Rayman 2 (cancelled prototype)
|Release date||Late Autumn 1996 (cancelled)|
|Genre||Sidescrolling 2D platform game|
|Gameplay mode||Single player|
|Platforms||Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn|
Early in its development, Rayman 2: The Great Escape was intended to be a 2D game, which would have been very similar to Rayman in terms of graphics and gameplay. This 2D game would have been released for the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation.
The game would have had a much stronger similarity to the original game that the final version did. The art style would have remained very similar to that of the first game, as would the gameplay, with a few notable additions. The mechanical gameplay was to be more accessible and less difficult than that of the original Rayman game, but it was also to be more cerebral; puzzles would have taken on a larger role, as can be seen in the playable level which was included with the PlayStation version of the final game.
According to one magazine article, the game was due for release in the late Autumn of 1996.
It is unknown exactly how near the game was to completion, but it seems that its music had not yet been composed when the game was scrapped. However, the magazine's article on the game stated that ‘it's already in a fairly advanced state – expect to see a preview next month’.
When the developers saw Naughty Dog's original Crash Bandicoot game at the 1996 Electronic Entertainment Expo, they became aware of the new gameplay possibilities offered by the 3D platforming genre. This lead to their cancellation of the sidescrolling Rayman 2 prototype in favour of the final 3D game.
Rayman would have started the game with all of the powers he received during the original game, and he would have gained additional powers as the player progressed. His telescopic fist would have been able to fly around more freely, and with greater momentum; punching and jumping in a certain way would even cause the fist to circle Rayman completely due to the centrifugal force. Rayman would have been able to punch through certain surfaces to open up secret passageways. As in the final 3D game, Rayman would have learned to swim. Rayman would have met new friends, and some of these would have followed and helped him during gameplay.
Rayman would have started using mechanical tools and devices. These would have included a plunger vehicle (possible something similar to the plunger gun in Rayman Raving Rabbids), a hook, a laser pistol, and a ‘deviant’ – a device used to make Rayman's telescopic fist rebound. Rayman would also have been able to mount and ride certain vehicles and creatures, including a robot dinosaur (this idea was recycled in the cancelled Rayman 4).
One new platforming element was the addition of a 'cowardly' platform, which would shrink away from Rayman in fear should he approach it. Punching the platform would create a sparkling connection between it and Rayman, which would prevent it from escaping while the connection endured. This new power was to be called the platform fist. Very similar-looking (though otherwise completely different) platforms were found in the Game Boy Color version of Rayman. Perhaps the most significant alteration to the gameplay was that the levels were now two-layered; there was both a background and foreground. Enemies in the background could fire projectiles at Rayman while he was in the foreground, Rayman would be able to teleport himself between layers by activating a device that resembled a shower with a toilet-handle attached. This background–foreground system was quite similar to the one found in the games Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus.
Another new object was a small floating box with a hand protruding from it; some of these boxes floated stationary, but others moved horizontally or vertically. When Rayman punched the hand, his fist would bounce off it; this would allow Rayman's fist to reach otherwise unaccessible spots, such as an out-of-the-way life statue, or let him his a floating bomb from another angle. It was even possible for the fist to be bounced around between multiple floating hands.
Tings would have appeared in the game; unlike the sparkling, blue Tings of the original game, these Tings would have been silvery and metallic, and reflected their surroundings, like small convex mirrors. Life statues and exit signs would also have returned. Red flying rings would have returned, although, strangely, they functioned the same as purple ones, in that they did not sink when Rayman grappled them.
The plot of the cancelled game was similar to that of the final Rayman 2. In the prototype game, Mr Dark has been defeated and has vanished from Rayman's island. Then, evil robotic invaders from space arrive, and Rayman has to defeat these invaders while rescing his friends from their imprisonment – one character who was imprisoned by these robots was Betilla the Fairy. The robots planned to convert the entire planet into a cold ball of metal. The General would have been involved in the game's story, and probably would have played a much larger role than he did in the final version. It has been speculated that he was the game's villain, and was replaced by Razorbeard in the final game.
