When people think of Rayman as a series, their thoughts usually go back to the original PlayStation titles, the PlayStation 2 trilogy of Revolution, Arena and Hoodlum Havoc, the Rabbids games, or the more recent Origins and Legends. There’s 1 Rayman title that is often forgotten about, and unlike many handheld spinoffs that are brushed under the rug, this was a full title released on the PlayStation 1. Was Rayman Rush forgotten for a reason? Or is it a hidden gem for Ubisoft’s hit franchise? Let’s find out.
Despite being a spin-off and not a numbered title, this is a Rayman game through and through. Like any Rayman game, the graphics are superb for the console it’s on. The game uses the Rayman 2 engine, which isn’t a bad thing by any stretch. The game is superbly animated, with Rayman and his friends having charming little quirks in their animation, something no game should be without. The art varies from level to level as well, with each level being taken from or inspired by levels in Rayman 2. Because of this, no level looks the same, and the variety helps keep things fresh throughout the game.
One thing that impressed me about Rayman 2 and therefore Rayman Rush, is that it has very little of the texture warping that haunted 3D PlayStation 1 games back in the day, so not only does the game still look appealing, but it’s also technically impressive for its time as well.
There isn’t one. Seriously, I looked. The basic premise is that Rayman and Co are in a racing competition, but that’s about it. While the first 2 Rayman games didn’t have the best story known to man, they were enjoyable tales of taking down the likes of Mr Dark and Razorbeard. To have the next Rayman title on the same console have no story whatsoever is certainly jarring.
It’s when you get to the gameplay where you realise why the game might have been forgotten by so many, but in a twist, it’s not because the gameplay is bad. Instead, it appears that this game is a demake of Rayman M/Arena for the PlayStation 2. More specifically, it appears that Rayman Rush is the racing portion of Arena copied almost wholesale into the Rayman 2 engine. There is some form of exclusive content here, with the Teensies being replaced by a new character: Globette, who seems to be a recolour of the fan-favourite Globox. The character is nothing special, but it is something new that this game has compared to its counterpart.
Thankfully, the racing itself is solid and enjoyable. Once again thanks to sharing the Rayman 2 engine, the controls here are very smooth and easy to use. In my time playing it I felt no frustration in terms of the controls, the vast majority of the mistakes were of my own error in terms of obstacles or the opponent hitting me with an ice shot. The controls combine with well-made tracks, most of which are taken from Arena. However, some of that game’s bonus tracks have been completely remade into fully fledged stages, which is a nice touch. Each track is different in terms of both graphical style and how they play. While all of them are your basic racing fare, they all have vastly different layouts and obstacles to avoid, so each race has their own experience, and each of them are solid inclusions in the game.
While the content here is no doubt good, there just isn’t a lot of it. In the basic championship mode there are only 12 tracks, split across 3 zones. Each track does have alternate routes, and can be played in 4 different ways, (time trial, race, lum collection and target shooting) but there’s only so many times you can play through a track before getting sick of it. It would have been better if it had a few more exclusive tracks to help it stand out somewhat from Arena.
The sound here is good, just like any other Rayman title. A lot of the sound effects and music are taken straight from Rayman 2 or Rayman Arena, and are definitely solid and enjoyable in their own right. Once again it’s a shame that Rayman Rush lacks music or sound to call its own to help it stand out, but at least what’s here is good to listen to and fit the world of Rayman perfectly.
Rayman Rush is a solid PlayStation 1 game and deserves the Rayman name. It controls well, looks amazing for the console it’s on, sounds great and has great tracks. However, it’s not hard to see why the game has been forgotten. The game is essentially just a demake of Rayman Arena, clearly intended to keep fans of Rayman who hadn’t upgraded to the PlayStation 2 happy. In that respect, it did its job incredibly well. However, for a casual fan looking for a multiplayer Rayman game, you’d more than likely go for Arena instead. Since this game has very little exclusive besides a new character and a few remade tracks, there’s nothing here that really helped it stand out when it was released. It is a solid and enjoyable game by all means, but lacks that something special to prevent it from falling into obscurity.