Polished graphics, better audio and maybe some added content all with a lower price point than the games' originally sold for a few years ago. For those getting games on their re-release wish list and the publishers, it's win win.
I can't remember having Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc on my list - it's the series most anonymous chapter.
Even in its original release back in 2003 it was somewhat of a detour. The cozy ambience, play-friendly world and colourful style typical of the series nose-dived into a heavy dose of attitude, combo systems and strange super powers. Someone had obviously thought that Rayman had needed a strong update to keep up with changing times, and, as then, it is a decision that seems misguided.
One can see "attitude" within the first minutes of play, as Rayman and his friends now tout human voice overs. Ubisoft did find good voice actors to represent the characters, but they can't rescue themselves or the game from badly written dialogue - which is evident throughout the game.
A good example is Rayman's friend Murfy, best described as a living encyclopedia with a body like a flying frog. He is obviously a kind of guide for new players, but the developer has been so busy trying to make him funny he's instead a torment to listen to. Not much better is Rayman himself, sapping the image of the charming adventurer through chatter.
However, it's not only the dialogue that you feel the mentality of that time changing, but the colourful worlds filled with waterfalls and sunshine give way for dark underground caves.
Normally we know Rayman as a platformer with a modest range of tricks, but in Hoodlum those moves are expanded with a pair of energy cans, each containing different power-ups. Whether it's throwing small tornadoes, making use of a pair of metallic boxing gloves, swinging loose via a pair of iron chains, steering rockets or use a helicopter to fly around, they must all be used to solve puzzles and deal with a number of situations.
It is telling that Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc works best when it ops for a convincing imitation of the previous Rayman games, and there is a really solid platformer hidden beneath the rag tag change of direction.
The HD update doesn't add to the experience. Although the graphics are obviously sharper and the moves smoother than ever before, the visuals still look outdated. The new mini-games feel little more than an afterthought, and hold your attention for about as long.
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc HD is not a poor experience because Ubisoft has botched the HD update, but because the original game simply is one of the series' weakest moments. Far more obvious when compared to Rayman Origins wherein the gang are on top form.
It is almost impossible not to notice the similarities between Hoodlum Havoc and Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. In Prince of Persia, developer eradicated the original style in favor of rock music, dark worlds and plenty of attitude and combat. Both games were developed by Ubisoft with only one year apart, and although Rayman's adventure isn't quite as dark as that sequel, there are better digital platformers for your cash.
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