Everybody loves Rayman.

How many times have you heard that one? Never? Well then you must be a new member because I've seen some of the other CCCP staff writers use it on a few occasions - or should I say steal? Oh well, I guess if everyone was creative they'd be writing for the Simpsons - or Hoyst Gnip.

Rayman: Hoodlum's Revenge is the sequel to Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc. Not content to rest on its laurels this sequel actually brings something different to the party. Instead of a side-scrolling platformer the view is isometric which changes the gameplay considerably. There are a few inherent problems with the top-down view, the most significant being the difficulty in judging perspectives which is essential for platforming. Fortunately platforming doesn't play as big a role in this game as it did previously. There are puzzles and fighting to pick up the slack.

Rayman can't compare to the console version and that can be frustrating since so many of his moves can't be replicated properly, if at all, on the GBA. You won't be able to swing and there are no trampolines to jump on which is probably a good thing since it's hard to judge heights with such a view.

That lovable oaf, Globox, has swallowed the evil lum again and it's taking control of his body unleashing monsters and locking up the teensies. Rayman gets word that his pal is in trouble and sets out to help him and free the teensies that look after the enchanted forest. Rayman is capable of walking, jumping, climbing and fighting. His hands are not connected to his body with arms, nor are his feet as he has no legs or arms. These disembodied hands can be extended to reach out and punch enemies from a safe distance.

Enemies attack with blades and grenades. They aren't as much of a threat as falling off a platform into the water. There are plenty of health items scattered throughout the level but they're difficult to get at when you fall into the water as it depletes your reserves at an accelerated rate. If you fall into the water you've got to find a way out fast. Fortunately there are unlimited continues which will start you back at the last checkpoint.

During some levels you will be required to play as Globox. He's not as dexterous as Rayman but he's got weight on his side. He can be used to trigger some switches with his tremendous weight alone. Although he's a relative shy character that wouldn't normally hurt a fly he can be encouraged to beat the crap of an enemy by getting him drunk on grape juice. Globox doesn't take any damage so you can move him around like a tank. Alternating between the two characters is important to all gameplay elements - and it's also a lot of fun.

Using the isometric view takes us one step closer to Rayman's funky 3D console world but it lacks the detail and interaction. Graphically it's difficult to say if this world looks better than the side-scrolling version but the point is, it's different. The colorful cartoonish look of this strange universe has been captured quite well but due to the top down view we don't really feel as though we are part of the environment. You've got to be at ground level to experience that.

Playing this game for the first time I'm sure you would agree that it's lighthearted. Without the voiceovers and all of the cutscenes most of the humor that really endears us to the characters is not missing so much as it's lacking. The text can only convey the essence of the comical interaction among characters. The music does a good job in letting us know that things shouldn't be taken so seriously and that eyebrow-raising stupidity is the norm in this game. I really miss the voiceovers.

Hoodlums' Revenge takes the series in a new direction and while it's not exactly perfect steps have been taken to compensate for some of its shortcomings. Props to Ubisoft for taking a chance. Lets hope the next version pays off huge dividends for all of us.

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System: GBA
Dev: Ubi Soft
Pub: Ubi Soft
Release: March 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole