I question why Rayman Classic [Free] had to be brought back from the depths of 1994. The proper context to play Rayman is when you have literally nothing else to play. Say, if you bought an Atari Jaguar; man cannot live on Tempest 2000 alone. And if you bought a Game Boy Advance, Rayman Advance was one of the launch titles, a welcome respite from Super Mario Advance. But the thing is that Rayman was always a frustrating and difficult game. And we live in a universe where there's limitless games, and several great games starring Rayman to play besides this. Rayman is only worth it as a history lesson.

Rayman Classic Review 2

Rayman Classic is of course a 2D platformer, a port of the original Rayman game from 1994. This appears to be a port of the PC version of the game to iOS. It stars the limbless, eponymous protagonist that has become one of Ubisoft's most iconic characters. And there is an Assassin Ray, so yes, Rayman has met Assassin's Creed. Though now I also want an Assassin's Creed game with Rayman for no particular reason other than "that seems like an idea." This is one of the first games that plunged Ubisoft and Michel Ancel into prominence thanks to its gorgeous visuals and Red Book audio that made it a fit for the CD era of gaming. It also was kind of a brutal challenge, and still is.

Levels have blind leaps of faith, difficult sections with spread-out checkpoints, and difficult boss fights to tackle with limited health, lives, and even continues. Rayman's fists are a useful weapon, and the limbless nature of the fist makes it act as a boomerang, able to hit enemies on the backswing. Yet, the game often throws small height differences to make it tough to hit certain enemies. The reasons for that amount to "screw you, player." You have health, but sections with enemies that can knock you into instadeath are frequent. And the long distances between checkpoints in levels is a severe annoyance. Plus, the levels are way too long, with many jarring contrasts between the different sections. If these sections were split into individual levels, the game would feel more fair and fun.

Rayman Classic Review 4

This is all brutal if you're playing on Normal or Hard with limited lives and continues. Easy mode is a welcome respite, offering unlimited lives and 5 health points, but it takes away any of the danger. And just trying to do relentless progress is kind of disinteresting in this game. It's the context of the game having once been about having a limited number of chances. Take that away, and you just get a frustrating game where the reward is now minimal. But that's the price you pay in order to play the game in all practicality. Rayman has not aged well with 2016 standards.

Rayman Classic Review 1

Speaking of 2016 standards, Rayman's graphics hold up pretty well, though they do look a bit aged. This game suffers from the move to high-resolution and LCD displays from low-resolution and CRT displays. CRT blurriness, tiny screens, and small resolutions gave a nice, smooth look to Rayman back in the day. In 2016, the pixels have a jagged look to them. And because the game has a higher amount of detail than 8-bit and earlier games, it looks flawed on HD LCDs instead of endearingly chunky. Smoothing filter options would have been a welcome addition to help the game look like moving painting it once resembled. So, a fantastic-looking game winds up looking old in modern times. It's not ugly, just that the wrinkles are visible. One odd thing about the mobile port at launch is that there's periods where the game will slow down to about half-speed. Sometimes dying fixes this, sometimes you have to quit the level and play it again. This game is difficult enough as it is without worrying about this bug!

One of the refrains I saw as Rayman Classic was being teased for mobile was the question of how the controls would work. Well, the virtual joystick is subobtimal compared to physical controls, but still decent. Quick and precise left/right movements are a bit tricky to pull off. And I'd rather the placement of the buttons be configurable. Having the punch button be above the jump button on the right side of the screen feels weird to me. The virtual buttons are responsive, and the controls are as good as they're going to get for a touchscreen. Rarely does it feel like it's the touch controls' fault for my failures. At least there's controller support if you want to play that way.

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Rayman does show a lot of signs of good design, though. The branching paths offer different options to play through the game. Getting abilities later in the game comes in play when you can go back to earlier levels to find secrets that were once inaccessible. The temporary abilities in some levels are fun to play with. And the later permanent abilities, especially the helicopter hair you unlock, give the game a different feel from other platformers. Part of what makes Rayman so memorable is that it had such a standout set of features for the time. It just didn't quite stick the landing of being a fun experience, even among difficult 2D platformers.

