Reviewed on Gameboy Colour
We’ve covered the first Rayman game on the PlayStation 1 not too long ago. My opinion on it was.. mixed to say the least. It was a trend in the early days of gaming however that—if you are a Platforming mascot—there must be an accompanying handheld title and low and behold, Rayman made his way to the Gameboy Colour. Obviously, the PlayStation 1 is far more powerful than the Gameboy Colour, but that doesn’t mean this port can fix some problems I had with the original. But did it?
Since this is a bonus review, I’m diving straight into the gameplay after this segment. The story remains mostly the same and is being told through pictures followed by some text, but most of the refining story parts have been cut out because of technical limitations. The same goes for the characters, of which only the Electoons and Mr Edgy McDark are still present. There is not much to say about the development of the game either as it’s literally just Rayman made for handheld consoles. He does appear in his Rayman 2 attire for whatever reason however, and so does the music. I guess you can kind of say this is Rayman 1.5 even though there is nothing related to Rayman 2 outside of presentation?
Unlike the original Rayman, this game follows a linear level-to-level structure with the world map unlocked at the very end. Or you can insert an overly complicated cheat code during the pause screen at any time to return to the overworld if you hate yourself. I am not a game designer so I’m probably talking out of my sweet bippy here, but I don’t see the reason to have a cheat code if you can return to the world map at any time anyway. And why is it so complicated to begin with? Pressing fifteen consecutive random buttons is such a chore and I don’t see the point. There’s also no save battery, so passwords are your main method of keeping progress for better or worse. All worlds are different and shorter than the original versions, but they are inspired by them so are keeping the theme regardless. Only the object-inspired lands except for Band Land are gone, which is a shame because I liked them the most.
Rayman controls pretty much the same as he does in the original game, and still needs to unlock his abilities over the course of the game. Grimacing is absent however, and Rayman can punch right away from the start. And he can hang right away as well! This truly is Rayman 1.5, just look at how our little hero has grown up! I do feel punching got a bit watered down however, as you have to stand completely still or being in the air for it to actually travel some distance and be effective. Or of course, you can charge it up like in the original game. Everything else remains the same about him, and he controls just as smooth.
The levels are trying to be as diverse as they were on the original PlayStation version, and I’d say they did a pretty good job despite the technical limitations. There’s still the water raising levels, cages hidden in levels and minigames for 1-ups which also function the same. Since levels are smaller and objects had to be hidden in there, this version of Rayman relies more heavily on ”hidden objects”, where a certain noise is made when a platform behind you spawns for example. This was also part of the original game (where you had to grab a Ting for example for a platform to spawn) but it’s more obvious in this game. I’m glad the game makes this very clear with noises however, as it also changes the music when you’re close to a cage.
While the original game did have a decent amount of combat, there is less to be found here. Enemies are far less present, and most enemy types are even absent. Wish those annoying Antitoons were part of the deleted enemies but eh, can’t have everything I guess. The same goes for the bosses however, as this game has exactly.. one! Which is the final boss and—look away if you’re extremely vulnerable to spoilers—it’s a big pushover. Whether it’s a good or bad thing is up to you, since the later bosses in the original game weren’t exactly fun either.
But the final boss being a pushover is actually fairly representative of the Gameboy Colour port in general. Compared to the
bullshit pretty high difficulty of the original, this version is rather tame. You don’t have to worry about five continues either because of the password system being the default method of keeping progress and—if you do get a game over—the password menu has the password of the progress you currently have by default on so you don’t have to enter it each time as well. The levels themselves are far more forgiving too, with less knockback and insta-kill moments. But best of all: Cages this time around are not needed to unlock the final boss! Getting all the cages actually leads to a good completion reward, which are all the bonus levels in the game on the world map and an extra final world which is just meant to test your skills. Now this is a completion bonus I can get behind. Overall the game takes a little over an hour to beat, probably double the amount for completion depending on how good you are at finding the hidden cages.
For a Gameboy Colour game, it doesn’t look bad at all. In the Caves, I did sometimes have trouble deciding whether something was a platform or not, but aside from that everything was clear. It even had a full rendered opening dance starring Rayman! Obviously it was not as beautiful as the PlayStation 1 version but you can’t expect that much from a watered-down version. I wasn’t a fan of the soundtrack however. It used several music pieces from the console version of Rayman 2, but there were loud beeps everywhere. That doesn’t mean the soundtrack is bad; I’m probably just getting old. Arcane Forest is legit though.
While the Gameboy Colour version of Rayman 1 is obviously a watered-down port, there is still enough to make it worth playing if you’re a fan of the Rayman franchise. The levels, while inspired, are different from the original version but most of all: they were tested and didn’t have an unfair difficulty as result. And that is the biggest advantage the game has over the original version: all my gripes about the difficulty, continues and cages are practically gone. Except for overly long and complicated passwords and cheats, I still don’t see the reason for that. I would recommend the later versions of Rayman 1 over this version still, but this is a good alternative regardless. And with that, here is my final verdict for Rayman GBC:
This was my first time making a sort of ”dual review”, where I take a look at two games that are the same yet also not the same. It was an interesting project, and one that I might repeat in the future. There are a lot of games with almost identical ports on the handheld devices after all. The game is available for pretty cheap on the Gameboy Colour, or on the Nintendo 3ds as digital download.