Hazy memories of being up past the 7:30 pm news and sitting in front of the family computer, playing the 1999 Ubisoft childhood classic Rayman 2: The Great Escape by looking over my older brothers shoulder or having the keyboard to myself, come to mind often.
Rayman 2: The Great Escape is undeniably the game I loved the most as a kid.
The unique 3D platforming paired with sinister undertones and quirky characters kept me engaged constantly.
Looking back on older games, it’s easy to have a rose-tinted view of the game and for nostalgia to cloud your judgment but Rayman 2 is excellent even to this day.
The story starts with Rayman trying to escape Admiral Razorbeard, the evil pirate overlord and main antagonist, who has enslaved the people of Glade of Dreams.
You play as Rayman trying to eradicate the evil that has possessed your homeland and release the clutches of the violent pirate scum.
Rayman 2 is best played by taking advantage of the smooth movement mechanics. Platforming in The Great Escape feels soo good.
Rayman has weight and is not just floating in the air.
The double jumps, strafe and swinging, feel like you are being pulled by gravity.
The variations between levels are something to behold for a game from 1999.
Between levels, you can find yourself bouncing from lily pad to lily pad, making sure you don’t get munched by piranhas; sliding down a course from the point of view of inside the mouth of a monster or swinging from purple floating interactive orbs called lums to get to hard to reach places.
Whilst bouncing or swinging your way through levels; the player is offered the opportunity to stop and admire the gloomy aesthetic of The Great Escape.
The darkness of Rayman’s fantastical landscapes and the evil presence of the pirates is felt within every frame of the game.
The murky environment is ideal for fairies; big teethed flying toads and mushrooms to litter each corner of a room.
The unique character design brings unsettling moments like in the “Cave of Bad Dreams”, where a dark hole with glowing eyes and a skinny arm reaches out to grab Rayman.
If you get caught, you witness Rayman get slowly strangled and pulled back into the dark abyss.
It’s moments like this that captured my imagination, putting me on the edge of my set as a kid.
The game’s dark tone is contrasted by the bright and quirky friends you make along the way.
Globox, your pea-brained best friend and sidekick, provides countless laughs as well as the Teensies, a group of big-snouted somethings that can’t seem to figure out who is the king among them.
It’s never a chore to sit through dialogue even though the characters in the PC edition speak gibberish.
I enjoyed all the characters you interact with so much that I saved up for Rayman M that let me play as all of them in multiplayer racing and battles.
The Rayman series has a special place in my heart, and it was Rayman 2: The Great Escape introduced me to Ubisoft’s fantastical world.