Stop an army of evil spirits from corrupting the entire world.
PC Release: February 21, 2003
By Ian Coppock
Our next classic game is the sequel to Rayman 2 and my favorite platformer of the early 2000s. It takes some rather drastic turns away from the original Rayman formula, yet manages to stay a good game. It’s kind of like the first two Alien films, the former a horror flick, the latter an action movie, each very different yet still good in their own way. Rayman 3 bucked some of its predecessor’s trends but even thirteen years later, it’s a fun little game to play.
Set long after the events of Rayman 2: The Great Escape, the evil robo-pirates are a distant memory and all is well in the Glade of Dreams. Rayman, gaming’s most limbless hero, spends his days and nights relaxing in the shade of the forest with his carnival freak-looking frog friend, Globox.
Do you remember the lums, from Rayman 2? The little floating fuzzy fairy things that gave Rayman his powers? Well, as it turns out, lums have a sense of fear, and when you scare one, they turn into evil BLACK LUMS!!! One such black lum begins to stir up trouble in the woods.
It’s not long before the forest is overrun with the buzzy little bastards, who steal a bunch of cloth and adorn themselves in scary boogeyman costumes. Rayman, disturbed by the noise, is joined by Globox in a race to prevent this new evil from corrupting the heart of the world.
So yeah, no robo-pirates, no giant stone monsters, this threat is bred literally out of thin air.
Rayman 3 plays pretty much identically to Rayman 2. You’re in a big, colorful, third-person platformer with lots of collectibles and fuzzy alien things. Rather than shooting lums, Rayman throws his floating fists at enemies, and can charge this ability up for a one-hit KO. You can also find power-ups useful for absolutely murdering foes, and getting through some areas of the levels.
In a substantial change from the last game, Rayman is aided along the way by Globox, who made a few appearances throughout the last game but wasn’t quite the big goofy sidekick he is in this game. You’ll need Globox’s help to get through certain areas, whether it’s bouncing on his belly or watching him get drunk on fermented plum juice.
You read that right.
Rayman 3 also features English voice acting, which was a bit of an atmosphere breaker. In the last game, the characters’ inscrutable gibberish helped reinforce Rayman 2‘s alien feel. This time, all of the characters are fully voiced by North Americans, and I was shocked to see that Globox is voiced by John Leguizamo, who plays Sid the Sloth in the Ice Age films.
Though the switch over to English took some getting used to, it also opened the floor for lots of verbal humor. However, 95% of this dialogue is the rote display of fart jokes and bad puns aimed squarely at the adolescent market. Still, I chuckled at the occasional innuendo and breaking of the fourth wall.
You’d be right to guess that Rayman 3’s narrative is a lot lighter than the last game’s, since we’re speaking of fart jokes and innuendos. The core story of this game is pretty much the same; stop an evil bad guy from destroying the world (we NEVER see that in media).
But, the nuances of the story are so outlandishly bizarre as make the story novel by default. Slight spoiler here, but Andre the Black Lum, the game’s main antagonist, ends up trapped inside Globox’s stomach. The game’s story shifts from saving the world back to finding a doctor for Globox back to saving the world, graceful as a shopping cart with a bent wheel. But yeah, about 75% of the game is tromping through some godforsaken wilderness while an evil bug trapped in your friend’s belly compels bad jokes and even worse decisions. The shit is going on here….?
Fortunately for my frontal lobe, Rayman 3 packs some action to counter-act the silliness. Because Andre is apparently telepathic, he arranges scores of his Hoodlum minions to stand between Rayman and his goal. Armed with boomstick rifles and outerwear boasting a Satanic KKK motif, these ruthless riflemen will stop at nothing to kill Rayman and free their master.
It’s just unfortunate that nearly all of them are defeated the same way. I encountered over a dozen Hoodlum varieties in my playthrough of this game and nearly all of them can be defeated by curving your punches to the sides. Some have more health, others more ammo, but they’re all basically the same enemy. This robs the game of its challenge and makes it a bit repetitive.
It occurred to me years after playing Rayman 3 that it didn’t feel like a traditional Rayman game at all. I got suspicious, and sure enough, found out that series creator Michel Ancel had almost nothing to do with this game. I have no clue why; Rayman 2 was a highly successful game. Why Ubisoft decided to stick the series’s CREATOR behind a consultancy desk is beyond me.
But then again, Ubisoft isn’t always the brightest bulb in the box, is it? I’m looking at you, Assassin’s Creed Unity.
The jokes in Rayman 3 were a lot funnier to me 10 years ago, and the combat has not aged well. However, the game’s giant, colorful worlds still retain their power, and are inadvertently the game’s saving grace. You’ll spend eight hours or so wandering through some of the most beautiful alien landscapes out there. Granted, the graphics show their age a tad, but the colors and skyboxes are hardly ugly.
Compounding this is Rayman 3‘s level design, which is tighter, funner and more varied than that of Rayman 2. The camera also works in this game, and thank Christ for that, because the camera in Rayman 2 was sometimes a greater antagonist than the robo-pirates. There’s a good amount of platforming and very light puzzling, sprinkled with Hoodlum ambushes.
Rayman 3 has a few bonus features that caught my attention more than I expected. As you play the game, you can collect gems and unlock bonus mini-games, some of which are more fun than the gameplay of the core levels. These include flying around in a rickety airplane and playing tennis with hand grenades. Humorously enough, the gems serve no apparent purpose in the main game, so collecting them is more a matter of psychotic completionism than necessity. The problem is that you can’t go back and get more gems after beating a level, so you’ll finish the game with only as many bonus levels unlocked as you could manage the first time.
Rayman 3‘s most bizarre curio, though, is a series of videos on how to kill Rayman, produced by the Hoodlums. These hilariously violent skits feature Hoodlums demonstrating elaborate ways to kill Rayman, often by experimenting on unfortunate caterpillars. I laughed a lot harder than I care to admit. I just wish the same effort had been put into the main game’s humor.
As much as I like Rayman 3, I can’t deny that much of that enjoyment was derived from nostalgia. It’s a decent platformer overall, but buying a game just because it looks pretty and because its bonus features are better than the main content are not compelling selling points. However, if you’ve got nothing better to do, head on over to Good Old Games and pick this up for a few bucks. It’s been optimized for modern machines and it runs well.
You can buy Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc here.
Thank you for reading! My next review will be posted in a few days. You can follow Art as Games on Twitter @IanLayneCoppock, or friend me at username Art as Games on Steam. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a game that you’d like to see reviewed, though bear in mind that I only review PC games.