With his goofy haircut, non-existent limbs and a nose that threatens to eclipse the remainder of his face, Rayman's popularity is pretty surprising. After being sidelined in favour of screaming leporids for the last few years, the Glade of Dream's number one hero burst back in vogue after the exceptional Rayman Origins. Taking advantage of his purple patch, Ubisoft has re-released Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc as Rayman 3 HD.
Rayman 3 HD features your standard world domination plot. Rayman's got to stop evil black lum André from storming the planet with his army of hoodlums in a campaign that's filled with off-the-wall attempts at humour that, though not always entertaining, lend it its own distinct identity. The fourth wall is kicked down several times within the introductory levels.
You jump lots, use your magical floating hands to punch the jaws of enemies, break your friends out of hanging cages and do battle with bosses. Successful strikes add points to a meter that shows you just how well you're doing — plus the whole of internet land, thanks to online leaderboards. Your released buddies happily litter the ground with power-ups — such as grappling hooks, helicopter hats and metallic mega-fists — that allow you to reach the unreachable and smash open new routes.
It's a testament to the art direction that, nine years after its original release, Rayman 3 looks great in its new high definition guise despite few-to-no upgrades to its polygon count. Ubisoft has upscaled the resolution and changed little else, but it still holds up in 2012 thanks to its colourful, cartoonish appearance and creativity.
Within the first few worlds alone swamps mix with castles, crystalline towers formed from cylindrical star fields and missile-spitting underwater juggernauts stand in your way; thematically there isn't too much opportunity to get bored, as Rayman 3 HD's settings switch about regularly. The unhinged atmosphere is certainly taken advantage of: an early boss fight has you shrinking to do battle, bumper car-style, with your own shoe as you drive the other half of the pair. Psychedelic hoverboard tunnels, in which you must hop between platforms as Rayman skids into the screen with reckless abandon, serve as exhilarating transitions between worlds.
It's still fun, just as it was back in the lofty days of PlayStation 2, but with nearly a decade to refine 3D gaming since its original release it's painfully easy to note Rayman 3 HD's shortcomings. Imaginative though it is, it's seen through the unwieldy lens of a camera still lodged in the early 2000s; lumbered by a viewfinder that works itself into uneasy, interfering position, it requires constant intervention via the right analogue stick.
Checkpoints leave something to be desired, lobbing you back to the start of stages should you die – though mercifully not during the rainbow railway levels between worlds, which are segmented appropriately. Repetitious sound effects cause needless irritation, your imprisoned friends continually calling out for help in nasally voices every few seconds. If you can't find the responsible cage immediately, good luck to you. Something less crucial is the disappointing lack of ceremony at the end of each stage; often you'll wander into a tunnel that snatches control from you before showing your ranking with no warning whatsoever, no joyful displays to signify your progression. It feels a bit flat.
What should be celebrated is the brilliant music that accompanies the adventure, particularly in the world-bridging hoverboard levels, where high pitched vocals mix with disco funk. Elsewhere there are menacing tribal stomps, beats that sound halfway out of a late-90s OutKast album and slower, xylophone-led harmonies. It's an eclectic mix that ensures your ears never switch off – unless you're near one of those whinging cages.
A selection of arcade mini-games are also available to mess with if you get bored of the main adventure, including a nifty return to Rayman's original 2D form, a slightly shaky version of tennis and a first person target shooter. They're not all great, and are unlikely to hold your attention for too long, but they're nice as extras. As is the gorgeous Rayman Origins concept artwork gallery.
It's a shame that Rayman 3 HD is little more than an upscale of its initial release; it features the same models and the same wayward camera, which reduces its appeal when compared to more modern platformers. However, it still has bags of imagination and these flaws don't entirely diminish its appeal, only dent it. Rayman 3 HD is still a great platformer – it's just one that's showing its age.