The one thing that's frustrating with Rayman is that when it goes right, it feels like a potential all-time platformer. But instead, it skews way too far to the frustrating and unfair side of the scale. And there are design elements that even challenging neo-retro platformers skew away from. I know this is a port of an existing version of the game, but I think this game could use a more comprehensive remake. I know other attempts at 2D Rayman games exist, but the potential of this game in particular would be immense if it got a tune-up for what gamers should expect from platformers in 2016 instead of 1994. Though, what you get here is a history lesson, Rayman represented as it once was.

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But that's the problem with Rayman Classic: there are other, actually good Rayman games now. The auto-runners on mobile like Rayman Fiesta Run [$2.99] are fantastic games. Sadly, Rayman 2 kind of disappeared from the App Store, and I'd love for a new version to pop up, as it's kind of a bummer that it's not available any more (though it might be a rights mess as Gameloft published the iOS port), though DRM-free versions are available on PC, so they're hardly lost. I don't know why the world needed more Rayman, but we got it, and some fun games came out of it. And maybe it's tempting to see where this all started. But unless you're curious to study this relic more than you intend to enjoy it, I'd say to pass. But if you enjoyed Rayman back in the day, this is a solid port of the game that you can take anywhere. And if your reflexes aren't what they once were 22 years ago, well, you'll praise the Easy mode as you rediscover just how brutal Rayman was.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Timmy2x

    Bummer, back to Britney Spears!

    • Themagicjesus


  • cabuckn

    Whew. Was tempted for the nostalgia. Thank you for the honest review! Now, back to Crashlands 🙂

  • Hoodin


  • Elton Bird

    Nostalgia, it ain't what it used to be.

  • curtneedsaride

    It has an Easter color palette. Maybe I'll pick it up as a way to get through the Easter season at work.

  • Jmartinez41

    Why are people passing? The game is literally how you remember it and he's just complaining about the difficulty. Aren't you the ones always complaining games are too easy?

    • Timmy2x

      My guess it's partly to do with the price, who wants to pay $5 for meh

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        This is why free to play exists.

      • Timmy2x

        True, true...I have patience though I wait for the certified gems before purchasing. It's not really about the price I just don't want to waste my time. Still can't believe how much money that big butt leaked porn hooker made on her game.

      • Timmy2x

        Deleted message again, thought we had freedom of speech

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Nobody is deleting your messages. There is one message that got caught in the spam filter, and I just approved it. Also freedom of speech does not apply to private websites on the internet, so it's not really going to help you here anyway!

      • Timmy2x

        Great good to know.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        You made a comment about a "big butt leaked porn hooker." Our spam filter is very much working as intended.

      • Timmy2x

        Thanks for reissuing what I said makes me feel better, just stating the facts but don't worry I'll keep it G rated from now on.

      • Mince0

        £3 is very much worth the nostalgia here. But I do have to confess when it comes to buying a iOS game it is always compared to the next pc game I want to buy as quality etc need to be weighed up. So I buy very little from the App Store. Love it for point and click/ RPGs though

      • Mince0

        So is this 3* review because of difficulty and the fact the game was not needed. Because I always remember Rayman as a awesome game?

        How much has this review cost sales? Due to personal issues?

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp
      • Sebastian Gomez

        Should have written her name instead, right?

      • DJEmergency

        Haha Eli your comment made me laugh! The spam filter is working great! 🙂

      • tinkie277

        Don't ever say that again! $5 is a pittance for a game which you can keep for life.

      • HarryWarden

        Or until the next iOS update breaks it and the developer doesn't bother to fix it

      • OrangutanKungfu

        Oops... And now it's suddenly gone F2P...

  • squirpe

    Probably still give this a go.

    Would be nice if they brought Rayman 2 back to the App Store, complete with the proper refinements on controls etc. played that game to completion on PC.

    • Mince0

      All I read in this review is:

      I can't do it.
      This was a unnecessary release

  • Timmy2x

    This game is fun. It's really worth your time and money. Five dollars is nothing for this. Support and enjoy.

  • Mr. Grizzly

    Can't you still download Rayman 2 if its in your purchase history?

  • http://www.googlepants.com/ Wizard of Odyssey

    I'm old, I like old games, and I really like it when they have an Easy mode with infinite lives. I have this on PSP and stuff but my iPhone is always with me. Bring on more retro ports, I say, and I'll buy them like I bought this one. It's stiff and slow but still very pretty. Just because it's old doesn't make it bad.

