Imagine a pub where all the important protagonists from the gaming world who adorned our youth and childhood gather. Spyro and Crash drink hard liquor in the corner, laugh and cry over their tragicomic fate, Mario "on mushrooms" lies on the floor and counts coins, Samus Aran at the bar refuses the team that shoots at her, and Ryu and Ken treat each other to a beer. Which has colorful umbrellas in it.
In all the hustle and bustle that makes up the everyday life of the mentioned bar, there is a character in the VIP box who has neither arms nor legs, but does not pay for his drinks with the disability benefit paid to him by the state, but with honestly earned money from selling the latest games. Yes, it’s the famous Rayman who first appeared on this day 26 years ago.
It’s a small lie - it appeared on the PlayStation platform at the time but was available for the Atari Jaguar console a few weeks earlier. In any case, Rayman gained his fame primarily on the Sony platform, although he was initially in development for Super Nintendo as well.
The first Rayman was made by Ubi Soft Montpellier, and it was a great business venture as in the UK alone the PlayStation version of this title has sold more than five million copies to date. Excellent sales on Jaguar and PlayStation ensured that the game got ports for MS-DOS and Segu Saturn in 1996 and later appeared on GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, PSN, DSiWare, Virtual Console, and more recently on Android and iOS platforms.
Part of the credit for the game's success certainly lay in the sympathetic design of the main character created by Michel Ancel in 1994. In 2006, Ancel will be officially awarded the title of "Knight of Arts and Letters" by the French Minister of Culture for his work in the video game industry and for creating Rayman and promoting France.
But let’s get back to Rayman’s character. This humanoid character without real limbs, inspired by fairy tales from different cultures, was created by Ancel as something "simple but funny at the same time". Rayman’s main features are a large nose, prominent eyes and a body made up of simple geometric shapes that were supposed to appeal to an audience.
Also, his palms and feet, and head are not connected to the torso, but all of the above simply "floats" around the figure, which was extremely unusual, and at the same time quite attractive and cute.
At the very core of the gameplay, Rayman was not too different from similar games of the time. It was a 2D side-scrolling platformer in which players moved through six different worlds controlling the main character - Rayman. Each level in the game was divided into several different parts, and the player was given a certain number of lives at the beginning of each, which could be lost in the then well-established and well-known ways in the world of video games.
If a player collected a hundred blue spheres scattered across the levels he was rewarded with an extra life. The fight with the enemies took place using Rayman's "telescopic fist", and each world ended with a fight with the main enemy of that level. The fight could have been made easier by using various improvements scattered throughout the levels.
Graphics and gameplay were not the only things that made the first Rayman, but the game was driven by the story that took place around Rayman's fight against the main antagonist Mr. Dark, who brought unrest to the harmonious world of Rayman after he stole the mystical object Great Proton.
After this 1995 title, the Rayman series received a bunch of sequels that surprisingly did not tire the audience, but it was looking for more and more new adventures of its favorite character. In addition to the video game, we were able to watch Rayman in cartoon, which premiered between 1999 and 2000. Unfortunately, Rayman: The Animated Series experienced only five episodes, after which the project was abandoned.
But as we said, you can have fun with really many games with Rayman today, of which we recommend Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends.