- This article is about the Rayman series in general. For the character, see Rayman. For the original game, see Rayman 1.
The Rayman series is an action platform video game series. The series was created by French games designer Michel Ancel, and each instalment has been developed and published by Ubisoft. The protagonist of the games is the heroic Rayman, a character destined to combat the forces of evil and preserve the equilibrium of the universe. The games take place in a fantastical world known as the Glade of Dreams, which was dreamed into existence by the god Polokus and is sustained by a mystical keystone known as the Heart of the World.
The Rayman series began in 1995 with the release of the original Rayman game, a 2D sidescrolling platformer set in a region known as the valley. This was followed in 1999 by Rayman 2: The Great Escape, a 3D platformer sequel. The year 2003 saw the release of another 3D platformer, Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc. In 2005, Phoenix Interactive attempted to develop a new 3D platformer under the title Rayman 4; however, this was cancelled in favour of Rayman Raving Rabbids, a different 3D platformer which was being developed by Ubisoft Montpellier. However, it was similarly cancelled. Many of its elements were recycled into a spin-off party game, also titled Rayman Raving Rabbids, which went on to spawn its own series of sequels, which bore progressively less resemblance to the Rayman series. In 2011, Rayman Origins, a side-scrolling 2D platformer sequel, was released. In 2012, a direct sequel, Rayman Legends, was announced.
In the beginning, there were only the Lums – little beings of pure energy. They came in several coloured varieties, each with their own attributes, but the most important were the one-thousand Yellow Lums. One day, the Lums focused their energy into thought, and created a god named Polokus (also known as the Bubble Dreamer). Polokus's power was such that his smallest thought or desire became reality. Through his dreams (which were composed of friendly creatures called Electoons), he created the Glade of Dreams, the world in which the Rayman series takes place.
The Glade of Dreams is a rich and magical world, featuring many diverse environments, from relatively realistic forests and mountains to surreal landscapes of music and art supplies. It has two Moons and two Suns. Polokus populated his world with fairies, Teensies, glutes, and a plethora of other fantasical creatures. The balance of the Glade is maintained by the Heart of the World, a glowing core of energy composed of the original one-thousand Yellow Lums. When Polokus had completed his world, one task remained: creating time. In order to accomplish this, Polokus sank into a deep sleep. In his dreams, he left the Glade, and travelled to the place where all the gods of all the worlds meet. Together they set about dreaming up the future. Wise men say that, at the dawn of time, a war broke out between the gods for control of the one-thousand Yellow Lums. This is commemorated by the Game of the Gods. It is also told that the Glade was originally shaped like a flat disc, and only later became a spherical planet.
For a time following Polokus's departure, the Glade of Dreams was blissful and idyllic. However, Polokus's nightmares could also take on a life of their own. When Polokus had his First Bad Dream, a monstrous being known as Jano was created. Jano launched an invasion on the Glade with his spawn, the Darktoons, which were the antithesis of the Electoons. In order to combat Jano, Betilla the Fairy and her sisters – a group of benevolent nymphs – travelled to the Primordial Forest and used their magic to create Rayman, a hero who could help to maintain the balance of the Glade and protect it from evil. However, the nymphs accidentally lost a sack of Lums on their way to the ritual, and as a result, Rayman was born without limbs. In his first adventure – which is referenced but never shown – the young Rayman put an end to Jano's invasion and restored peace to the Glade.
According to one of the Relic mosaics in the PlayStation Vita version of Rayman Origins, Rayman was originally bald, and once had a wife or girlfriend of his own species. As the two slept in the forest one night, Rayman was ambushed by an army of tiny blonde hair creatures, which fused themselves to his head. Terrified by this development, Rayman's partner chased him with a giant pair of scissors. In an effort to escape, Rayman fell over a cliff, but was amazed to find that his new hair could act as a helicopter, flying him to safety.
