayman gameplay with the groundbreaking features of the Nintendo 3DS/ Features include: adjustable 3D effects via the 3DS' 3D slider, improved graphics and analog controls, a variety of possible character movements, unlockables and more."
"Rayman 3D isn't a simple port - we have improved the experience by adjusting the difficulty curve and the camera angles in the game. We also improved the game system and controls to make the game more accessible for all players. We polished the characters and the level's visuals thanks to the capabilities of the console. Finally, we used stereoscopy to create more immersion so that the player really has the feeling that he or she is diving into Rayman's universe.”
-Abderrazzak Elkaouni, Producer, Ubisoft Casablanca

As stated above, Rayman 3D is the 3DS version of the classic game Rayman 2: The Great Escape. In Rayman 3D, the Glade of Dreams has been taken over by Admiral Razorbeard, and in a move to complete their takeover, the evil robot army kidnaps Rayman and removes his powers. Thankfully, his friend Globox comes to save him, and once he breaks free, Rayman learns that in order to defeat Razorbeard, he will need to obtain the four magical masks of the land to awaken Polokus and regain his full powers.

Rayman 3D is a third-person platform adventure title through mostly-linear levels during which Rayman fights against Robo Pirates and solves platforming puzzles. Throughout the adventure, Rayman collects Yellow Lums, which provide great knowledge of the world to him and allows him to advance through particular world gates within the game. Rayman can turn his head into a helicopter to cross gaps and get carried through wind currents, and he can also use his energy shots to swing on Ring Lums and sail through the air. Over time, Rayman also rides on giant fruits across lava flows and on the backs of legged bombs. This is no ordinary adventure, to be sure!

The only major addition to the game is the enhanced 3D visuals. The game is a port of the Dreamcast game, for the most part, without many actual game additions of note.

Rayman 3D released with the launch of the Nintendo 3DS, but despite the close proximity to this article, Ubisoft Casablanca already released a second title for the device since then. The game, Rabbids Travel in Time 3D, is a side-scrolling platformer for the 3DS which launched April 2011. It can be assumed that any Rayman-related game in development for Nintendo 3DS at the moment is being developed by Ubisoft Casablanca, but current games in development are unknown.

As for the Rayman series in general, creator Michel Ancel is currently working on the next big adventure for Rayman using the new Ubi-Arts engine. Entitled Rayman Origins, this adventure was originally a downloadable, episodic adventure for XBLA and PSN, but now the artistic sidescrolling multi-player game is coming to all consoles and handhelds later this year are a full-retail game. Ancel is also producing a much-anticipated Beyond Good & Evil 2, which is expected to debut on the next generation of consoles.

Ubisoft as of now has continued to release content on all consoles and handhelds. It has plenty of games in development across several franchises. To list them all here would be frivolous, as so many genres and development companies are under the Ubisoft name. The publisher’s biggest games coming out since Rayman 3D include the 3DS game Cubic Ninja and the Kinect Rez-successor Child of Eden. Games coming soon from Ubisoft include Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Driver: San Francisco.

Debuting Third Rate Game Play’s 3DS videos, Alex decides to show off a number of levels spanning the game’s adventure. The game’s introduction levels start off the video, but then a completed gamesave is used to explore later levels.

Levels demonstrated include The Cave of Bad Dreams, The Sanctuary of Water and Ice, and The Prison Ship. A quick look is given toward the game’s Bonus Levels amid the exploration of these already-completed levels.

How does the game look, sans 3D? Find out by watching the video!

Having not completed Rayman 2 before, finishing the game was a great experience for me. However, I could tell that this version of the game is not the best version. The game is full of graphical glitches, and the framerate is completely uneven, which is a shame as it looks really good at particular instances. The music is of higher-quality, but at the same time, sound effects seem to be low and occasionally have no volume, despite no attempt to mute them. Overall, Rayman 2 is a great game, but Rayman 3D is probably too expensive for a somewhat-buggy port from a game now over a decade old.

As for the recording, it was hard to set up the camera so that I could hold the system and not shift it around a lot. The camera only showed the top screen, as the bottom screen was completely stone-faced the whole time. At times, Tony made sure I readjusted the system to fit the camera’s view as well as possible. However, any problems with angles would be corrected in post-production. I would love a means to keep the system stuck in place, but for right now, the current setup is sound.

Overall, it was a good introduction using our handheld recording method, even if it does not show our faces and takes a lot of setup time to get right. As for the game, it is a standard mediocre port of an otherwise great game.

3RM Says: MMff! Good thing this Rayman guy doesn't have limbs, or else
they'd all be broken! Medic!

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