Another unoriginal platform game then? Well yes obviously its going to be unoriginal, but think what platform games these days make the impact of Mario 64 or the original sonic the hedgehog games. None, the problem is that its near impossible to create something fresh in this genre, (just look at Vexx for evidence of that) even Mario Sunshine struggled to do it. However, that doesn't stop developers being able to present some aging ideas in a fun filled and polished new way and that's what Rayman 3 achieves.
The Rayman series has always had a style of its own and that continues in this instalment. Graphically it looks like no other game, somewhere between being very cute and very twisted. The visuals are truly stunning, better looking than even Mario Sunshine due simply to the amount of colour on the screen. Its clear attention has been paid to even the tiniest details as you move from swamps to underground caverns, each area looking dramatically different to last.This means you never get stuck with staring at the same old background or textures. Everything is polished up to its shiny best, not a rough edge anywhere, though I suspect the Playstation 2 version may have a few.
Furthermore the cut scenes have to be seen to be believed truly gorgeous. What really compliments the graphics in creating the unique feel of the game is the wacky humour packed into almost every inch of it. Whether it be the characters shouting insults, or on one occasion Globox talking to flowers, this game is funny. It made me laugh on numerous occasions as one bizarre thing happens after another. Those crazy French. The humour is also personified in some of the extras. Under the bonus section is a list of unlockable lessons. What these amount to are about fifteen or so small sketches in the same sort of style asMonsters Inc, where by a black lump is shown how to attack Rayman. Hard to describe but hilarious to watch.
Happily the game play matches the fun set up by the graphical finesse. There is very little in this game that will frustrate you. The camera is just about perfect, and the controls are the most responsive that I have come across for a long time. You can hover around, swing about and punch to your hearts content happy in the knowledge Rayman is reacting as fast as you are. The only minor problem is sometimes the camera is just a touch too far away and you can end up misjudging the distance of where the next ledge that you need to grip onto is. However, this occurs about twice in the whole game so not a major issue.
Levels themselves are more or less your standard platform fare, move around the 3D environment, unlock doors, find hooks in the sky to swing on ect ect. But there are a few nice moments such as skating along inside a disco jukebox and racing about in a shoe, which apart from being just plain weird helps to brake up the more standard play. Unfortunately the problem with the game is simply that it's too easy. I managed to get through the whole thing and died about four times.
That said, you don't care because it's so genuinely great to play. But once finished there isnt a lot of replay value to be had except to unlock more extras such as the lessons and the mini-games. Really that isn't enough as the mini-games themselves aren't that good and consist of mainly dull things such as bouncing on balloons or driving a missile through an assault course.
There are a couple of exceptions however, the frog squashing game is genius and the link up shoe racing Tetris hybrid is one of the most brilliant things ever done in a video game. Basically this involves one player with the game cube driving Rayman down a road in a shoe towards a goal. The other player must build the road on the GameBoy Advance where blocks fall down the screen in the style of Tetris. Its totally addictive and you don't even need the Rayman 3 GameBoy Advance release to play it.
To sum up I loved playing Rayman 3, it's fun, colourful and very funny. Just dont be expecting either a major leap forward for the platform genre or a stiff challenge as it's lacking in both. What's here is polished and beautiful -there's just not enough of it. Saying that, if you have a GameBoy Advance as well its a must have game simply for the shoe racing.