Several of the game's enemies have been revealed through the playable level and various magazine and promotional video previews. The antagonists of the game were robot invaders from space (similar to Robo-Pirates in the final version). They intended to imprison the inhabitants of Rayman's island and turn the planet into a cold ball of metal. Like the game's other characters, they would all have been limbless. The game would have featured a significantly higher number of enemies than the original game.
- Pre-Henchman 800 – The primary enemies of the game were what was ultimately replaced by the Henchmen 800 in the final version. These were limbless, orange-coloured robotic soldiers, whose bodies were of a similar shape to that of the General. In their floating right hands, they held musket-like guns, which they could use to fire projectiles at Rayman (they could even fire at him from the background if he was in the foreground). The projectiles were similar to those fired by Space Mama from her rolling pin.
- Pre-Robot Dinosaur – Another enemy would have been a tall robotic dinosaur, which patrolled back and forth, breathing fire at Rayman if he came to close to it. Rayman could jump on the dinosaur's back if it was facing away from him, then flatten its metal head with his fists. The head could then be used as platform – that it, until the dinosaur recovered several seconds later. The Robot Dinosaur which Rayman encountered in the final version may have been inspired by this enemy.
- Flying pre-Robot Dinosaur – This game would also have featured winged, flying versions of the robotic dinosaurs; their 3D model was shown in a promotional video, and sketches of them appeared in a magazine article. Very little is known about them.
- Grenadier – These were limbless enemies, which seem to have been robots, wearing deranged smiles, with several large, red grenades strapped to their bodies. They were covered in soot from the explosions they caused, and had what looked like a sparadrap on their shoulder. The idea for these enemies seems to have been recycled somewhat by the Hoodbooms in Rayman 3.
- Grasshopper – This was a green, limbless, grasshopper-like enemy; it may have been just another part of the robot invasion, but it also could also have been the moths from the first Rayman game returning.
- Pink robot – A pink, yellow-eyed, limbless robot, with a resemblance to both the pre-Robot Dinosaur and the pre-Henchman 800. Nearly nothing is known about this enemy.
- TRONCO XR28 – A green, chainsaw-wielding, limbless robot, with a resemblance to the pre-Henchman 800 mentioned above. This appears to have been a powerful enemy, and may have even been a boss.
- The General – This character was initially set to appear in the 2D Rayman 2, but made only a cameo appearance in the final 3D version, in which he sold the Grolgoth robot to Admiral Razorbeard. The General also appeared in the intro sequence of the PC/N64 version of Tonic Trouble. His willingness to allow Razorbeard access to the powerful Grolgoth so that he can destroy Rayman, as well as his appearance in a promotional video for the 2D Rayman 2, implies that the General may have originally been intended as an evil character for the game, possibly even the main villain. One piece of artwork shows him standing on a wrecking ball, apparently shouting orders to Robo-Pirates while Rayman stealthily approaches.
- Monocle-wearer – This pale, grinning, evil-looking robot is shown in one image wearing a monocle on one eye and clutching a cage between two fingers. His role in the game is unknown.
Playable PlayStation level
In the final 3D Sony PlayStation version of Rayman 2, the player can unlock a single level from the canceled 2D version of Rayman 2. This is done by collecting at least 90% of the Yellow Lums, then completing the Crow's Nest level. Since the PlayStation version of Rayman 2 has only 800 Yellow Lums to collect, the player only needs to collect 720 of them in order to access the level. The level takes place in a grassy environment with strange rock formations in the background, in addition to a cloudy, purple sky. Music from the Walk of Life level plays in the background.
An inspection of the files on the disc of the PlayStation version of Rayman 2 reveals a file called RAY.INF, which contains only the following French text:
///RayMan 2 PlayStation/version:01.12d/date:31 mai 1996/gravure:Vincent Greco/demande:equipe RM2 Sony/destinataire:equipe RM2 Sony/usage perso/derniere version/
Its exact meaning is unknown; however, Vincent Greco was the lead programmer on the original Rayman game, and went on to work on Rayman M and Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc. Judging by the appearance of his name in its files, it would seem that he was also involved in the production of this prototype.