  • coheedrocks27

    So the game was to hard for you so it's bad...wow....this was a great challenging platformer and still deserves a play

  • Themagicjesus

    Three star review because Rayman is too hard? Have you ever played Rayman? Probably the first review I've seen that I thought was bs on here

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp
    • philsmtx

      i've started to become somewhat disgruntled about Reviews/hit-pieces on games like this. Most games from the 8-16 generation were difficult and you had to play and replay them to get through them. What'll end up happening is.. Ubisoft will stop releasing classics like rayman or rayman 2 on ios.. because it's not worth their money or time. and games like Landsliders will be game of the year...

  • vic_viper_001

    This port probably deserves less than 3 stars, because Rayman is just not the type of game you play using a touchscreen. The actual game is still a rock solid platformer so long as you can handle a mild challenge, and levels longer than your typical 30 second iOS speedrun.

  • erherringbone

    Okay, wait just a minute. This game is terrific, and for all the reasons you didn't like it! It's tough, so there's a learning curve, but that doesn't make it bad. Try Mutant Mudds for precision jumps, or Mos Speedrun. The levels are too long? What about Mario, which is a huge influence on Rayman's antics. When (please soon) Mario jumps onto the mobile, no one will talk about how long the levels are. This is the kind of game that wants an investment. It wants you to replay the levels, find the hidden spots, revel in some new discovery. Auto runners like Rayman's current iOS offerings, are a different beast altogether. This game is for slow burns. Rayman (the Original) rules, and I, for one, am happy to play in his kingdom. Well worth the price of admission.

    • philsmtx

      What he said x10. Swordigo is an incredible game... but it relied on timing and investment into it's large world and gameplay. if you want great games on ios and not crashy/flappy/hoppy rayman.. please consider it.

  • TripMX

    I played this back in the day, and I rather enjoyed the game on PC. I always liked the original classic Rayman design; the newer designs look too rambunctious.

  • metalcasket

    My post from the forums (slightly edited):

    This port is quite excellent and the game still holds up incredibly well today, boasting (still) innovative animations, interactions between characters, great exploration and gorgeous levels. It's EASILY worth $5 and I wholeheartedly recommend it...

    ...but I'm in the same boat as Carter Dotson and his 3/5 review. This
    was a totally unnecessary release. I know this is just a mobile release
    of a classic game in the same vein as DotEmu's releases and whatnot, but seriously...if you're attacking Carter's review, you've either not
    played the game recently or are wearing rose-tinted glasses. While (as I
    mentioned above) Rayman still holds up incredibly well, there's a
    reason why games like Mario and Sonic have been ported to every platform under the sun multiples times, in countless editions, while Rayman hasn't...it's frustrating as hell. Not hard. FRUSTRATING. I grew up in the golden age of video games where everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at you, but Rayman's level designs don't allow for a lot of smooth movement, the leaps of faith are annoying and worst of all; the
    enemy placement and spawning is borderline insulting. Shit like five
    enemies on foot walking toward you along with three flying enemies in
    the air...and Rayman's crawl-like pace? This isn't a bullet hell
    shooter, and if it was...it would be a terrible one. Neither Rayman's
    movement, nor his attacks lend to what's being thrown at you and the
    beautiful thing is that both Rayman Origins and Rayman Legend (which are masterful games on their own, and an INCREDIBLE evolution of a series) prove that and fix every and any faults with this original release. I'm also putting aside the mobile games because I don't think it's a fair
    comparison (auto-runners vs. full-fledged platformer).

    Cut Carter some slack guys! Yes, this is a brilliant game and a piece of
    gaming history that I (again) wholeheartedly recommend (especially at a
    measly $5), but it always had its flaws. I mean, hell...this is a quote
    from back in the day: "if you were just watching somebody else
    playing the game you could be easily fooled into thinking this was the
    best thing to appear on the Saturn for quite some time. However, in
    reality, it's a bit too dull a bit too often, and at times, it's just plain irritating and damned difficult."

    This is a port we wanted...but certainly didn't need.

  • MChiaraS1978

    Well I played Rayman on Play Station and I finished it ALL... Loved it to bits...But then you've got to be pretty agile with your fingers and your mind to be able to beat this game. Now am playing Rayman Origins and that's really quite tough. Being able to play over and over each level means that you gain in perfecting the different moves.

Rayman Classic Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 3