Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc

Year: 2003
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer: Ubisoft
Genre: Adventure
Review Date: 8/11/18
Rating: ***

Rayman and his pals are peacefully sleeping in the Glade Of Dreams when a dark lum appears and starts corrupting all of the other lums it runs into. The combined hoodlums turn into an evil entity named Andre, who is bent on destroying the world. Globox accidentally swallows him, and it's up to Rayman to cure Globox before some serious harm is done.

What a difference a couple of years can make! "Rayman 3" is a considerable improvement over "Rayman 2" (2000) in nearly every regard. The levels are large and detailed, the art direction is zany and colorful, the character animations are excellent, the soundtrack is superb, and most importantly, the camera controls have been fixed so that you can freely look around with little hassle. Unfortunately, the game is also considerably more difficult, and places more emphasis on combat and time trials. Rayman also has a number of temporary power-ups that must be used for completing certain puzzles, which adds complexity and timing constraints. The guided rocket is by far the most aggravating power-up in the game and is nearly impossible to control. However, the worst aspect of the game is that the characters are fully voiced in English, rather than the gibberish language that they normally speak. The dialog is crude and abrasive, and all of the characters speak with an irritating Brooklyn accent which robs them of their playful charm. It very much feels like something that a non-U.S. based studio like Ubisoft or Rare would do, thinking that this is how Americans speak and what they sound like without doing a cultural review.

Ultimately, it was the sharp difficulty curve that made me abandon the game about an hour into it, and the inability to skip past repeated cut-scenes added to my frustration. Apart from that, it's a highly polished and fine-tuned game that's aimed at hard-core platform enthusiasts.