Rayman 3 HD is a good game that has not aged very well. This must be well understood, or nothing good can come of this review. Rayman 3's not a bad game by any means; it’s just not that great of a game in 2012. It’s weird, honestly, reviewing remakes of games. You have to consider the game when it was made, the game in the present and the quality of the porting itself. Looking at Rayman 3 in the context of 2003, I can see why it got a lot of 8’s. But Rayman 3 in 2012 is held back by a lot of mechanics that have rightfully been left behind and an atmosphere that is simply not fitting to the Rayman world when compared to Rayman 2 and Rayman Origins. As for the porting job, the game looks great, but that’s about it.
The premise of Rayman 3 is that Andre, a black lum, is trying to take over the world. Globox, your trusty blue toad-like friend, accidentally swallows Andre and you must find a way to get him out and save Globox. To do this, you’ll travel all over the Glade of Dreams, fighting black lums as well as the Knaaren, a race of underground fish-people. To be clear, the game never says they are fish-peaple, I'm just assuming.
Rayman 3, at its most reductive, is a combat focused platformer. You spend most of the game either traversing the environment or punching dudes with your throwable fists. And you’ll spend much more time punch dudes then simply traversing the world. Which is sad; the platforming has always been one of the series’ better parts but combat takes the center stage here. New to the Rayman series are power ups. Power ups lasts for only a short amount of time but also give the game most of its variety. One power up increases you melee power, thus allowing you to punch through weak doors, while another allows you to guide a rocket though the air. There are five power ups in all, but instead of letting you use them at will, the game dictates where they are activated. This sort of mechanic keeps the game in line with most platformers and away from being an action game despite most of your actual time spent in the game will be closer to the latter.
You control Rayman as you would expect, but the game takes more control of the camera than it should. This is a prime example of the game’s roots in 2003. I found myself fighting the camera often because of being used to having more control over. Here, it moves a lot on its own. That;s not bad, per se; it simply makes the game feel old. As does the combat, which is slow and clumsily utilizes the left trigger to lock-on to enemies.
Unlike Rayman Origins, Rayman 3 is not very difficult, but it is frustrating in some places. Like other Rayman games, levels are broken into small sections that you traverse. Every time you die, you start at the beginning of the section rather than the entire level. But I found the sections a fair amount longer than they need to be and without any mid-section checkpoint. Thusly, I found myself replaying 10 to 20 minutes worth of gameplay repeatedly.
There are also a fair amount of unlockables in the form of extra levels. You gain points by beating enemies, collecting jewels and so forth. Reaching certain teirs of points unlocks additional levels that range from a quick 2D level to more full-fledged activities. For a downloadable game specifically, there’s a large amount of content in Rayman 3.
If there is an area that Rayman 3 HD shines the brightest, it is in the visuals. As both a 2003 game and a downloadable game in 2012, Rayman 3 looks great. The visuals have been upscaled nicely with only a few noticeable blemishes in the way particle effects are handled. Otherwise, the visuals are generally bright and smooth and fit the world of Rayman well.
Conversely, if there is a place that Rayman 3 falters, it’s in its ability to entertain. Unlike other Rayman games, Rayman 3 is fhas too much “tude.” Rayman himself has a hoodie instead of a scarf, spikey hair and skate-, snow-, and even lightboards. It has almost none of the whimsy nature of the other games. It feels like it’s trying too hard to be relevant rather than embracing its “off-the-wallness.” The story is darker than it should be; the music is forgettable and worst of all, characters talk. Let me put it this way, there is a very good reason Rayman Origins went back to having all of its characters speak gibberish.
While it’s not a bad game, Rayman 3 is easily the worst Rayman game of the main series and there are simply too many other games that do what Rayman 3 tries to do better than it does. If you’re looking for a new Rayman experience, Rayman Origins is your ticket; if you looking for another game by Michel Ancel, Beyond Good & Evil is particularly great and if you want a combat focused platformer with great sense of humor, Psychonauts is a fantastic choice.
In the end, Rayman 3 just doesn’t make much sense on the gamescape of 2012. It would have been more logical as a pre-order bonus for Rayman Origins than its own thing. It's a good port of a pretty good game that relies too heavily on combat rather than platforming and should only be experienced by those that can’t get enough Rayman.
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.