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Rayman Redemption is the definitive version of the original game, and the greatest fan project I’ve played.

I'll preface this by saying that the original Rayman for PC/PS1 has always been one of my favorite platformers — I discovered it a few years after release, fell in love with its world and inhabitants, and every few years I'll go back and revisit it (most recently thanks to the pretty excellent Nintendo DS port). I haven't played the 3D sequels yet, but I have sunk a lot of time into the very enjoyable Origins and Legends. So as far as the 2D entries go, this series is very near and dear to my heart.

Rayman Redemption is a just-released project that has been in the works for years, and faithfully brings the gameplay of Rayman into a collection of new and remastered levels. IMHO, it also manages to be the best version of any Rayman game out there.

First off, this isn't just a straight port of the original game with some fan-levels thrown in. Not only has every original level been tweaked in some fashion for the better (with many classic levels seeing some massive optional paths added), but the gameplay has been altered with many new abilities, enemies, and other bonuses that seamlessly mesh with the original.

I wasn't expecting how many fun details have been added. You'll encounter new varieties of the "Livingstones" (the weird green-skinned explorers that heavily populate the first world), but also a vast amount of beautiful new pixel-art flourishes. Band Land, for instance, now contains more animated instruments (some of which are purely decorative and add more life to the world), like sentient violas and playable "piano key" tiles. The fantastic thing about all this is that even though I'm very familiar with the original game and much of it is permanently etched into my memory, I'm still finding myself playing Rayman Redemption and wondering which aspects are new and which aren't. The art, sounds, and level design is all so seamlessly blended with the 1995 original. After playing a few levels, it will abundantly clear to any series veteran that this is a true labor of love.

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I haven't gotten too far (just beat the Blue Mountains) so I have yet to experience any of the brand-new worlds this game introduces, but given the quality of the new levels thus far (and the seamless expansions to the classic ones) I have no doubts they'll be of terrific quality. The only nitpick I have so far is the main menu music is a little lacking compared to the classic rendition of the Rayman theme, but the rest of the game's score is as great as ever (and might have some new tracks? I can't tell).

It's perhaps a little early to lavish this level of praise onto a game, but as a fan of the series, this is absolutely one of the best things to come out of 2020 and great reason for any old-school platformer fan to dive in. It's like a Rayman sequel and a remake melded into one — and as far as I'm concerned, this is now the only version of the original Rayman worth playing.

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