The original Rayman was released in 1995. At the beginning of the Atari Jaguar version, Rayman is seen frolicking with a group of Electoons while they gravitate around the Great Protoon, a glowing orb of energy which seems to be the Heart of the World under another name. Later, a dark and mysterious villain known as Mr Dark appears, stealing the Great Protoon and defeating Betilla the Fairy as she tries to protect it. When the Great Protoon is removed from its rightful place, the Glade of Dreams is cast into imbalance, and nightmarish creatures like Darktoons, piranhas, Livingstones and Hunters begin to proliferate, capturing the scattered Electoons and imprisoning them in cages. The Magician calls upon Rayman, asking him to free all of the Electoons, defeat Mr Dark and restore the Great Protoon to its rightful place. Rayman receives the Magician's call while relaxing in a hammock, giving him the thumbs-up and responding ‘No problem!’ It seems that Rayman has become lazy, confident and self-assured since defeating Jano. At this time, Rayman apparently lives in a house on a beach, though his home is never fully seen. (The very first level of the game, Pink Plant Woods, is named the Primordial Forest in the original French edition, suggesting that this is very close to Rayman's birthplace.) He then travels through the valley's six different lands, rescuing Electoons and defeating powerful bosses. Along the way, Rayman meets his creator, Betilla the Fairy, for the first time; she gives him several powers to help him on his way, and is kidnapped by Mr Dark for her efforts. Rayman eventually reaches Mr Dark's lair in the Candy Chateau, where the villain transforms himself into monstrous hybrids of the previous five bosses. Ultimately Rayman defeats Mr Dark, rescues Betilla and returns the Great Protoon to its rightful place, restoring the balance of the Glade of Dreams.
From 1996, Rayman appeared in several educational computer games designed especially for children, notably a game based on the original Rayman in which the player has to solve several reading and mathematics questions throughout modified versions of the original levels. This game had several names, and was later released for the PlayStation in 2000 as Rayman Junior.
Other educational Rayman games include the following:
- Rayman Brain Games
- English with Rayman
- Amazing Learning Games with Rayman
- Rayman Activity Center
- Rayman Premier Clics
- Rayman Éveil
- Rayman Dictées
Rayman (Game Boy Color)
The Game Boy Color adaptation of Rayman was released in 2000, and features a simplified version of the original game's story. In this game, the Tings reveal themselves to be tiny fairies encased in glassy spheres. They act as guides, helping Rayman to find his way and explaining the story to him. Rayman is told that the evil Mr Dark has kidnapped the Toons in order to steal their magical energy for his own use, so Rayman sets out to stop him and restore peace to his world. The aforementioned characters are the only ones who appear in the game, which is notable for featuring a climactic battle between Rayman and Mr Dark in the Rocky Peaks; this contrasts with the original game, where Mr Dark shape-shifts in various hybrids of the previous bosses during the final battle.
Rayman 2: The Great Escape
Rayman's next adventure, Rayman 2: The Great Escape, features a darker story and somewhat more realistic environments. Prior to the opening of the game, the Glade of Dreams is invaded by an army of Robo-Pirates from space, led by the diabolical Admiral Razorbeard. The pirates enslave tens of thousands of innocent creatures, imprisoning them on their colossal flying ship, the Buccaneer. Rayman joins a resistance movement, and travels with his friend Globox to the Great Forest, where the pirates are massing. In the middle of a fight, Rayman's powers suddenly disappear – he receives a telepathic message from Ly the Fairy, who tells him that the Robo-Pirates have just smashed the Heart of the World, scattering the one-thousand Yellow Lums across the Glade of Dreams, destroying the cosmic balance and stripping Rayman and Ly of their magical powers. As Rayman is captured by the pirates, he tells a frightened Globox to run and find Ly for help. Rayman is imprisoned in a jail cell onboard the Buccaneer, and it seems that the Glade's last hope has been lost. However, Globox gives himself up to the pirates in order to be reunited with Rayman. Globox gives him a Silver Lum, which he received from Ly and smuggled into the ship. The Silver Lum restores Rayman's ability to shoot with his magic fist, allowing him to smash into a vent and escape. Globox accidentally knocks Rayman off the ship and they both fall to the ground.
