Each Rayman game, ranked:
When it comes to platform game heroes, Rayman is among the greats. With his helicopter-like hair, floating torso, and endearing, mischievous smile, he...
When it comes to platform game heroes, Rayman is among the greats. With his helicopter-like hair, floating torso, and endearing, mischievous smile, he has conquered and kicked his way into the hearts of gamers worldwide. And although he hasn't appeared in a full-fledged main game since 2013, Rayman perfectly embodies the idea of quality over quantity.
All five of his solo console adventures have something to offer, whether it's refined gameplay, visual flair, or that distinctly French, ironic humor. But which Rayman game is the cream of the crop?
5 Rayman (1995)
Well, we all have to start somewhere. In the late 80s, Rayman came to life when game designer Michel Ancel doodled him as part of an exercise. Rayman would then go on to experience his first adventure on the PS1, SEGA Saturn, PC, and Atari Jaguar.
Although creatively enriching and still an absolute cultural milestone in the world of video games, it unfortunately doesn't quite compare to its successors. In this first adventure, Rayman has the task of rescuing the Electoons from Mr. Dark - with such a name, he didn't really have many career options.
You will explore six worlds of different sweetness, including one made of candy and one constructed from musical instruments. It's all very delightful, and to be fair, it looks undeniably phenomenal for the mid-90s. This extends to Rayman's fluid movement, which has more frames than an overcrowded art gallery and gives even simple jumps a sense of weight. Unfortunately, an unrelenting difficulty level, stemming from an era when games were too short to take the risk of making them easy, just enough to push Rayman 1 to the bottom of the list in terms of experience.
4 Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc (2003)
Rayman 3, one of the two 3D games in the series, attempts to evolve the gameplay concept introduced in Rayman 2. However, it overall takes a step back, even though it represents an improvement in many aspects compared to its predecessor. Rayman 3 was not developed by Michel Ancel's usual team but by an independent team and was explicitly aimed at a younger audience who may not have necessarily experienced its classic era.
This becomes immediately apparent with Rayman's slight redesign, which gives him a more distinctive, robust appearance - and, of course, a confident smirk on the cover. Much of the playfulness from Rayman 2 is gone, and many of the characters that became popular after that game have been replaced by sprawling, monochromatic environments and self-indulgent, confident, post-Shrek dialogues.
There is also a strange fixation on mini-game levels, such as an awkward snowboarding segment. But credit where it's due: the story is crazy and makes Rayman 3 a worthwhile venture in its own right. Where else would you see Globox facing a surgical dissection?
3 Rayman Origins (2011)
Rayman's triumphant return to the platform game scene after an almost ten-year absence (aside from a few handheld games and his collaboration with the Rabbids) brought the adventurous hero back into the spotlight. With a vibrant, hand-animated style and buttery-smooth controls, Origins set a new standard for 2D co-op platform games.
Once again, the plot is appropriately crazy as Rayman and his friends mysteriously find themselves in the land of the living dead due to their annoying snoring, where a race of ruthless and grumpy creatures reside.
Frustrated by sleep deprivation, they send an army up, and soon the realm of dreams is once again threatened, with the captured voluptuous nymphs. Well, we can't allow that. Whether alone or with a group of three friends, you will rush, whirl, and karate through some of the most challenging platform courses in the genre, including action-packed chase sequences and screen-filling boss battles. Rayman hardly gets any better than this.
2 Rayman Legends (2013)
Until it happened. If Rayman Origins was the appetizer, Legends is a complete feast of everything that made it great - and more. Through sheer dark magic, it seems, Ubisoft has taken the already perfect art style of Origins and enhanced it. It oozes with character; it's Rayman's world seen through the lens of a Studio Ghibli animator who has just devoured the entire Pixar library.
Fortunately, the gameplay is also fantastic, and although co-op is once again a highlight, you'll have just as much fun in single-player mode. Legends was originally planned as an exclusive game for the Wii U, and that beleaguered system remains the optimal way to experience this masterpiece. The imaginative Murfy levels, for instance, are designed for the GamePad and therefore work best with it.
There's also a variety of side content, like scratch cards and soccer games, to add some variety to the action - and we haven't even mentioned the musical stages yet. Pummeling wild hordes of enemies to the tune of "Black Betty"? Yes, please.
1 Rayman 2: The Great Escape (1999)
Rayman 2 is remarkable because it has been ported countless times and is practically available on every imaginable system. It's highly likely that you have either played this game, seen it advertised at some point, or at least own a console on which you can play it. From the PlayStation 1 and 2 to the Nintendo 64, DS, and 3DS, it has been present everywhere. It is also remarkable because it is simply fantastic.
A rare case of a superior sequel, Rayman 2 has everything you can expect from a platformer. When Admiral Razorbeard, the leader of the Robo-Pirate clan (naturally), attacks, it's up to Rayman and his friends to set things right. You will do this by hopping through a series of iconic locations, collecting Lums, and acquiring new abilities to gain access to different parts of the map.
Stage gimmicks like throwable TNT barrels keep things fresh, and the storyline is surprisingly intense. Unlike the too-cool-for-school Rayman 3, this story takes itself seriously, and when Rayman emerges victorious after the final battle, it feels well-earned. What a classic and a sure winner for the top spot.