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Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc

Review By:  AJ Middleton

Developer:  Ubi Soft
Publisher:  Ubi Soft
# of Players:  1-4
Genre:  Platform
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  GBA Link Cable, GBA to GCN Link Cable
Date Posted:  7-24-03

He punches!  He flies!  He…has no arms?  Yes, it’s Rayman- the hero with helicopter hair and no limbs.  It’s a pity that Ubi Soft’s Rayman never made it as well as Mario, for his adventures on up to par with the mustached plumber’s.  But, maybe it’s for the best.  Rayman’s second adventure on the Game Boy Advance in Rayman 3 is a treat for anyone who wants a good, solid platformer to get away from this crazy and untamed three-dimensional age.

Rayman 3 may be a nostalgic game for many because of what it brings to us.  In such a gaming world as that of today’s, most of the “big” games hook us with their visuals, sounds, and plots.  Anything that doesn’t fit the general standard is shunned and looked at as a “poor” game.  This is an unfair title, as many older gamers would know, because some of the greatest games of the good ol’ days were great, and they didn’t have lifelike graphics, fully orchestrated scores, or novelistic plots.  Nope, they were simple and sweet.  Rayman 3 is simple and sweet.  For example, the plot.  The story is basic and doesn’t evolve much throughout the game.  In fact, it’s told to you in the opening cinema.  Rayman’s friend, Globox, accidentally swallows the Dark Lum Chief and disappears.  Rayman sets out to find him, but the troublesome Hoodlums and their leader Razor Beard want the Dark Lum too, even if it involves catching Globox and stopping Rayman.  Simple, but it works for a platformer.  Nevertheless, it’s not too satisfying by today’s standards.

The graphics show the GBA’s power, as usual.  Rayman 3 could have easily been a SNES game.  In some cases, however, the little handheld outdoes the classic system.  The visuals in the levels of the game are sharp, bright, and very well textured, while some of the scenery and all of the story scenes have Donkey Kong Country-ish graphics.  Things run very smoothly overall.  There is also a surprising amount of detail, from the designs on objects in the background to the changing expressions on Rayman’s face.  Although it may not be a “Wind Waker,” Rayman 3 will most definitely not be a bore for your eyes.

The game’s sound is nothing special, but you can’t expect much coming from a simple platformer.  The music creates a comical and lively mood, and I admit, there are a few catchy tunes.  But the music is just that; tunes.  It’s solely for the background and not for outside listening.  The sound effects are good though.  There is a diverse amount, including Rayman’s cheer and grunts, enemy grunts, splashes, and almost any other weird sound you can think of.  So my advice to you is to enjoy the sounds in the game, because it wouldn’t be a good idea to buy the soundtrack.

But Rayman 3 isn’t about story, graphics, and music.  It’s about fun, and that’s what it brings.  The game consists of four zany and different worlds.  Each world contains the gateways to the levels.  This is different, because the world navigation isn’t set up the traditional way in which you follow a physical path of levels.  Instead, you have to walk around the world to find the next area to go to.  But, you still must follow a set order of completing each level.  The open path is good for one other thing besides a feeling of freedom, and that is that secret levels can be hidden quite easily.

Each stage has its own uniqueness to it.  All of them have Yellow Lums and Cages, which are necessary to collect to access new levels.  All also contain some weirdo enemies, like fat bears that throw pans, angry skeletons, and bony flying…things.  The layouts of each level vary.  You are rarely stuck with a normal get-to-the-end area.  Of course, you have to get to the end in all of them, but the path to do this is usually different.  For example, in one level, you have to search for four switches to hit that unlock the gate to the exit.  In another, you have to run from a giant crushing ball, and in a later level, Rayman has to hop from spider web to spider web, while avoiding their not-so-friendly eight-legged residents.  Every level has a new challenge to face, and it is fun to encounter and to overcome them.  Hey, you may even get stuck a few times.  To make things even more interesting, each level starts out having two sub-levels.  But as you move on, that number starts to increase.  Oh, and did I mention the go-cart levels that are reminiscent of Mario Kart?

Somewhere in each level lurks a boss.  The bosses each have a different weakness that you must find in order to beat them.  They generally stay with the same attack pattern, so after finding their Achilles’ heel, you shouldn’t have too much trouble.  Despite their simplicity, they’re fun to beat.  And hey, for those who like beating bosses multiple times, you’re free to do so.

Each world contains a new skill for Rayman that is necessary to earn to continue the adventure.  Usually, they are earned after beating the world boss, but some skills come otherwise.  Rayman starts the game being able to helicopter with his hair and throw his fist out for an extended punch.  Later on, he’ll learn to project both of his fists, fly, and other things.  After learning a new skill, be prepared to use it in a level or be ready to try it out on the next boss.  Don’t worry about controls; they’re easy to learn.  After all, your choices ARE limited.

Alas, Rayman 3 also contains the scourge of platformer - the extra life system.  It serves as more of a pest than a challenge, especially in this game.  Getting a game over only forces you to start at the beginning of that sub-level again.  If you get to the halfway point, called a Green Lum in this game, and you run out of lives, oh no, you’ll have to pick up from the start of the sub-level.  This can be a big deal sometimes, but usually it’s not.  If you’re going to give us a game over, why not start us from the beginning of the whole level?  The extra-lives serve as more of a waste of time than a punishment for dying too much.  All modern games should be like Banjo-Tooie and do away with it.

Rayman 3 links up with the GameCube and other GBAs.  You can link the GBA version of the game to Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc for GCN to access a new level in Rayman 3.   Hook up with another GBA using the GBA link cable, and you can play a few multiplayer games, including racing and bumper cars.  You can do the same with 3 other GBAs, but you’ll need three other copies of Rayman 3 too.


  • Fun fun fun!
  • Simple but good in such a gaming age
  • Great level innovation
  • Fun multiplayer modes


  • A good game, but a little too simple.
  • Poor storyline and music by today's standards.
  • Extra lives are annoying.

Final Verdict:

Rayman 3 is a true 2D platformer in a day of 3D adventures.  The game isn’t long, but it has a high fun factor, so you’ll be sure to enjoy it anyway.  Yet, I wouldn’t recommend buying it unless you are a Rayman fan, you have some extra cash to throw around, or you seriously need a good and simple GBA game to play.  It’s a good game, but that doesn’t make it a must buy.

Overall Score: 8.1

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