On his journey to find Ly the Fairy, Rayman meets Murfy (a helpful greenbottle) and the Grand Minimus (the king of the Teensies) for the first time. When Rayman finds Ly, she asks him if he has heard of Polokus, and he tells her that he has not. Ly informs Rayman that Polokus's power is immense, and that he is their only hope of defeating the Robo-Pirates, but that he has been sleeping for many years. In order to reawaken Polokus and enlist his help, Rayman must track down the four Masks of Polokus – ancient artefacts that the god hid around the Glade of Dreams, and which, when reunited, could bring him back. In order to do this, Rayman must defeat the masks' remaining Guardians, whose personalities range from reasonable to insane. Each time he finds a Mask, Rayman is briefly transported to Polokus's resting place, where he meets the ancient god for the first time and gives him his Masks, one by one. Rayman must also collect all one-thousand Yellow Lums scattered throughout the game to repair the Heart of the World, and free dozens of friendly creatures that the pirates have imprisoned in cages. Along the way, Rayman carries out many tasks, rescuing his friends Sssssam the Watersnake, Carmen the Whale, Globox, and Globox's 650 babies. At one point, while searching for an Elixir of Life to cure his friend Clark the Giant, Rayman encounters his first foe, Jano, the monster whom he was created to defeat. Jano is now the Guardian of the Cave of Bad Dreams, a subterranean grotto where Polokus's nightmares are imprisoned. Although they have a protracted battle, Rayman defeats Jano, who apparently comes to respect Rayman when he chooses the Elixir of Life for his friend rather than a mountain of gold. They part on good terms. Eventually, Rayman collects all four Masks, reawakening Polokus, who uses his power to destroy almost every Robo-Pirate in the Glade of Dreams. However, Polokus's power does not extent into the air, so he cannot take down Razorbeard and his prison-ship, the Buccaneer. Rayman travels to the Buccaneer to free its prisoners and defeat Razorbeard himself. After a long battle, Razorbeard flies away in his esape pod and blows up the Buccaneer with Rayman inside. Rayman was believed by his friends to have died in the explosion, the only thing left of him being his left shoe. At his funeral, Rayman arrives safe and sound and is reunited with his foot. After his long and difficult adventure, he is told that the Robo-Pirates are gone and the Heart of the World is back together. Rayman is then told to rest, as it is unknown what challenges tomorrow will bring.
Rayman: The Animated Series
Produced in 1999, Rayman: The Animated Series was a short-lived television series with little connection to the games. In the first episode, Rigatoni, the villainous boss of an intergalatic circus, captures Rayman and takes him to his circus. Rayman, however, does not take this and jokes around with Razorbeard, who is now portrayed as Rigatoni's servant. Rayman finds out how badly the other circus freaks are being treated and helps them escape. Angered, Rigatoni phones Inspector Grub and tells him to find Rayman and his new friends and bring them back. Meanwhile, outside the vast city of Aeropolis, Rayman and the gang see an old man struggling to fix a car. The man promises he'll let them have the car if they can fix it and Cookie (one of the other fugitives) successfully manages to do so. After evading Inspector Grub, they seek refuge in what seems to be the detective's house.
In Rayman M, a multiplayer spin-off game, Rayman and his friends and foes returned for a competition to see who actually was the best. This surprising biathlon contained two parts: Racing and Battle. The events of this game do not seem to be connected to those of the main series.
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc
At the beginning of Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, Rayman and his best friend Globox are sleeping in a forest in the Glade of Dreams. Nearby, a Red Lum sees something so terrifying that it transforms into a malevolent Black Lum known as André. André converts other Red Lums to Black Lums simply by touching them. By stripping the wool from animals, the Black Lums weave costumes for themselves, becoming new enemies known as Hoodlums. André schemes to infect the Heart of the World, using its energy to create an unstoppable Hoodlum army.
Eager in his intents, he storms through the doors of the Fairy Council, unaware that, with the help of Murfy, Rayman and Globox had already arrived there, frantically searching for him. Globox, standing in a hallway, screams and accidentally swallows André, where André soon decides to reside. On the advice of the Grand Minimus, Rayman and Globox travel across the Glade of Dreams and visit three different Teensie doctors, each of whom attempts to remove André from Globox and hopefully destroy the Black Lum. Along the way, the heroes have a run-in with the Knaaren, a race of subterranean warriors who worship a god known as the Leptys. When Rayman defeats their champion, Reflux, the Knaaren reward him: with the Sceptre of the Leptys, they grant him the power to transform Black Lums into Red Lums with a simple grimace. Then Rayman and Globox are allowed to go along their way. When they reach the third Teensie doctor, he decides to join forces with the first two, and together they manage to extract André. However, André escapes, and tracks down the Knaaren warrior Reflux, who was disgraced by his defeat at the hands of Rayman. André convinces Reflux to steal the Sceptre of the Leptys from his king, granting the evil duo tremendous power, which they can use to destroy Rayman.
