Written by serialexperimenter
|Ubisoft Studios SRL
I really do miss the days where different versions of games would come out on different platforms. It added some interesting variety and sometimes you'd get very interesting takes on the same concept. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater for the PS1 is an amazing game, and the Gameboy Advance Tonky Hawk games were a great translation of that style of game to an isometric perspective that worked on the GBA. Now translating a platformer to a portable system doesn't require the same amount of ingenuity, but Rayman for the Gameboy Color is an interesting downport of what is a more visually stunning PS1 game to the small screen.
The most major change from the PS1 Rayman experience is that there are no boss fights except the final one against Mr. Dark. I am not too torn up about this as I always found the HP sponge bosses of Rayman 1 a bit dull to do after a while. Combat in general is deemphasized in this version, which is good as it does feel a bit clunky when it does come up. It felt like I had trouble making punches connect when it looked like it should have, and similarly I felt like there were some general hitbox issues on receiving damage as well. This doesn't come up too much, but it is frustrating when it does. Overall the controls are a bit muddy, but serviceable most of the time. The GBC version really de-emphasizes combat overall to focus more on platforming.
The level design is overally enjoyable and not as difficult as the original game.. You do still have some of the somewhat maddening "walk somewhere to invisibly trigger a change elsewhere" elements that Rayman 1 had, but I didn't get stuck on those too much. Exploration for electoon cages is the main collectible and each level has a different number of them available, indicated in the HUD at the bottom. Once you beat the game, you unlock a world map that lets you go back to the earlier levels to wrap up your collection. Like the original there are several levels based around rising water that I had a bit of trouble with when hanging from ledges was involved, but I didn't get stuck too much in this game. It's a much easier experience overall than the original game its based on, which is nice and in combination with the smaller set of levels and worlds, lets it be a bit of a breezy play through.
I liked the levels that mirrored the original's Band Land, called Airy Tunes in the GBC version. It captures the same feel and look as that level and has some fun new platforming gimmicks original to this game. My only major complaint is that several of the worlds are varaitions on "forest" as the theme and look a bit samey. I would have liked a few more different-looking zones to play in, but what is there is good. The game also has a secret final world once you collect all the electoon cages that serves as a final challenge as well. I played it a bit using a password to get there, because I didn't enjoy the game enough to 100 percent it.
The graphics attempt to capture some of the detail of the PS1 game, but it can make the screen a bit busy. I think it looks good overall, but there were a few times where I wasn't sure what was interactible or just part of the background. Rayman's sprite looks good, as do the enemies and some of the small "cutscenes" between worlds.
I would reccomend giving it a shot for at least a few worlds if you're a Rayman fan or looking for a platformer from the era you haven't tried before. Not the best platformer, but it was a real pleasant surprise to play a Rayman game I didn't know existed.