Game Over Online ~ Rayman Pocket

GameOver Game Reviews - Rayman Pocket (c) Ludigames, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Rayman Pocket (c) Ludigames
System Requirements Palm OS 3.0, Palm III, or Pocket PC
Overall Rating 92%
Date Published Friday, October 12th, 2001 at 09:10 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

When Rayman first came out on the PC, I have to admit that I was not entirely receptive of it. At first glance, it seemed like a platform game in the same vein as Mario or Sonic. Since then, Rayman has proliferated to every gaming platform and its design has won rave reviews. I still wasn't convinced of Rayman. It is hard to take seriously a dopey guy like Rayman with detachable floating gloves. Yet, my experience with Rayman on the Pocket PC has really convinced me that this is the actual charm of the franchise. Ludigames has converted Rayman on to the Pocket PC and Palm OS platforms. Rayman Pocket is the result.

Often, I encounter titles of two distinct flavours: those that are technically proficient and those that harbor incredible charm to overcome their dated nature. Quake III Arena, for example, is a technical tour de force. The Sims, on the other hand, can arguably be called a slightly more primitive game but the charm it exudes places it far above any other titles. As many people know, the Pocket PC gaming arena is still in its relative infancy. Great strides have been made to really put on a technical show. Yet, many of the Pocket PC games released are not exactly jaw-droppingly attractive. Rayman Pocket manages to fuse slick visuals with a lot of charm.

Whimsical is perhaps the best adjective used to describe the world of Rayman. No other place could giant plums and trumpets exist side by side. Rayman traverses through several worlds that have their own motifs. The artists in this game give each environment a different palette and the backdrop is visually stimulating. An abundant amount of color and animation help bring the universe to life. Moreover, this is not merely l'art pour l'art or art for art's sake. Plums help your persona cross rivers while trumpets lift you higher up in the air. The imagination used for Rayman is remarkable and gives a fresh twist to the often times, monotonous jumping exercises.

The audio components of Rayman are nothing short of stellar either. The background music and sound effects are equally light-hearted. A continuous soundtrack, I have to say, is rare in PDA games. And one that is a thematically sound composition is a real gem. All this is wrapped up in colorful easy to use menus and an introductory movie; care and polish normally attributed to PC games. Kudos to Ludigames for this.

The premise of Rayman has you freeing innocent beings and battling out with a character known as Mr. Dark. This becomes the raison d'etre for Rayman as he criss-crosses between multiple worlds, saving little munchkins called Toons (who are apparently the lifeforce of the universe and yes it all sounds too fantastic). Recently, I reviewed another French developed title, Fade, in which the whole game took an extraordinary amount of memory on the Pocket PC. Ludigames took one of the suggestions I gave to the Fade developers to heart. They have split up the different worlds, so you can use an application that runs on your PC to upload specific worlds (or chapters of the game) to your Pocket PC. You can play worlds over and over again but to progress, you have to keep installing new ones. With around thirty levels altogether, I can assure you, there is no shortage of gameplay.

It was not until very recently that Rayman made its first switch to a 3D world. Other platform stalwarts like Mario or Sonic have done so as well to keep modern. Rayman on the Pocket PC is entirely 2D but the excellent presentation makes up for that. Like another European franchise (this one across the channel), Worms, 3D has not been the driving factor of Rayman releases. The piece de resistance of the Rayman franchise has always been level design. In this rendition, this fact certainly proves true. None of the levels are too mind numbingly hard and I admit, I am not the best platform player in the world. Some levels can be explored fully by the player but they do not need to be entirely played through to finish the game. You can always return to discover more secrets later. Other levels involve old tricks, like water filling up from the bottom of the screen, in a bid to make you finish quicker. One unique thing about Rayman Pocket is an online challenge mode. Taking a page from Ubisoft, you can compete with a 'ghost' Rayman and you must beat this Rayman in finishing off the level. I first saw ghost mode in Ubisoft's POD and I thought it was a more than excellent idea to make up for the lack of multiplayer. Certainly, the ghosts in Rayman are fun to play with and add a twist to the traditional world-oriented platform game.

There are two technical issues I have to comment on with Rayman. Ludigames has done an excellent job in modifying the game to fit the iPaq. To combat the simultaneous button problem, two prominent virtual buttons are all you will need to play Rayman. Other Pocket PC machines, of course, do not have these, so they do not possess this problem. Yet from all the mainstream ads I have seen, from investment brokerages to Dockers, the general consensus seems to be; you can't go wrong with Compaq, so I'm sure the majority of Pocket PC owners will be happy. The other technical issue is more of an Achilles heel for Ludigames. Because the game needs to create its own ActiveSync category to handle shuffling game levels on and off of the PDA, it creates some unneeded complexity. I had the hardest time trying to input my registration code into the PC portion of Rayman and I needed much re-syncing to actually get the Pocket PC portion of Rayman to recognize what was considered by the PC portion as a valid registration code. Perhaps I don't read instructions carefully enough but it is here where the Palm version probably has some "simplicity" compared to the Pocket PC.

This single issue prevented me from awarding Rayman a higher rating. Make no mistake about it, Rayman Pocket has single-handedly become, in my humble opinion, the best platform game, par excellence, for the Pocket PC. Most titles may excel in one or two areas but Ludigames has assembled many good features into a polished, professional and attractive package. Furthermore, they have not forgotten the quintessential element of a successful game; entertaining fun. As I said before, this game has an exuberant charm attached to it. I was reminded of the last 2D platform games that I admired in the early to mid 1990s, Aladdin and Lion King. Having just passed through the Rayman euphoria, I can say I'm convinced that Rayman is indeed a hit and if it continues to be spawn titles like these, it could easily be the platform mascot for the PC and maybe even PDAs as well.

[09/10] Addictiveness
[19/20] Gameplay
[14/15] Graphics
[10/10] Interface/controls
[09/10] Program Size
[05/05] Sound
[04/05] Discreetness
[13/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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