Kicking off Retro Corner is the 2D side scrolling platform game, Rayman, released in the year 1995. It’s the first ever game I played as a child, so I thought it the best one to start with. The plot of Rayman revolves around the Great Protoon, which has been stolen by Mr Dark (his parents really wanted him to be a villain). This object keeps cosmic balance within Raymans world along with the Electoons that have been scattered across the worlds. The game itself is made up of six levels: The Dream Forest, Band Land, Blue Mountains, Picture City, The Caves of Skops and Candy Château. The player must battle through and free all the Electoons in order to defeat Mr Dark.
This dude shoots hammers at you. Bullet hammers.
The beginning level will frustrate a few people as Rayman has yet to be equipped with a helpful power. You must go through the Dream Forest first without an ability which is given to you by Betilla the Fairy upon completing the level. After my recent play through of the game, I found myself punching just about anything when I got the chance. This also required me to revisited the level in order to free the Electoons and gather helpful items. Once you have the punch ability, you stand a better chance enemies and punching plums. With each level the player completes, a new power is granted.
Yes, you read that right. Dem plums.
Of course each level has its own challenges that test the player’s patience. My advice for Dream forest: Don’t fall in the goddam water. Not included in Raymans many abilities is the ability to swim. The water of the level provides an instant death to the player. Not only do you lose a life but any bonuses such as a golden fist (yes, you read that right too), the tings and extra hit points. This happens in one form or another in the other later levels.
Yup, pencils are out to get you too.
I can understand why the game mechanic is there. You cannot go through the game farming lives without some form of consequence. Rayman, as super-powered as he is, needs to have a weakness. If the player was able to breeze through the game, then it wouldn’t be worth playing. The creatures in place need to give the player a challenge along with the objects that need to be dodged. This might cause the play to swear a few times but completing the level is well worth it.
During the course of the levels, you have array if enemies that respawn like no tomorrow. You punch one and another appears a few seconds later.
You have the standard foot soldiers who are like the anti-Rayman. Their feet and hands seem float around their bodies like the protagonist but hell, are they ugly. They are out above trying to grab you which gives you a nasty bit of damage. If you’re near the water, they will push you in it. Gits.
This buggy enemy as a habit of following Raymans movements, if you go backwards so does he and vice versa. It is actually quite hard to land a punch. His foot is also separate from his body, so fly-boy can land a kick from far away.
These are anti-Electoons. They turn up on all levels. Small and agile, they are quite hard to hit.
I don’t actually have anything for this thing, it’s just too weird to ignore. It has a habit of throwing up foot soldiers when punched though.
And then at the end of each level you have the fun, imaginative bosses. You even get chased down by Dark Rayman. There’s always an evil counterpart. There are bosses like this:
You better be afraid of that cannon rolling pin, Rayman.
You know you’re in trouble when you have to battle a scorpion on fire.
Yup, you have to battle a Viking/space pirate woman with a cannon rolling pin. Still need convincing to the play the game? The bosses at the end of each level are linked in with what ability you acquired from Betilda. Sometimes punching isn’t enough. Each boss has a weakness in which the new ability has to take advantage of. In some games, players are given abilities that they will only need for one level and then forget about them later on. In case of Rayman, all levels have something that requires you to use all the abilities. This can be seen as rather annoying in some cases as the first two levels you don’t have many choices and have to revisit them Dream Forest and Band Land to get extra items.
For a game that has been out for seventeen years, it has aged well. When playing PS1 games, I sometimes find myself vaguely annoyed the chunky graphics. It’s not the programmers fault of course, but flat faces of old Resident Evil games hits Uncanny Valley territory. Sometimes the characters misshapen faces are scarier than the game itself. The first Rayman had managed to dodge this hammer/bullet by its cartoonish appearance. Aesthetically pleasing to the eye, it draws in both adult and children audiences with bright colours and imaginative drawings.
Rayman is taking a moment to appreciate how shiny the path is.
The music to Rayman is pretty darn good too. Each piece is well tailored to the level. For Dream Forest, you have the cheerful tune, which progresses into something more sinister as the player progresses. Band Land (which is my favourite) has an awesome build up that has an interesting beat with undertones of something nastier waiting for Rayman. The Cave of Skops track knows how to freak out the player moving away from the cheerful tune in the beginning of the game.
Now, I like Mini games. When the Rugrats in Paris video game came out, I was floored. A game made entirely of Mini games! Anyway, that’s for another time. For Rayman, we have the Magician from the beginning of the game turn up every so often to aid the player in obtaining lives. Now, he only deals in Tings, so he better deliver the good stuff. Each Mini game has a timer on it for the player to gather all the Tings in order to get there reward. Failure to do so means the player does not get all the Tings back and doesn’t get the extra life. That’s Ting life for you.
Tings. Not even once.
As far as games go, I think Rayman one of the best early platform games. With a fairly basic storyline for children and adults to follow, it offers weird and wild worlds for the player to explore. Despite the annoying water and some overpowered enemies, it’s well worth taking up the challenge. Tune in next time where I’ll be going over Final Fantasy VI and reasons for a revisit.