Rayman DS (DS)

Game Review

Rayman DS Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Michael Ryder

Any port in a storm?

For those of you who missed out on the PS1/N64 generation of the late 1990s, Rayman was actually quite a big deal. Viewed by many well recognized gaming institutions as one of the ‘Greatest games of all time’, Rayman 2: The Great Escape received many plaudits for its innovative level design and gameplay features. Though a good few years have passed since those heady days of the late 1990s, Rayman has now (for better or for worse) found a home on the DS, but the question must be asked: does he still cut the mustard?

As far as platformers go, the story of Rayman DS is fairly straightforward. Rayman – a strange blob with disembodied hands, feet and head – has been captured by evil robot pirates who are threatening to take over the world. At the start of the game Rayman escapes the pirates and learns in short order that he must travel through a series of different worlds to gain the four masks of Polokus and so allow Polokus to help bring an end to the pirate threat. In the course of all this, our strangely disembodied friend must also rescue his friend Globox, a friend who was instrumental in Rayman’s original escape from the pirate ship.

With us so far? Good.

As wacky as the storyline is, it doesn’t do that great a job at hiding the fact that Rayman DS follows many of the conventions of its genre - including the requirement to travel through different worlds and collect various items. You can only progress through levels once you’ve collected enough of this "stuff" and in the case of Rayman DS, the "stuff" in question takes the form of shiny floating shards of the world’s core called Lums.

For all the prevalence of generic elements in the game’s core mechanics, Rayman DS does a very good job of creating and presenting a bright, vivid and charming world that certainly has an awful lot of character about it. The graphics clearly haven’t had much adjustment since the game was originally launched back on the N64, but on the DS this doesn’t seem to matter too much. The game world is displayed in vibrant colour and can’t really be faulted for its presentation on a portable console.

However, the similarity to the N64 original is Rayman 2's biggest issue. While it was clearly an excellent game back in the day – a game full of an originality and inventiveness that seems so sorely lacking in many games nowadays - Rayman DS is pretty much a direct port. Now ports are fine from one similar console to another, but when porting a game from a console you play on your television to a console you hold in your hand – a console that has a touch screen – some additional thought is required on the part of the developers. In the case of Rayman DS, this thought seems very much lacking.

The first thing to mention is the controls. To say they’re not very good is perhaps a bit of an understatement. For one the default control - the D-pad - makes it very difficult to move diagonally. You actually have to press on the thumb pad quite hard to get any diagonal movement from your on-screen avatar. Most players will no doubt try to use the "virtual" touch screen thumb pad that the game offers as an alternative method of control. The only problem here is that it's very laggy and unresponsive without the stylus.

It is fortunate indeed that this reviewer is left-handed and as such was at something of an advantage in the playing-Rayman DS stakes as it meant control with the stylus while using the A, B and R buttons was just about manageable. How a right-handed person is supposed to play this game effectively really is a mystery. And even if you are fortunate enough to be able to control Rayman to a reasonable level, the small size of the screen and laggy controls have a tendency to make jumping challenges extremely frustrating. This is of course assuming you can even get to the jumping challenge in the first place - the inconsistent controls make performing even the most basic of actions a real struggle.

And this isn’t even to mention the awful camera angle. Forced camera perspective changes combined with sudden shifts in the control perspective mean that there are certain points where Rayman is almost guaranteed to fall off the edge of the world without some sort of prescience on the part of the player, or failing that, many retries of sections that quickly ramp up in difficulty after the first boss battle.

Perseverance here really is the key, for without it, you’d be inclined to put the game down after the first hour. If you do persevere however, the game can be rewarding. The story is well played-out and if you don’t find yourself getting too stressed with the controls you can sit back and fully appreciate the achievement that Rayman DS has made in bringing one of the old-school classics over onto the portable format. The sound is good – if limited by today’s standards – and as far as the gaming experience itself goes, there is plenty to do in terms of collecting Lums and those pesky pirate cages. Difficulty-wise the portable format does prove to be a massive limitation to the enjoyment of Rayman DS. What might normally be an average-skill difficulty on a television with a console controller soon becomes a difficult problem with the DS and its aforementioned control issues. All in all, the potential was there, but the delivery falls well short.


