This is a guest review from the talented Moz, if she does a few more of these I might be tempted to give her a permenant spot on the team. *GRIN*
On with the review.
Despite having 15+ years avid gaming experience (one day I really must get a life..!) and owning various types of console, I have never previously played on the Nintendo Gamecube. My preferred genre of game would be survival horror, Silent Hill, Resident Evil with maybe a little bit of Tomb Raider thrown in . This makes me the perfect gamer to review the rather cute and cuddly Rayman 3 - Hoodlum Havoc for the Gamecube and Game Boy Advance..!!
For those that have already had previous experience of Rayman 1 and 2 I am sure that the game needs little or no introduction as you already know what to expect. However for those of us who have sadly not had this privilege the story goes something like this......
In the game you play as Rayman (our hero) who is a kind of dog-like character with head, hands and feet but no visible arms or legs. In fact at the beginning of the game he doesn't even have hands, which would be a bit of a disadvantage for a superhero I would have thought! However all will be revealed..!. It appears that Rayman's best friend, Globox (a rather large and dim witted giant frog), during the course of a fight shown in the title screen, has swallowed the bad guy Andre, who is the chief of the black lums. Andre however has survived being swallowed and is alive and well and living in Globox stomach. During the course of the game Andre makes Globox drink plumb juice which unfortunately Globox is allergic to. This makes Globox understandably sick and it's down to Rayman to get him to a doctor before something terrible happens. Not only do the intrepid duo have to find a doctor with enough know how to treat the sickening amphibian, but they also have to fight off Andre's pursuing army, the Hoodlums, (a kind of potato sack armed with a gun), who want their boss back.
Rayman, being slightly lacking on the digit side of things, could do with a hand to fight off the Hoodlums (two hands in fact would be nice!). At the end of the first level of the game, which also serves as a training ground, Rayman does get his fists back, which does make life easier for the little fellow and for us. It seems that Rayman has a very unusual ability (No, not that kind of unusual!!) in the fact that he can launch his fists to attack his enemies.
It also appears that Hoodlums which have a "$" above their heads, have boxes of laser washing powder secreted about their person, which turns their clothing into various types of battle dress (I know.., don't ask!). By beating these particular Hoodlums, the boxes of washing powder are left behind and become accessible to Rayman. By coming into contact with these boxes, Rayman gains superpowers, which either increases the power in his fists or transforms them into various weapons, such as electrifying grapple hooks or torpedoes. This means that Rayman can beat opponents with a single blow, knock down doors, shoot targets and gain access to previously inaccessible areas by swinging across ravines with his grapple hooks (a talent, I think you would agree, worthy of acknowledgement!). These abilities however only last for about 20 seconds before they run out. The length of time available is shown on a gauge which appears at the bottom of the screen. When the time runs out Rayman returns to normal, however there is no limit to the amount of times that you can charge up by touching the powder, which means that you can run around attacking anything that looks like it could be useful. Some of the doors that give you access to other areas can be quite a way away from the boxes of powder so basically charge up and run, and hopefully you will get there before you have run out of superpower.
Needless to say, as the game progresses the levels become gradually more difficult and frustrating. (How many times have I charged up, dashed and grappled my way to a distant locked door, only to run out of superpower just as I get there!!) The levels take you to a multitude of bizarre worlds and landscapes andat the end of every level there is also the obligatory Boss to fight before you can progress. These Boss fights are in fact little mini games in themselves and vary slightly on the format of the main game, which makes the game lot more enjoyable, and gives you a break from the main charge up and run game. I am not going to explain the main game any further, enough is to say that the game play is pretty much the same in all the levels only increasingly more difficult.
However Rayman 3 has more to offer than jus the main game. Scattered throughout the game on every level are a number of golden jewels that you can collect. These are not strictly an essential part of the game and can be ignored, however by collecting these jewels you gain points. When you have a certain number of points you can unlock bonus games or unseen videos which are accessible from the load screen at the beginning of the game. Whenever you win points "combo mode" appears at the top of your screen. The faster you collect the jewels when in combo mode the higher in value of the jewel. Also if you are charged up with a superpower all points picked up are doubled.
The are many was of increasing your points such as taking photographs of little blue chameleons that are hidden throughout the game, and who call to you when you are near them. Also the Hodlums have captured "teensies" in cages ( I have no idea what a teesie is or looks like, a you never really get to see them, I can only imagine they have spawned from previous Rayman titles.) and have and have hidden them throughout the levels, release them and you can increase your life bar.
The controls of Rayman 3 are uncomplicated and self explanatory. Information about the controls appears on the screen whenever a new move or explanation of a new weapon is required, and hints are given on how to gain access to certain inaccessible areas or how to defeat bosses.
The graphics of the game are in my opinion a little flat and disappointing. The environments have nothing of the feel, depth, richness of colour or variety of say Jak and Daxter or Ratchet and Clank on the PS2. Also some of the camera angles are very frustrating, quite often when the camera positions itself behind Rayman the view is obscured by trees or buildings making attacking enemies difficult as you can't see where you are aiming.
This sounds as if I actually didn't like the game which is untrue. If Rayman 3 was solely centred on the main game ie beating hoodlums, battling bosses, opening doors etc I think that I would have I found it to be repetitive and would have quickly got bored with it. However the sub games and little diversions that are thrown in breaks the game up and makes it both enjoyable and interesting to play. It's the kind of game that you can pick up and intend to play for a few minutes before going to bed and before you know it you've become absorbed, hours have passed, and the milkman is telling you to get your grappling hooks out an traverse that ravine (or maybe that's just the milkmen that are near me...).
Although I still prefer the genre of survival horror, I did enjoy Rayman 3 Hoodlum Havoc.
Thanks Moz, oh and for all you GC and GBA owners of the game, Rayman 3 has some pretty special connectivity. So I've put this in direct from our sources to whet your appetite. I haven't seen this active myself but other staff have so I can say it works a treat.
"There are also some important facts about Rayman on the Nintendo platforms that I want to make sure you know about.
Rayman 3 Hoodlum Havoc contains the best connectivity seen to date on the Cube and GBA!
Using the GC and a GBA console play a multiplayer Tetris-style racing game
Requires: R3GC Rom + 2 GC pads + 2GBAs ( 2 or 4 players) and save games
Note: This game does NOT require the Rayman 3 GBA cartridge.
2/ Download 10 new maps to your GBA from the GC.
-Requires: R3GC & R3GBA cartridge + lums collected by playing on R3GBA
-3/ Download the final boss level to your GBA from the GC
-Requires: R3GC & R3GBA cartridge + finishing the R3GC game"
So there you have it, thanks to Moz again.