I don’t usually listen to nostalgia. My childhood was pretty awful all around, and I have little desire to return to it. However, I must confess every once in a while I manage to get my hands on games that I enjoyed long ago and get little jolts of nostalgimine (totally legit, I swear) from playing.
The retro game du jour is Rayman 2: The Great Escape. Released originally for the Nintendo 64 and ported to just about every console on the market at that time and beyond.
I have found that my reaction to old games has been split into two broad reactions. One is “Cool, I forgot about this!” and the other is “Ugh, I forgot about this!” Either way, memories give way to the reality of the game.
In the case of a game like Sonic Adventure, I got to rediscover fighting with the camera, playing as Big the Cat in fishing levels that make no sense in a Sonic game, and the cold realization that this and Sonic Adventure 2 was used as a blueprint for the ill-fated Sonic ’06. Not that there weren’t good moments, but it certainly lacked the sense of wonder I had conferred upon the game in my childhood.
Fortunately, Rayman 2 has not succumbed to that effect. All of the elements that I enjoyed are present and while I have gripes about small things the game is solidly built.
My main criticism, at least when it comes to the PC version, is that it suffers from “consoleitis”. This is when a console game is taken and ported to PC without much care. You can see this in the way that the controls are bound. Instead of the typical WASD for movement and building around that, the movement is bound to the arrow keys. The “A” key jumps, and the space bar attacks.
This goes against almost every PC gaming convention since the space bar is usually reserved for jumping. Short from diving into the game’s .ini files, there is no way to rebind these keys to my knowledge.
Still, once you get used to these controls, Rayman 2 is still Rayman 2. There are the Robo-Pirates, the cartoon fantasy world, and of course a limbless hero with a lot of pluck. Since it’s only $5.99 on Good Old Games, I’d definitely give it a shot!