Rayman 2 was without doubt a great game in its day. With innovative level design and an interesting variation of challenges all set in a charming, at times quite humorous game-world, the formula is there to make a portable classic. Unfortunately, as a port from the N64, Rayman DS just doesn’t quite cut it. All the ingredients are there to make an excellent game, but it’s in the delivery that Rayman DS falls way short. At times frustrating and at others unplayable, it’s truly sad to see one of gaming’s true greats fall so low.

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User Comments (39)



pixelman said:

I've never played the Rayman games. Doesn't look like this one will get me started on them.



Sean_Aaron said:

I never played it, but I do recall it being the game that put Ubisoft on the map.



romulo said:

Rayman 2 on N64/PC/DC/PS2 is one of the best platformers of all time (the PS1 version is downsized). This DS version does not keep up with the original. It's a disaster, really. The score is perfect for it.

There is one thing that needs to be said, though. That crappy virtual stick was designed to support the "thumb strap" of the first Nintendo DS. Nintendo screw Ubisoft when the accessory was discontinued.



Corbs said:

The Dreamcast version of the game is still one of the greatest platformers out there, but this DS version was a disaster. They need to remake Rayman 2 for the current generation of consoles. Spot on review.



Wolfcoyote said:

The Playstation 2 version was the only game that I was able to afford when I purchased the console in November 2001. I remember hearing that the N64 and Dreamcast versions were the best but the PS2 version was the only way that I could enjoy it. I never knew that a stripped-down version was created for the DS, but from your review it was one of the unfortunate games that supported the thumb strap more than conventional controls. Yeah...

I have to admit, when I saw that a review was posted here on NintendoLife I thought "Oh, awesome! Ubisoft is about to remake my favorite Rayman game for the DS". When I read the review and saw the release date my excitement turned into disgust - it's already out...and it stinks. Nothing more to see.



jorenmartijn said:

I was excited at first when | got Rayman DS, but the fact that it's a port was a real let-down. No offense to the N64/PC versions, since they're great too, but the DS isn't made to handle games with virtual analog sticks.
By the way, I don't agree with the statement that Rayman 2 is the best in the series, since I enjoyed Hoodlum Havoc a LOT more than TGE. The voice acting and humor in that game is outstanding!
Here's hoping for a Rayman 4 (you promissed us in Rayman 3, Ubisoft!), without any Rabbits, soon!



JoeDiddley said:

Another DS port of a N64 platforming classic with horrible controls? No thanks.
After Super Mario 64 DS I wont go through that again.



MetalMario said:

I loved the N64 version. Then my file got corrupted. I was hoping for a good review...maybe I'll still check into it...




I played the PS2 Rayman platform games which were excellent. Some of the best 3D platform style games out there. They even measure up to today's platformers.

I hope they come out with a new Rayman game of the Wii. Not a Rabbids one mind!



Metang said:

@Corbie: There was a Dreamcast version?! I'll be getting that then. I need more games for my DC.
@MetalMario: There was an N64 version?! Then I'd like to see it on VC.
@romulo: There was a PS2 version?! I'll be getting that too, when I get a PS3. (Unless the PS3 doesn't have backwards compatablity.)
@Joe Diddley: I agree with you wholeheartedly, SM64DS was a disaster because the controls were crappy. Yoshi moved like a fat lard.
About Rayman DS. I hated it even when it was released.



Corbs said:

Rayman 2 for the Dreamcast is one of the main reasons I keep the Dreamcast in rotation here in my game room. THE best version of Rayman 2 and one of the best DC releases of them all.



odd69 said:

I'm sure it was, but it was a great platformer regardless, smooth controls and everything. It is 5.99 on the PSN network.



Sylverstone said:

I had the game for my Original Style DS. I didn't finish it but whatever, it stunk on ice. My friend lost it and he "repaid" me it with Blades of Thunder 2, which sucks even more!



CanisWolfred said:

I love Rayman 2 to death, but even I won't get this game. I'll just stick with the PSN version with the crappy PSP controls.



mjc0961 said:

"@romulo: There was a PS2 version?! I'll be getting that too, when I get a PS3. (Unless the PS3 doesn't have backwards compatablity.)"
Nope, it doesn't in any version you can pick up on a shelf in a store. If you want a PS3 that plays PS2 games, go check out eBay or similar sites and see what you can find.

