—by Nathan on December 17, 2011—

I feel kinda ashamed right now. I've been blogging for, what, three years now, and I don't have a blog about possibly the greatest video game hero who has ever lived (at least, he's my personal favorite). I think I mentioned him before, but I've never dedicated an entire blog to him. For shame, me. Well, no putting it off any longer. The Limbless Wonder (really, he has no extremities; the guy's arms, body, and head are defying gravity by their own power, or by magic) is finally going to get the blog he deserves. Sound the horns, blow the trumpets. Rayman's in the house. Okay, this guy's has been in a bunch of games, and I wanna touch on each of the ones I have. Made by Ubisoft (who also did the Dogs games and the Assassin's Creed games, two series which really don't belong in the same sentence together), Rayman is a hero thrust into danger due to the machinations of powerful enemies who would like nothing more than total world domination (cause that's what, like, nearly every other supervillain goes after). With his power fists and allies, Rayman takes on many enemies in his games, always ready to dive into trouble...or, at the least, forced to do so because the stubborn gamer makes him. You're welcome, Ray. However, not every game is an adventure, and not every one is even about him. Let's dive into the Rayman series headfirst, just like Rayman himself would.

Rayman 2: The Great Escape: No, I have not made a mathematical error. I just don't have the first Rayman game. I think I did at one point, but I don't any longer. All I know is that it was a side-scrolling platform, kinda like the Mario games. Anway, that's not the point. I came to know Rayman through a dare...or maybe it was blackmail. We're going back a long, long time ago and to a galaxy far, far away. Okay, we're in Arkansas, which isn't as far as Tatooine or Hoth, but it was quite a few years ago. My family and cousins were at Silver Dollar City, an amusement park. I can't recall exactly what my dad said, but he wanted me to go on this water ride. I had just had a bad experience with two roller coasters, and I didn't want to. I believe he told me he had something for me when we got back home. I can't remember if he said it was a video game, but I was the kind of kid attracted to NEW TOYS! So I went. Upon our return to Bears country (a Star Wars reference AND a football reference; I'm on a roll!), Rayman 2 was what I received. Here's the story: An evil robot pirate by the name of Razorbeard wants to take over the world (duh). He's captured a whole bunch of creatures for slaves, including a bunch of Lums (more on those later). Rayman is one such prisoner, but he escapes. He encounters the fairy Ly, who gives him his energy powers and the mission of locating the four masks of the god Polokus, who I think is asleep. If Ray can find all four masks, Poloky can destroy the robo-pirates, Razy's henchman (kay, too many nicknames). Along the way, Rayman fights robo-pirates and runs into friends, both old and new, including the lovable but bumbling Globox, the colossal but clumsy Clark, and the tiny but ego-centric Teensies. Exploring vast worlds, Rayman tries his hardest to locate the masks. If he can, great. But even then he may fall to the hand of Razorbeard. The funny thing about this game is that, first time through, my dad beat pratically all the levels. Hey, I was young and inexperienced. But that isn't what's funny. He got all the way to final boss level...and I beat it for him. Nyah. Move over, pro. Emerging star on the rise.

Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havok: Carrying a much more original name than its predecessor (though the last game does share the same title with a great war movie), the third Rayman game remains, to this day, one of my favorite games of all time and one of the greatest adventure games I have ever played. Remember my mention of Lums in the last game? While they play a role in the last game, that role is intensified in this one. Lums are usually good guys and can even help Rayman heal himself, give extra life and power, and help him get to hard to reach places. However, Lums, when scared, turn into Black Lums. Well, that's how the story begins. A Lum gets transformed into the Black Lum Andre, who makes it his mission to corrupt the Heart of the World (domination again). He turns a whole bunch of other Lums into Black ones. Also, to make bad new worse, when a swarm of Black Lums get together, they form a Hoodlum, a scarecrow type enemy who uses a gun. While chasing Andre, Rayman witnesses Globox swallow the Dark Lum Lord. Oops. Now, Rayman has to travel all over the land, trying to disgorge Andre from Globox's stomach, all the while trying to keep Hoodlums from capturing his friend. But even if he is able to get Andre out of Globox, what then? The threat of the Dark Lum still exists, and he may once again try to conquer the world. As said, before, this game is a great adventure. It's full of humor, action, and awesome gadgets that give Rayman new costumes and powers (such as a rocket launcher or fists that extend far with spikes on the end). Plus, whereas the Great Escape, had dialogue through subtitles, this one comes with voice-acting, including John Leguizamo (Sid the Slouth from the Ice Age movies) as Globox! With a captivating storyline, amazing dialogue, witty humor, and action to the max, Hoodlum Havok reaches a standard that, I find, few adventures reach these days. Sadly, there was some trouble with certain files later on, and the game no longer worked. I have tried numerous times to reinstall it, but no dice.

