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Prerelease:Rayman 2: The Great Escape

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This page details prerelease information and/or media for Rayman 2: The Great Escape.

Hmmm...
To do:
Needs a decent amount of proofreading and rewriting.

Rayman 2's development took place over a long period of time. Originally a 2D platformer, it was cancelled in 1996 due to the increase in 3D games. The final game was eventually released in late 1999, to much praise.

The Cancelled 2D Version

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Which magazine article is this referencing? Source?

Rayman 2 was first intended to be a 2D game, which would have been very similar to the original Rayman in terms of graphics and gameplay. This version would have been released for the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation.

Screenshot from the cancelled 2D version.

At this stage, Rayman 2 had a much greater similarity to its predecessor than the final version. The art style and gameplay were near-identical to the original Rayman, with a lower difficulty level and an emphasis on puzzles; this can be seen in the playable level included with the PlayStation version of the final game.

According to Sega Saturn Magazine, the game was slated for release in late Autumn of 1996. Regarding the state of the game, the magazine stated "it's already in a fairly advanced state - expect to see a preview next month." It's unclear how close the game was to completion at the time, but it seems that the game's music was not finalized by that point.

When the developers saw Crash Bandicoot by Naughty Dog at E3 1996, they became intrigued by new possibilities that 3D games allow. This led to the cancellation of the 2D Rayman 2 prototype in favor of developing a 3D game.

Plot

The plot of Rayman 2 has had some changes over time. Originally, Rayman 2 took place after the original game, in which Mr. Dark has been defeated. Evil robotic invaders from space arrive and imprison many of Rayman's friends, one of whom is Betilla the Fairy. The robots, led by a character named Chief, were set on converting Rayman's planet into a cold ball of metal. It's speculated that Chief was the original villain, eventually to be replaced by Razorbeard. Like in the original Rayman, all of the characters would have been limbless, and old friends, along with new ones, would have made appearances and helped Rayman.

Gameplay

The biggest change to gameplay involved deeper levels with foreground and background layers.
Rayman riding a robot dinosaur.

One of the largest changes to gameplay involved the two-layered aspect of levels. Enemies in the background could fire projectiles at Rayman in the foreground, and Rayman would be able to traverse between layers using a device.

Abilities

Rayman would have started with all of the powers he received in the original game with the exception of running. Like the original, Rayman would have gained even more powers throughout the game; some of these powers include a faster, more controllable fist, a stronger fist that can be used to open secret passageways, and a move that let Rayman's fist circle him for protection. Unlike the final game, Rayman would have had to learn to swim. Rayman would have met new friends, some of which would have followed and helped him during gameplay.

Rayman 2 would have been the first game where Rayman uses mechanical tools and devices. Some objects include a plunger vehicle, a hook, a laser pistol, and a deviant, which is a device used to make Rayman's fist rebound. Rayman would also have been able to mount and ride certain creatures, including a robot dinosaur.

Gameplay Elements

One new addition to the game was floating purple bombs that could be moved by Rayman's fist and detonate upon making contact with Rayman or each other. In addition, a small floating box with a hand was introduced; punching the hand causes Rayman's fist to bounce off of it, which can be used for puzzles.

Tings would have appeared in the game with a different appearance; unlike the sparkling blue Tings in the original game, these Tings would have been silver and metallic, reflecting their surroundings. Life statues and exit signs would also have returned, along with red flying rings that function the same as purple rings from the original.

Playable PlayStation Level

In the final PlayStation version of Rayman 2, the player can unlock a single level of the canceled 2D prototype of Rayman 2 by collecting at least 90% of all Yellow Lums and completing Crow's Nest. You can see more information about this prototype here.

(Source: Rayman Pirate Comunity (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0))

Development Footage

On March 15th, there was a recently-discovered development footage of Rayman 2 with cinematics only, no sign of gameplay here. As we can see there's several cinematics; Robots marching among the burning forest, Robot Dinosaur walking, an unknown orange robot carrying a nuke, and Flips in the pink shoes.

The "Missing Link"

During the process of transforming Rayman 2 into a 3D game, Ubi Soft created a CGI short film titled Rayman's Training. After its premiere to French film festival IMAGINA in February 1st, 1998, Rayman's Training has not been seen since, with the exceptions of clips being used in various Rayman ephemera from 1997 - 1998 including the infamous E3 1998 trailer.

The short film was not known to the public for 23 years, until a listing from the French National Audiovisual Institute was found in January 2021. It's believed to have been a "missing link" between the original 2D concepts and the final 3D game.

What We Know

Having been made during the 2D game's development, this animated short film uses many of the concepts and designs from the 2D game involving Rayman playing a video game where a virtual Rayman is battling a sentient punching bag before collapsing with a clip of the Hunter known to exist. Other than these, not much is known about the short's production, and there is no full version known to be online.

(Source: Rayman Pirate Comunity (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0))

Storyboards and Concept Art

Storyboards

Here are some storyboards for the game used by the development team:

Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (6).jpg
The final animation at Menhir Hills.

Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (7).jpg
The original new game scene; the designs of the cells and boats are significantly different.

Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (8).jpg
The Crow's Nest intro scene, which has a sign in the bottom-right corner.

Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (9).jpg
The Menhir Hills scene with Clark; the dialogue is very short compared to in-game.

