User:PluMGMK/Plums and Posts in Rayman 2

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Towards the beginning of the Sanctuary of Stone and Fire, there is a mini-puzzle involving sticking plums on posts. Some of these posts appear to stick the plum permanently, while others let it fall after a few seconds so that it can be carried somewhere else. A series of discussions and experiments in May 2017 led to the discovery that this is programmed in a rather unorthodox way.

The Basic Setup

Just inside the entrance to the level, there is a secret room at the bottom of a fissure that can be accessed only by riding a plum on the lava, down a narrow corridor. At the end of the corridor there is another plum tree on dry land, and a post in the middle of some hot lava. The idea is to get the plum from the tree, throw it onto the post, and use the resulting platform to hop up to a higher level. Up there, there is another plum growing, over a ledge looking out onto a very hot region with some more stone ledges, and pillars with posts sticking out of them. Here, the new plum should be thrown at one of the posts, from which it will fall. Rayman needs to stand under it to catch it and throw it to the next post, from which it will also fall. He needs to catch it again and then place it on horizontal ground. He can then jump on it and access a high corridor, at the end of which is a cage containing a Super Yellow Lum.

Playing this game, one would intuitively think that whether the plum stays on the post, or falls after a few seconds, is a property of the posts themselves. Presumably this is the in-universe physical explanation.

First Indications of Something Unorthodox

Having played Rayman 2 for many years, I have tried several times to change things slightly, by using the plum on which I ride in to form the platform with the first post, instead of taking a new one from the tree. After all, plums are a precious natural resource, so why waste one? Anyway, attempts to do this always failed, suggesting that the issue wasn't lack of skill or bad luck on my part. Still, I didn't spend too much time thinking about it. Maybe all that bouncing on lava simply softened the plum up too much so the post could no longer pierce it in the desired manner.

This changed in May 2017 when, during a conversation with Ray502 in a forum game thread, I published a video demonstrating the phenomenon. Droolie suggested looking more closely at the matter.

Three Different Plum Types

Prompted by Droolie, I made another video, at 1:26 of which came the key insight. It turns out that the game contains three different types of plums:

  1. Normal plums that do not react to posts (which are empty "checkpoint" entities), of which the plum from outside is an example
  2. Plums that stick to posts permanently, of which the first plum on the lower-level tree is the only specimen
  3. Plums that stick to posts for a few seconds, then quiver and fall, of which the second plum, up on the ledge, is the only specimen

The developers attempted to cover this up by putting an invisible wall between the ledge and the lower level, that blocks all plums. Nevertheless, the video clearly shows that there was a big enough window to get the "quivering" plum onto the supposedly stable post, provided one is willing to allow Rayman to die in the process. Adsolution's RayTwol editor also allows the entities to be moved so that the phenomenon can be illustrated without doing battle with the invisible wall.

Droolie speculated about the relation, if any, between these "checkpoint" entities to which plums bind, and the bases for the magic spheres. This has not been investigated thoroughly, and it would be difficult to ascertain much information since there is obviously no level containing both plum posts and magic spheres.

In Rayman Revolution

One year later, The Jonster decided to investigate this in the PlayStation 2 port of the game, which is known to fix some glitches, while introducing a plethora of new ones. It turns out that the plums work exactly the same way, but the invisible wall to cover up the phenomenon was removed! This makes it even more strange that it took almost twenty years to discover these anomalies, but at least we know now!

Note that this is somewhat reminiscent of the phenomenon of the "regenerating" Barrel Pirate, investigated by Master. While it is easy enough to detect in Revolution, it turns out that it occurs in the PC version too, but is covered up much better (in this case by hiding the Barrel Pirate's lifebar before any spontaneous health changes occur).

Conclusion

Plums and plum posts are programmed in a rather counter-intuitive way in Rayman 2. This is excusable considering that they appear only once in the entire game. The anomalous nature of the relationship between plums and their posts was covered up in a rather brutish manner, using an imperfect invisible wall. This was inexplicably removed from the PS2 port, which makes one wonder why this phenomenon took so many years to discover.