Rayman Arena: Before the highly-popular and epic Super Smash Brothers Brawl (yet another favorite game of mine) was released, there was Rayman Arena. This game came out before Hoodlum Havok, but after the Great Escape. Again, this game has risen to a height of awesomeness few games reach. And, yes, it rivals Brawl. No storyline here; just round after round of slamming friends around or racing them around the track. Monotonous? Heck, no. Basically, you pick your character and go to work. You can have team fights or solo fights. You can race each other or against the clock. Various weapons allow you different options of how to pick off your enemies. Characters include Rayman, Globox, Razorbeard (my personal favorite), a robo-pirate, two Teensies, Mrs. Razorbeard (who's much scarier than her husband), a fairy name Tilly, and a robo-pirate 2.0. As a solo player, you can unlock costumes for characters and different stages by competing in races and earning achievements. A great multiplayer game my dad, younger sister, and I enjoyed immensely for many years. This game still works, I'm sure, but it is currently off the computer. Use in the computer for gaming can be lax due to a Wii, but there may come a day when I can convince my dad to put it back on...if it still works.

Rayman Raving Rabbids: Welcome to madness. The release of Raving Rabbids started up a series of games, which quickly focused the attention upon the villains instead of Rayman. Is there a problem with that? No way! Rayman is awesome, but the Rabbids are pure amazing. Though technically considered a party game, Raving Rabbids does have a storyline. While on a picnic with some of the Globox's kids (lovingly referred to as "Baby Globoxes"), Rayman is ambushed by a bunch of...bunnies? The kids are kidnapped, and Ray himself is caught by a Hulk of a bunny with red eyes. Taken to an Roman-style arena, Rayman become a gladiator of sorts. Every day, he has to compete in and win a certain number of minigames. At the end of each day, he's hauled back to his cell, which gets more and more decorated as he becomes a bigger hit with the Rabbids. At first, the Rabbids scream and yell, much like a Roman audience demanding blood. Eventually, they get bored...until they see what kind of champion Rayman is. Every so often, Rayman has to compete in Rabbid Hunts, which puts the gamer in a first-person shooter-style area and forces Rayman to shoot Rabbids with (what else?) toliet plungers. Real mature, I know, but what the heck? Of course, Rayman can't stay there forever. These Rabbids want more than just him (lemme guess: world domination, maybe?), So he has to find a way out of his cell, a way to get free, so he can bring a stop to whatever evil scheme the Rabbids may be cooking up. This game is fun due to the story and the humor, but it's also a great party game to play with others.

Rayman Raving Rabbids 2: This was the reason I originally wanted a Wii. Every other Rayman game I own is for computer. Not so with this one. Raving Rabbids 2 came out for Wii, and I was at first upset...until we got a Wii for Christmas. Problem solved. A few days later, my sister and I bought the game. Again, this is a party game, with a subtle story behind it which really has no affect on the gameplay. An opening sequence shows giant yellow submarines (nothing to do with the Beatles song, I am sure) floating in the skies above various nations of the planet Earth. Huh? From what I know, Rayman exists on a different planet, maybe even in a different universe. The game offers no explanation to how the Rabbids got here, which is a mystery I'll probably wonder for the rest of my days. Rayman makes up his mind to stop, and sneaks into a shopping-mall base, disguised as a Rabbid. The bunnies are stupid enough to not see through his masquerade...typical. That's pretty much it. The rest of the game is full of minigames where players contend against each other. All you gotta do is select a character, a continent, a game, and you're set. There's all sorts of games, such as races, musical Guitar Hero-type games, and some just plain silly games. It's a fun game for co-op, and players can unlock more games as they go on. While I like other multiplayer games better, Raving Rabbids 2 is a good sequel.

Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party: Yeah, there's another one. And there's one more after this, so just hold on. There's a storyline in this game, and the gameplay has a slightly bigger effect on it. The game focuses on Rayman being chased by a bunch of Rabbids, all screaming and angry (maybe he stopped their world-domination plans or something). An errant bolt of lighting strikes the group and also hits Rayman's TV antena (who says lighting never strikes twice?). Somehow, defying all logic, the Rabbids are now in Rayman's TV and have total control of every channel, transforming everything from news to wrestling shows into a depraved version of Rabbid television. What's worse is that Rayman can't turn it off. This is where gamers come in. There are seven days, and gamers have to complete the number of minigames required to go onto the next. However, they have choices of which games to play. Say Monday requires the player to beat one minigame. Well, the choices could be a go-kart race, a space-surfing game, or a dress-up fashion show. If you beat that, you advance onto the next day, each new day requiring more games to complete than the last. Every day you win, a story sequence shows Rayman doing something to the TV to crack it. Each day, the crack gets bigger. If players can help Rayman destroy the TV, it's bye-bye Rabbids (and bye-bye NBA, Good Morning America, CSI: Miami, and Bob Costas). But there's more than just the story. Again, being a party game, multiple players can pit their skills against one another in various minigames. Another installment of mayhem that is a bunch of fun to play.

Rabbids Go Home: Last one, I promise you. And look at the difference in the title. No "Rayman" anywhere. He doesn't even appear in the game! The Rabbids have finally bumped him out and have been awarded their own game. Duh-duh-duh-duh. And where the previous two games were party games, this one is an adventure. Evidentally, Rayman managed to stop all plans of world domination, because the Rabbids just want to go home...which is the moon for some reason (again, Ubisoft fails to explain how the world-dominating was ended, but that's just another hole I can always fill with my imagination). Unlike E.T., they can't just phone home. So they come up with the scheme of making a tower of trash to the moon. In order to do that, they steal pratically everything. Gamers control two Rabbids using a shopping cart (one player steers, the other can launch screams which scare people and destroy things). The object of the game is to get "stuff" for the tower. The players navigate their way through a whole bunch of crazy levels, which include an airport, a hospital, and a farm, with some settings appearing more than once. The Rabbids usually have a main "stuff" object to get to (such as an airplane engine, a cow, and a sick, wheezing guy in a bubble bed who mistakes the Rabbids for his nurse...I guess he's blind, too) and pick up all sorts of items along the way. Unfortunately, they have opposition. Exterminators are after them, along with their weapons and dogs. Luckily, the exterminators couldn't kill a dust bunny, let alone a couple of real ones. People run in panic, rabbids scream, and all chaos breaks loose. Very funny game full of wit and adventure. While the Great Escape and Hoodlum Havok were better adventures, Rabbids Go Home is unique and beats the other three Rabbids games, in my opinion.

That's Rayman's world. There is a time-traveling Rabbids game, but I don't have that one. There's also another Rayman game that came out this year, but that's another side-scroller. At least it focuses on Rayman, not the Rabbids. So all I gotta do is wait for "Rayman 4." Ubisoft has released many great Rayman games. They're funny, original, and a lot of fun to play, with or without friends. I have suggested to them friends, and they have gotten some of them. I hope that, as long as I remain interested in the video game world, Rayman games will keep on coming.

—Tags: Wii Info

Also read Nathan's blogs at Geeks Under Grace.