TURN TO CHANNEL 3: Atari Jaguar’s ‘Rayman’ is a vivid, underrated platform game
In some ways, the landscape of the video game industry hasn’t changed much. Nintendo is still creating memorable experiences for gamers even now as Sony continues to build on their hip, more adult style in gaming that helped bring them to gaming prominence. Microsoft is still there as well, but there are two companies obviously missing from the console wars – Sega and Atari, the latter having dropped out of the race after the dismal failure of the Atari Jaguar.
Today, however, we are going to take a glimpse into that console’s short lifespan with a game that is often one of the unsung heroes of the platform genre, “Rayman!”
“Rayman” (Atari Jaguar)
While nothing too fancy, the soundtrack of “Rayman” fits the whimsical feel the game elicits very well. The sound effects are nothing over the top either, but once again fit the overall cartoony theme of the game.
“Rayman,” from top to the bottom, both literally and figuratively, is the gaming equivalent of the old adage that less is more, and it begins with a soundtrack that doesn’t stray too far from the traditional sounds of many action platform titles of the time.
I compare “Rayman’s” graphics to games like “Legend of Mana” on the PlayStation – very much hand drawn, right out of a children’s storybook, and simply breathtaking at moments, despite being rather simple. Many games from the mid-‘90s have not aged well graphically in 2017, but I wouldn’t count this game as one of them.
There is something both nostalgic and refreshing in returning to the realm of Rayman over two decades later, and that definitely speaks to the character and detail put into the world created for the gamer. “Rayman” is a gaming fairytale come to life with some truly lush and beautiful levels and enemies.
While graphically closer to a “Sonic the Hedgehog” game, “Rayman” plays like the slower, more deliberate gameplay of “Super Mario Bros.” games. The controls are smooth, and the plethora of abilities Rayman obtains throughout the game make this a blast to play.
The hit detection is very forgiving, but if I could find one flaw in the game, it would have to be that, at times, you can’t see the ledge you need to jump to. This is a tradeoff, I suppose, as Rayman has abilities ranging from shooting fists, hanging from ledges, and growing huge flowers to help reach higher ledges but, keep in mind, with each new ability obtained, the challenges become more complex and intense.
“Rayman” isn’t just about collecting items and obtaining new abilities, but also saving caged creatures and facing off against huge bosses. I appreciated the fact that you can revisit old levels after you’ve defeated them in case you’re in need of a certain power-up or even to practice before taking on the next challenge.
With lush stages that are like works of art, cool abilities to help Rayman stand out from the pack of platform characters, and some humorous animations from time to time, it is enough for at least this gamer to ignore or at least tolerate the inability to spot ledges as you jump and some stage designs that can be rather frustrating at times. I never felt so frustrated with “Rayman” that I wanted to stop playing, and that’s saying something, considering how unnecessarily complicated the Atari Jaguar’s controls are.
I will, however, give you fair warning that, unlike other ports of this game on the PS1 or Sega Saturn, this particular incarnation of “Rayman” on the Atari Jaguar will run you into the $100 price tag and beyond. In my opinion, unless you are into collecting for short-lived systems such as this, there’s nothing wrong with going the cheaper route on the other two aforementioned consoles.
Until then, fall is in the air, and soon we’ll all be enjoying pumpkin-flavored everything, but please, as you enjoy that along with your apple cider donuts, save some room for some great retro gaming and game on!