UbiSoft’s popular platforming character Rayman has been around since 1995 – a few years after the peak of popularity for platform game mascots. The character, designed by Michel Ancel, is charmingly quirky, beautifully animated – and has no limbs!
Intriguingly, given how much of a big deal ray tracing has become in recent years – you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a relatively new graphical technique – the application of ray tracing to the animation of the character is what gave Rayman his name.
Rayman himself has been in surprisingly few games since his mid-90s debut though, with the main series titles going from 2D antics to 3D, to mini-game compilations and then back to 2D platforming again.
A high bar for quality was set right from the very first game to feature the limbless video game mascot – but which are the very best? Join us now as we accompany Rayman through some beautifully designed worlds to check out the best Rayman games!
Table of Contents
1. Rayman Legends (2013)
With Rayman Origins taking the series back to its roots for one of its strongest entries ever, Rayman Legends takes the formula and dials it up to eleven.
With a similar – but even more polished and refined – visual aesthetic to Rayman Origins, it’s certainly a beautiful game from a visual perspective, but Rayman Legends absolutely knocks every other Rayman game for six from the viewpoint of its gameplay and features.
Featuring over 120 stages – with 40 stages remastered from Rayman Origins – the game also features daily and weekly challenges which can keep players invested in the platforming shenanigans pretty much indefinitely, as well as a hilarious local multiplayer game named Kung Foot.
It’s undoubtedly the full package when it comes to Rayman games. Rayman Legends – which features on our Best Xbox 360 Games list – is highly regarded not only as the peak of the Rayman series, but also rightly hailed as one of the finest 2D platformers of all time.
2. Rayman Origins (2011)
A triumphant return to the 2D style of the series, Rayman Origins was the first game to use the UbiArt Framework engine – which UbiSoft also used to create visually stunning 2D titles including Valiant Hearts: The Great War and Child of Light – which brings a hand drawn aesthetic to the game, while also allowing it to run at a silky-smooth 60fps (and, originally, at 1080p – though that has of course been surpassed now!).
It’s more than just its gorgeous, stunningly animated visuals however – Rayman Origins is a brilliantly designed title from a gameplay perspective too, with up to four player simultaneous multiplayer, plenty of unlockables and plenty of variety in its levels.
3. Rayman (1995)
The original Rayman was in development for so long that work on the first game originally began on the SNES, before becoming too ambitious and switching to the Atari Jaguar – and it was originally announced as a Jaguar exclusive title!
Yet most players will of course have first experienced Rayman on the PS1 or Saturn, where it stuck out as a beautifully animated, classically 2D title amidst a sea of then-fashionable 3D games.
Though of course lacking in many features that the later Rayman games would have and it does come complete with a noticeably old-school difficulty level, the original Rayman retains its old school charm and great gameplay.
Though an understandably cut down version, the Game Boy Color port was also excellent – so of course, it features on our Best Game Boy Color Games list!
4. Rayman 2: The Great Escape (1999)
Making the jump to 3D too soon was the death knell for many a 90s platform game series (with extra special mention needed here for the disastrous Bubsy 3D and Earthworm Jim 3D!), but Rayman managed the jump to three dimensions admirably in Rayman 2: The Great Escape.
A playable, colourful and slickly animated game, Rayman 2 is effortlessly charming and appealing, it may not have aged as gracefully from a visual perspective as the 2D Rayman titles, but it’s undoubtedly the high point for the forays into 3D for the series (making it to our Best Dreamcast Games list and our Best N64 Games list too).
It was released in enhanced form as Rayman Revolution (also known as Rayman 2: Revolution) on the PS2 in 2000, featuring new minigames, features and even new abilities for Rayman himself.
5. Rayman 3 (2003)
Sufficiently different to its home console versions to warrant its own entry, Rayman 3 on the GBA is another 2D platformer despite the third game being a 3D title on the bigger consoles.
It’s a good one though, using the 32-bit power of Nintendo’s GBA to bring a unique experience to the console that’s actually aged really well.
Surprisingly, it’s even got unique multiplayer modes and some excellent, Mode 7-style racing levels.
6. Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc (2003)
Though less well received than its predecessors, Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc is still an excellent 3D platform game.
Suffering a little from the lack of involvement from the magic touch of series creator Michel Ancel – who was developing the fondly remembered Beyond Good and Evil for UbiSoft at the time – Rayman 3 had a combo-based scoring system, with points being used to access extra content or hidden areas in the game.
The GameCube version featured extra content and minigames, as well as extra unlockable content if the GBA version was connected to it.
Rayman 3 was also re-released in HD form on Xbox 360 and PS3, running at 60 frames per second and in glorious…720p!
7. Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party (2008)
Skipping over the second entry in the Rayman Raving Rabbids series – which wasn’t bad, but just felt like more of the same after the first game – this third title in the spin-off series was the last to feature Rayman (with the Rabbids having since outgrown and outshone the character they were originally designed to support).
The best of the Rayman Raving Rabbids games, this entry features lots of genuinely amusing parodies of TV shows, films and even commercials – with brilliant use of Wii controls and even the Balance Board, being promoted as ‘the first game you can play with your butt!
8. Rayman Raving Rabbids (2006)
Despite also being released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 (as well as versions that were 2D platformers using the same title for GBA and DS), the Wii version of Rayman Raving Rabbids was the strongest – and how often do we get to say that?
A minigame compilation featuring a whopping 75 different minigames, Rayman Raving Rabbids introduced the world to the obnoxious Rabbids characters – who’ve somehow become a big draw themselves, having made the journey to an animated show and plenty of their own games, even co-starring with Mario in Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle on Switch (and they even have their own animated movie on Netflix, which has just been released!).
The Wii version used motion controls and other Wii-exclusive features to become a chaotic, hilarious experience that the whole family could enjoy.
9. Rayman M (2001)
Released on a multitude of formats including PS2, GameCube and Xbox – and also known as Rayman Arena – it’s here that the mini-game formula for the non-main series Rayman games truly started.
Featuring racing and battle modes that can be played solo or as local multiplayer events with up to four players, it’s a game that’s full of the trademark Rayman visual polish and excellent animation.
However, a lack of variety harmed its longevity – which was even more of a problem for the version released on PS1; known as Rayman Rush, it only featured the racing mode, ditching the battle mode entirely!
10. Rayman 2 (2001)
Not a bad game by any means, the belated Game Boy Color version of Rayman 2 just feels like a bit of a backwards step compared to not only the other versions of the game – with Rayman 2 being a 3D platformer that actually made great use of the third dimension for its beautifully rendered, wonderfully animated and expansive action – but even in comparison to the beautiful first game, that wowed players on consoles such as the PS1 and Saturn six years previously.
It all just feels a bit basic and platforming-by-numbers, though of course if you only had a Game Boy Color at the time, it was still a reasonably fun experience on the move.
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.