Concept Art

Concept art was made during the game's development. Some were included in the final's vignette.cnt file. Others were made posted online by Ubisoft.
Rayman 2 prerelease UbiSoftDigitalPressKit (1).JPG Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (1).jpg Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (2).jpg Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (4).jpg Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (5).jpg Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (3).jpg Rayman 2 prerelease raymanpc1.jpg Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (13).JPG Rayman 2 prerelease UbiSoftDigitalPressKit (9).JPG Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (10).jpg Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (11).jpg Rayman 2 prerelease rayman-fanpage.de (12).jpg

The last piece of concept art, shows an early design for Globox.

December 1998 Build

At this point in development, the game didn't have a visible HUD and lacked visual polish. Only a few levels are shown, which look incomplete and very different from the final.

The Woods of Light

Rayman 2 prerelease IGN (1).jpg

A middle platform exists in the river, allowing Rayman to get to the other side without requiring use of the Helicopter.

The Sanctuary of Water and Ice

Rayman 2 prerelease NintendoArtworkCDIII (1).png

Curved walls surrounded the sliding track instead of pillars.

The Menhir Hills

Rayman 2 prerelease IGN (5).jpg

Menhirs appeared from the electric triangles seen in The Prison Ship instead of a Menhir house. An early violet Lum without a ring can be seen.

Whale Bay

Rayman 2 prerelease IGN (4).jpg Rayman 2 prerelease NintendoArtworkCDIII (3).png
The water's color is more dull, and there isn't an underwater effect.

Rayman 2 prerelease IGN (2).jpg
In the final part of the level, the pirate ship's sail is colored red.

The Iron Mountains

Rayman 2 prerelease IGN (6).jpg
Ly was meant to appear in this level but what her role would have been in it is unknown.

Rayman 2 prerelease IGN (3).jpg
The Menhir part of this level was originally going to involve a flying Menhir instead of a running Menhir.

Videos

These videos showcase a lot of differences from the final game. Lums are absent, so it's likely they weren't developed yet.

Among the differences, Rayman's fist had a slightly different design and didn't bounce off walls. Robo-pirates attacked with cannon balls and were defeated in only one hit. The test level, consisting of three mushrooms, was shown off, along with a very early version of The Sanctuary of Water and Ice and some additional unknown early/test levels.

Later Build

This screenshot was taken during the development of an early HUD. The circular leaf has nothing inside.
At this point in development, cages had only one grilled side, with the rest plain metal; this cage design is interestingly used in the final's HUD.

At this point in development, an early HUD exists along with an early character set that's unused within the final game. Rayman's facial expression was slightly different, with one eye wider open than the other. Two videos were shown off from this build, among which a cut test level can be seen.

Test Level

Rayman 2 prerelease UbiSoftDigitalPressKit (3).JPG

This test level can be seen in some early videos and screenshots. It uses textures from the first few levels and contains water, a plum, a black worm, and two differently-sized mushrooms.

The Walk of Life

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What were these differences?

Rayman 2 prerelease UbiSoftDigitalPressKit (8).jpg

The HUD for the time counter was different, and the level had notable differences.

The Sanctuary of Water and Ice

Rayman 2 prerelease UbiSoftDigitalPressKit AVI (1).png

This part of the level featured larger, color-less pyramids that were on higher platforms. There also appears to be some sort of tower to the left with an unknown purpose.

The Menhir Hills

Rayman 2 prerelease UbiSoftDigitalPressKit AVI (2).png

A Robo-pirate is in the Menhir's way, which doesn't happen in the final.

Whale Bay

Rayman 2 prerelease UbiSoftDigitalPressKit (6).JPG

This screenshot features an early underwater HUD. Underwater effects absent in the previous build are now present.

The Sanctuary of Rock and Lava

Rayman 2 prerelease UbiSoftDigitalPressKit (2).JPG

This appears to be an early or cut part of this level.

Tomb of the Ancients

Rayman 2 prerelease UbiSoftDigitalPressKit (7).jpg

The electric door originally had a floating electric emitter in the middle.

Videos

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Mention anything notable about these videos.

June 1999 Build

At this point in development, the HUD looks identical to the final's. There are still some level differences, and Rayman's health bar shown in later levels is shorter than what it would be in the final.

The Echoing Caves

Rayman 2 prerelease UbiSoftDigitalPressKit (5).JPG

A Robo-pirate in front of an activated switch; this appears to be some sort of cutscene. Despite being active, the switch shows the textures from the light bulbs when it's inactive.

The Iron Mountains

Rayman 2 prerelease adrien.92.free.fr (1).jpg

Either Uglette was originally blue or Globox was in place of her in this part of the level.

Prison Ship

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List differences.

The Menhir part of this level was completely different.

The Cave of Bad Dreams

The start of the level originally featured a small section where Rayman can slide.

Tomb of the Ancients

The timed switches in the Clark fight were originally normal switches.

Press Kit Video

There's a Q&A video from the developers containing some footage of the game from this build:

  • At 0:10, there are red laser bars instead of blue electric bars blocking the cell in the intro scene.
  • At 0:25, there's an early layout of the HUD featuring graphics from the final version. Notably, this HUD shows the number of cages broken but not the total number of cages that exist.

Ssssam Changes

Rayman 2 prerelease Ssssam.png

Ssssam the water-snake from The Marshes of Awakening was once meant to be metallic but eventually changed to be organic. The final game's manual shows an early organic version of Ssssam that looks different from his in-game appearance.