Rayman 2: The Great Escape
Rayman 2: The Great Escape is a 3D platforming game developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and published by Ubisoft for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, and PC. Multiple ports for other platforms were released over the years.
Originally, the game was planned to be a 2D platformer like its predecessor and it would be released for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in the late Autumn of 1996. After the developers saw the newer consoles' ability to play 3D platformers such as Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot, they decided to scrap the 2D prototype in favor a full 3D game. However Ubisoft's team was inexperienced with 3D game development at the time.
Development of Rayman 2 was temporarily suspended while the team worked on a different game, Tonic Trouble, for the Nintendo 64 in order to learn how to develop in 3D and test the game engine they would use for Rayman 2. Tonic Trouble is notable for having limbless characters like Rayman and Rayman makes a brief cameo in the game. Once Tonic Trouble was completed Ubisoft resumed development for Rayman 2 once again using the Nintendo 64 as working ground.
It is unknown exactly how close to completion the 2D version of the game was before it being scrapped, but based on several concept art in some magazines the game was in a fairly advanced state. The game would play like the first Rayman game and Rayman would obtain new powers like changing the direction of his fist after throwing it. Several enemies planned for the 2D version were redesigned and included as the main antagonists of the final game.
A level of the scrapped prototype was included in the PlayStation 1 version of the final 3D game as an unlockable bonus.
The robopirates have invaded the Glade of Dreams and captured most of its inhabitants, including Rayman himself. The destruction caused by the pirates ultimately caused the heart of the world to explode into 1000 Yellow Lums, leaving Rayman along with the entire Glade of Dreams powerless against the pirate invaders.
However, Rayman's friend Globox obtained a Silver Lum from Ly the fairy which he delivered to Rayman, restoring some of his powers and allowing them to escape the pirates' prison ship. Soon after escaping however Rayman and Globox are separated. Rayman then runs into the Teensies, a disorganized group of creatures who can't agree on which of them is the King With their help Rayman finds and rescues Ly the fairy. while she's able to give Rayman more powers, she is also weakened. Ly explains that there's still one hope of defeating the pirates: an ancient spirit known as Polokus who's been hibernating for centuries. If he can be awakened by obtaining 4 Magical masks, he can take down the robots.
Rayman makes it his mission to find the masks to reawaken Polokus and collect the 1000 Yellow Lums to reconstruct the Heart of the World. Once Polokus is reawakened however, he reveals that while he's invincible in the ground he can't do anything high in the atmosphere so Rayman must be the one who raids the Prison Ship and defeat Admiral Razorbeard, the leader of the pirates.
After a final battle, Rayman defeats Razorbeard and Polokus finished destroying the robopirates in the land, effectively putting an end to their invasion. Razorbeard escapes and the Prison Ship self-destructs seemingly killing Rayman. Fortunately Rayman manages to survive the explosion and peace is restored to the Glade of Dreams.
Why It Rocks
- Excellent level design and a large amount of levels. Most levels feel completely unique and are very interesting to explore.
- Varied gameplay mechanics in many levels without straying too far away from the core platforming gameplay so they don't become tedious.
- Great graphics for its time without any noticeable distance fog.
- Well balanced difficulty.
- Like with the first game, Rayman can immediately jump after grabbing from a ledge.
- The game has a much darker tone than the first one while still keeping humor moments and fantasy themes.
- Solid one-on-one combat style.
- Obtaining all Lums and breaking all cages in each level unlocks a bonus minigame to recover heath.
- Instead of having lives, Rayman has a large life-bar which is relatively easy to refill, and falling into bottomless pits only takes away a small amount of life. Breaking cages permanently increases Rayman's life bar.
- Collecting Lums unlocks backstory logs of the game's lore.
- After clearing the level "Cave of Bad Dreams", Jano (he was not named Jano until GBA Rayman 2) offers the player his treasure, and in most versions of the game the player can actually say yes. If they do, they get a comical non-canon ending with a fat lazy Rayman resting at a deserted island surrounded by the treasure.
- In the PlayStation version of the game, defeating the final boss unlocks a demo of the 2D prototype of the game.
- The soundtrack is rather washed out on the Nintendo 64 version.
- Sliding sections have very stiff controls that make grabbing Lums very frustrating because Rayman contiously refuses to take simple turns.
- Lackluster combat.
- The PlayStation version of the game is notorious for lacking a large amount of content. The game also suffered from two bad handheld ports.
The game was critically praised by critics, often called one of the best 3D platformers ever made. The Dreamcast version is usually said to be the best port of the game. The PlayStation version on the other hand is considered the worst as it lacks a large amount of content with some levels being completely removed.