Rayman and Globox chase André and Reflux to several different locations, destroying the Hoodlum Headquarters, and finally arriving at the Tower of the Leptys. There they find Reflux and André, now essentially fused into a single body and imbued with the godly power of the Leptys. Throughout the battle, Reflux becomes more and more powerful. He embeds the Sceptre in his back, allowing him to draw on its power directly, and causing him to grow to gigantic size, develop wings, and spawn Hoodlums from his back. Following his final defeat amidst the otherworldly clouds of the Leptys, Reflux crystallises and shatters, revealing that André was hiding inside his back and using the power of the Sceptre to spawn minions during the battle. Rayman uses his grimace to convert André back to a Red Lum, causing all other Black Lums to return to their original blissful state. Rayman and Globox fall back to the forest they were sleeping in at the start of the game. As Rayman attempts to get some sleep, Globox says that he misses André, and asks Rayman to bring him back by scaring a Red Lum. Rayman says that he doesn't think that's a good idea, and that he wouldn't know what could scare a Lum. As the heroes fall asleep, the player is shown an apparent flashback in which the hands of the sleeping Rayman suddenly come to life and walk off. The hands see a Red Lum and scare it by making shadow puppets, causing to to transform into André and revealing that Rayman's unconscious hands had set the events of the entire game in motion.
Rayman 3 (Game Boy Advance)
In this handheld sidescroller, Admiral Razorbeard strikes back at the Glade of Dreams, and it is up to Rayman to save his friends yet again. These events may take place between those of Rayman 2 and Rayman 3, or may simply be considered an alternate version of Rayman 3’s story. Rayman and Globox talk about how Globox was saving the Teensies, when he accidentally swallowed a Black Lum. Suddenly, Globox vanishes and Rayman goes looking for him. Facing similar events to Rayman 2, Rayman soon battles Razorbeard's machine, the Grolgoth, once more and defeats Razorbeard.
Later, Globox tells his children that he saved the world, with a little help from Rayman.
Rayman: Hoodlums' Revenge
In Rayman: Hoodlums' Revenge, a handheld spin-off, it is revealed that part of André's spirit remained in Globox's body when André was expelled. The spirit of André summons back the Hoodlums to get their revenge on the world for being defeated. One of their plans is to create a clone of Reflux to kill Rayman.
Rayman and Globox are napping in the Clearleaf Forest, when Globox hears a strange sound and goes to follow it, only to be captured by the Hoodlums. Rayman wakes later that afternoon to find Globox missing, and goes searching for him with the help of Murfy, fighting the Hoodlums along the way and destroying Reflux's plum juice factory. Rayman later reunites with Globox as he fights the witch Bégoniax.
As the duo go further, Rayman starts noticing Globox's strange split personality, the other side of him being very cruel and rude. When he defeats the Firemonster, André's spirit announces his full possession over Globox, to Rayman's dismay.
Eventually, Rayman defeats the Reflux clone, expelling André's evil spirit from an unconscious Globox. Globox then wakes, returned to his normal self, and the two walk off together in the forest, Rayman stating they made a great team.
Following the release of Rayman 3, two attempts were made to develop a 3D platforming sequel. The first was cancelled outright, and the second was cancelled and recycled into a party game (which went on to spawn its own spin-off franchise). Eventually, aspects of both platformers were combined to create a 2D sidescroller for the Game Boy Advance, which was released in 2006.
Rayman 4 (cancelled prototype)
The first attempt was made by Phoenix Interactive in 2005. This studio began work on a game titled Rayman 4 (cancelled prototype), and commissioned a substantial amount of concept artwork, much of which was gradually leaked to the public over the following years. This artwork shows that the game would have features faithful 3D recreations of many environments from the original Rayman, such as Band Land and Picture City, as well as a plot involving Bad Rayman. After four months of pre-production, the game was cancelled.
Rayman Raving Rabbids (cancelled prototype)
The second attempt was made by Ubisoft Montpellier, the studio which developed the first three Rayman games. In 2006, a 3D platform game designed by Michel Ancel and known as Rayman Raving Rabbids was set to be released. This game, which Ancel has referred to as Rayman 4, would have been an epic adventure story in which Rayman teams up with his former enemy André to save both of their girlfriends and defeat a Rabbid invasion through force. However, this game was ultimately cancelled, and its assets were recycled into Rayman Raving Rabbids – a party game which was followed by a string of sequels.