"@odd69: Wasn't the PS1 version downsized?"
It was. I recall my brother looking around for the last 200 Lums on the PS1 version for a few days before I finally looked online and saw that they weren't actually in there.

As for this DS version... No thanks. I'll stick to the PS2 version we eventually picked up. Although two thumbs down for the name goof: "Rayman DS" implies it would be the first Rayman, not second. And this thought brings me to remember the awesome "stick your tongue out at enemies" button in Rayman 1. I think I need to find myself a new avatar...



FATEM said:

The only problems I had with it was moving diagonally,it glitched really bad in some places and there was no 1000th lum anywhere in the game.



MJRyder said:

As far as I can recall in one of the cut scenes Admiral Razorbeard eats the 1000th lum and the total lum count drops to 999.

Does anyone know why there were only 800 lums in the ps1 version?



romulo said:

@Metang (comments 12, 15):

Yes, there is a PS2 version. It'scalled Rayman 2: Revolution (Rayman Revolution in UK). Just remember the current PS3 model does not have PS2 compatibility.

The PS1 version has downsized graphics and levels but, on the other hand, has real voice acting. It's not a bad game, but the other versions are much better. Excluding the DS version, of course...



Ricardo91 said:

So the PS1 version was downsized? Hmm, no wonder it was always so cheap...

Even with the PS1 version's restrictions, Rayman 2 was and still is one of the greatest 3D platformers ever made. Shame this version butchered it so.



Kafei2006 said:

I still own my N64 cartridge of this game, and i'm never selling it. It remains one of my favorite games on it, especially with the expansion pak support for the high res mode. I managed to collect the 1001 lums .

As far as N64 to DS ports go, i enjoyed Ridge Racer DS, even though it can never compare to the original N64 version IMO. but the controls were ok (i didn't play too much with the analog stick on the 64 version anyway). The only problem i had with the DS version was the graphics. They're ugly on the DS .



Useless_Account said:

I had this port for a while because I thought it was deifferent from the 2nd one, but ya you know what happend... I didn't think it has that bad, just the controls were a little worse and there was more glitches but it was all good.



Omega said:

I can not confirm what is written in the review. Rayman DS is a extremely good game imho. The only drawback for me was, that I wasn't able to beat the final boss. But that might be due to my (nonexistent) skills in dealing with flying rockets. Otherwise I have nothing to complain about the game. The controls with the D-Pad worked fine for me.



Colors said:

The 3DS version better be better. heh heh. better be better.better be better.better be better.better be better.better be better.better be better.better be better.better be better.better be better.better be better.better be better. it sounds funny.



TromaDogg said:

Funnily enough, this (along with Super Mario 64 DS and some other DS games like Okamiden) is much more playable on the 3DS thanks to being able to play it with the 3DS's Circle Pad. But then again, 3DS has it's own port of Rayman 2 anyway (Rayman 3D) which looks and sounds better, making this original DS port pretty much redundant now. Even back in the day with the thumb strap it wasn't easy to control at all on an original DS...bad idea, Ubisoft.



James said:

No such thing as an incorrect review my friend, reviews are just opinions at the end of the day



Laethnes said:

From my experience: Rayman DS and Rayman 2 on PC are exactly same games except different resolutions (of course :3), DS does not use texture filtering (so PC looks little better) and textures has smaller resolution, a very few things has less polygons (I noticed only Raymans hands), different music (DS is bad) and DS has really, really bad controlling. The last thing makes DS version from 8/10 to 4/10 score. Anyway, I tried 3DS version (one friend of mine borrowed it to me for a few minutes) and except overworld, it's same as PC version (excluding resolution :3) including excellent controlling and music. Only problem was that sometimes (rarely!) fps went down and that I couldn't find how to rotate with Rayman flying on rocket (shell) (which makes last level and last boss little harder) (I mean - rotate without changing direction of flying, on PC version it's with CTRL and left/right arrows).



Mr-X9000 said:

@romulo the PS1 version is downsized? no no no no no, a disc game cant be downsised from an N64 cart, just doesn't make sense



romulo said:

@Mr-X9000 Graphically, it is. It uses half the resolution of the N64 version, has slowdowns and so on. But the audio is better.

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