After patiently waiting more than a year between the announcement of the release date of Rayman 2 for the N64 and the actual release last November, fans eager for another serving of Ubi Soft's jointless platform hero were rewarded with an amazing platforming experience that truly showcased the N64. But what really surprised the gaming populace was the announcement that Rayman 2 was also in development for the Dreamcast and the PlayStation. And while the PlayStation version has yet to be released, the Dreamcast version is currently the best Rayman 2 available.
Rayman has finally made the transition into a fully 3D realm, and although not as well known as Sonic or Mario, Rayman 2 proves that you don't have to have a hugely popular character to make a great 3D platform game. Evil mechanical pirates led by the maniacal Razorbeard are enslaving the population of Rayman's world. It's up to our jointless hero to collect four magical masks that, once united, will awaken a sleeping god who will help Rayman defeat the pirates. Along his quest he'll pick up lums, which are magical fragments of the world's energy core. He'll also free creatures enslaved by the evil pirates and run into a host of friends who will help him achieve his goal.
Rayman 2 really immerses you in Rayman's world. The game offers stunning graphics, incredible sound, and tons of opportunity to interact with other characters. Almost immediately you'll run into Globox, an old friend who helps you escape from the pirate ship. From there, you'll encounter a cute fairy, a collective of tiny magical beings, a muscle-headed giant, an imprisoned whale, a polite water snake, and a few other surprising characters. They'll help you along the way by opening new routes, pulling you across chasms, giving you new powers, or even volunteering information.
The graphics are simply astonishing. People taken aback by the N64 or PC versions of Rayman should really see him on the Dreamcast. The environments are lush, the colors are vivid, and the graphics are extremely crisp. There's absolutely no pop-up anywhere in the huge levels, and the game flows smoothly from one part to the next. You won't be truly impressed until you stand atop a ledge and switch to a first-person view, in which you'll be able to look down on the entire level without any hint of fog. Rayman himself looks great, and the character design is wonderful. The robo-pirates have just the right combination of menacing and doltish, Ly, your fairy friend, looks positively elfish, and Jano, the Keeper of the Cave of Bad Dreams, looks like he belongs in a nightmare.