Rayman Raving Rabbids (Game Boy Advance)
In 2006, the Game Boy Advance version of Rayman Raving Rabbids was released. It is not a party game, but a 2D sidescrolling platformer, very similar in gameplay to the Game Boy Advance version of Rayman 3. The game is essentially a fusion of Phoenix Interactive's Rayman 4 project and Ubisoft Montpellier's original Rayman Raving Rabbids platformer. The story is closer to that of the cancelled Rayman Raving Rabbids: the Glade of Dreams is invaded by an army of vicious Rabbids, which are led by a colossal war machine known as the Rabbids' ship, and Rayman sets out on a quest to take them down. The levels and art style, however, are closer to those of Phoenix Interactive's Rayman 4 project. Many of the game's levels are either locations from the original Rayman that Phoenix planned to revisit, or locations that were originally designed by Phoenix's concept artists. The game features familiar enemies like Livingstones, Darktoons, Hunters and piranhas. Along the way, numerous characters from Rayman 2: The Great Escape and Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc make cameo appearances – most notably Ly the Fairy, who plays a major role in the game. Rayman eventually destroys the Rabbids' ship and restores harmony to the Glade of Dreams once more.
Rayman Origins is a 2D sidescrolling platformer sequel released in 2011. At the beginning of the game, Rayman, Globox, Polokus and some Teensies are sleeping peacefully on a branch of the Snoring Tree, when a nearby microphone carries the sound of their snoring all the way down to the Land of the Livid Dead. An undead Granny becomes increasingly irritated by the racket, and furiously sends an army of Darktoons, Psychlops and other nightmare creatures to invade the Glade of Dreams. The heroes are captured and imprisoned. When they break free, they find that their enemies have gone on a rampage, capturing Electoons and locking them up in cages. Since the Electoons are the stuff of Polokus's dreams, this has caused the bonds that hold the Glade together to begin fraying. The heroes set out to free the Electoons, which gradually build bridges to new locations that they can visit, and the nymphs (including Betilla the Fairy), who are being held prisoner by Darktoons. Along the way, the heroes must collect Lums, which they can trade to the Magician for more Electoons.
At some point in the game, a mysterious mechanical city known as the Moody Clouds appears in the sky. In order to reach the Moody Clouds and solve its mystery, the heroes must track down and free the Four Kings of the lands, all of whom have been transformed into vicious monsters by the imbalances of the Glade. With the help of all the nymphs, the Kings, the Dreamer's Door is activated, and the heroes can use it to transport themselves to the Moody Clouds. After fighting their way through the mechanical city and overcoming legions of robotic enemies, they discover who is responsible for creating this mechanical fortress and its robotic army: the Magician. Over the years since the original Rayman, the Magician has become obsessed with Mr Dark, and the walls of his headquarters are covered with posters showing pictures of the old villain (one even saying ‘♥ Mister D’). An early version of the game's script goes into much more detail about the Magician's motivations, revealing that his real name is Ales Mansay, that he was bullied in magic school for his poor magical abilities, and that he always secretly wanted to be like Mr Dark. The Magician considers Polokus to be a childish and useless god who allows his nightmares to endanger his own people. In order to bring an end to Polokus's chaotic reign and impose a new order of discipline and reason, the Magician built the Moody Clouds, and an army of mechas with which to take over the Glade of Dreams. He planted a microphone in the Snoring Tree to start a war with the Livid Dead, simply to manipulate Rayman into collecting Lums which the Magician could use to power his creations. After the heroes defeat mechanical duplicates of two of the game's previous bosses, they confront the Magician, who distracts and confuses them with a disco number before runnning away. A difficult chase sequence ensues as the Moody Clouds begins to disintegrate, with debris and machines collapsing and falling through the air. Then the Magician boards a flying ship, and the heroes must chase him through the sky on the backs of their mosquito friends. Eventually the ship collides with the Moody Clouds' glowing energy core, causing a colossal explosion. The heroes land on the Snoring Tree and immediately go back to sleep. The Magician's fate is unknown.
By collecting the ten shiny Skull Teeth strewn throughout the game and giving them to the Deadman, the heroes can access the Land of the Livid Dead, the game's optional final level in which undead Grannies like the one seen at the beginning of the game are the primary enemies. At the end of this very difficult level, the heroes encounter the monstrous Big Mama, a tentacled, squid-like beast. When they defeat her, she transforms into a nymph and thanks the heroes for their help.
The next game in the series, Rayman Legends, is currently in development. It features gameplay and graphics very similar to those of Rayman Origins, but takes place in a more grounded setting, based on myths and legends. Certain toys will be able to unlock additional content in the game, a feature pioneered by Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure.
|Rayman (1995) • Rayman 2: The Great Escape (1999) • Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc (2003) • Rayman Origins (2011) • Rayman Legends (2013)|