Monday, September 27, 2010

A Look to the Past: Games of the Years 2000 - Rayman 2: The Great Escape


Rayman 2: The Great Escape (Dreamcast)

Okay, obligatory confession of not having played important games: both Chrono Cross and The Sims escaped my grasp. But that's all right, because Rayman 2 was a phenomenal game anyway! We find ourselves in  the year 2000, with a brand new millennium just waiting for some rad games to be released. When it came to the best game of 2000, I debated back and forth with myself between The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and Rayman 2: The Great Escape. As you already know (if you read this year's title and even glanced at that large image above), I picked Rayman 2; and just by the slightest margins. Majora's Mask was a brilliant twist to a familiar series, but had its flaws, ultimately failing to stack up against its predecessor. Rayman 2, on the other hand, suffered from a microscopic amount of faults. It creamed the original Rayman in almost every way, hurling the limbless hero into a new world and far surpassing the genre's standards. From start to finish, Rayman 2 was a smooth platforming adventure that never hits a dry spot. The 3D platformer wasn't exactly a new concept, but this game was handled with such grace, everything felt fresh. There were two things that really stood out: the way Rayman moved and the magical yet funky setting. I have no idea what Rayman is, but he has a bunch of weird abilities. He could hover through the air by twirling his hair, swing on fairy-like Lums with his unattached hands, and throw balls of light at will. All of these maneuvers flowed one after the other effortlessly, requiring skill without ever coming to a jarring halt. There were moments of sheer frustration in Rayman 2, but rarely did they feel unwarranted or cheap. As far as platformers go, it doesn't get much better than this.

Even Rayman wants to stop and stare at the scenery.

The Glade of Dreams was a bizarre place filled with strange denizens and metallic pirates that all spoke in some kind of forgotten form of Simlish. Textures featured swirly designs and a distinct color pallete and the mystical forest was overgrown with weird plant life. There were treacherous underground lava channels, rocky bays with pirate ships docked inside, creepy nightmare lands adorned with grasping, bony hands that grabbed at Rayman at any given chance... all manner of creative places. The music style carried on the tradition of oddness with a groovy soundtrack that used tribal drums, electric guitars, tense strings, rad basses, strong pianos, and a bunch of other instruments, all combining to create a totally unique sound. The game's universe was weird and seemingly random, but the pieces fell together and make a cohesive picture that leaves one wanting more. It's so darn easy to enjoy Rayman 2, you can't help but to enjoy yourself immensely. All that and Rayman has NO ARMS OR LEGS. That's the mark of a Game of the Year.

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