The world of video games has seen its fair share of odd mascots: hedgehogs, plumbers, and bandicoots, just to name a few. Yet, odd as they may be, at least they come with appendages attached. Rayman, on the other hand, is Ubisoft's legless, armless face to the world. After making his mark on every major console since the original PlayStation, Rayman is now coming to the Nintendo DS.
Based on Rayman 2: The Great Escape, Rayman DS follows our favorite limb-deprived character through a marvelous 3D world. With his home world enslaved, it is up to good ol' Rayman to free his people and defeat their evil captors. From what I have seen, this game is going look great and might play even better. The environments through which you guide Rayman all seem smooth and constantly changing. You'll find yourself exploring a multitude of different areas, including waterfalls, pirate hideouts, and sea caves. Taking advantage of the DS's double screens, all of your indicators - including health, lives, and items - are displayed on the lower screen, leaving the top free to display the game's 3D glory. Also located on the bottom screen are camera controls. The portrait of Rayman in the center of the bottom screen has two arrows on either side that can be tapped with the stylus - or your thumb - to quickly change the camera angle for a better vantage point.
Gameplay looks to be an absolute blast. With a wide variety of moves and attacks at your disposal including jumping, swimming, flying, riding whirlwinds, and surfing lava, you can rest assured that there will always be a new challenge ahead. This, coupled with 45 areas to play through, will provide countless hours of baddie smashing action. One thing I am looking forward to seeing is what Ubisoft has been able to do with the control scheme. Mario 64 DS, which should be relatively similar in terms of character movement, had a somewhat awkward and occasionally difficult method of moving through the game world. Oftentimes walking on narrow paths became aggravating, and accidentally running off of cliffs was a common occurrence. Most of this was due to the DS's lack of an 8-way directional pad, and it will be interesting to see if we are given a smoother method of exploration in Rayman DS.
Also spicing things up will be the additional challenge of collecting yellow lumsť as well as the task of finding the cages where Rayman's people are being held. Rayman will also receive help during his quest from an assortment of equally strange beings, including Murphy the flying frog and the gaseous Globox. Going it alone is a thing of the past.
Making his first 3D appearance on a handheld, Rayman is sure the please. With more places to and ways to go there than you can shake a stick at, this is one platformer which will provide hours of good times. Those of you who are Rayman fans, get your DS ready for March 1st, and for those of you who aren't, you should do the same anyway. Rayman DS should be one of those great games in everyones DS collection, if for nothing else just to prove that you can still kick butt with no arms or legs.