It's odd. The platforming genre hasn't seen much in the way of innovation lately. Super Mario 64 wrote most of the rules of 3D platforming, and just about everything that came after followed those rules rather diligently. But despite this, I think the last couple years have been a renaissance of sorts for the genre. Yes, there was a Mario game that wasn't really groundbreaking, but it was still an impressive piece of work. And we got Jak And Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, and Sly Cooper. Coupled with the release of old classics like the Super Mario Bros. and Sonic The Hedgehog games on the Game Boy, it's really an interesting time period.
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc is one of the many good platformers available right now, and like many good platformers offers a unique and beautiful world for gamers to explore in.
As Kyle mentioned, Hoodlum Havoc has a wonderfully irreverent sense of humor. It gets a little silly at times, but it's also sly. While most people think of platformers as mostly a kid's genre, I think many older gamers will have a hard time not breaking into a grin or two while playing Rayman 3. Especially when it comes to the self-referential gibes, it really does take a pretty experienced platforming junkie to appreciate it.
While much of Rayman's gameplay is fairly standard, it's good to see that the developers were at least able to stretch their imaginations from a visual standpoint. The bonus level Kyle mentioned, which featured the funky disco music, was ridiculously psychedelic. It was sparkly, and neon, and had purple flower things spinning off in the distance, and the music was groovy (apologies, but that really is the best adjective to describe that tune). The game does feature a lot of rehash when it comes to environments, whether it's trudging through snow or trying to out of a dark and dank forest floor covered in mushrooms. But there were many times when I found the visuals quite striking in the course of playing. Most of the levels in Rayman are a little on the linear side, but their visual appeal alone will keep them from seeming boring.
There's not a whole lot I can complain about in Rayman 3. It is in every way a very solid game. The only drawback is that there isn't much that makes it an exceptional platformer. That isn't such a bother for me though, as I really do appreciate good execution. I'm also a genre fan who manages to squeeze a platformer into my console from time to time. And while Rayman had very standard gameplay, I found its unique sense of style and personality made it very appealing.
Perhaps that last thought is the best way to describe platform games these days: it's a genre that's comfortable in its old clothes. After Super Mario 64, the basics are down, so instead of fumbling around with gameplay mechanics, developers can now focus on creating compelling worlds and cultivating a sense of style.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the GameCube version of the game.