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- "Rayman" redirects here. For other uses, see Rayman (disambiguation).
- “Long ago, the Primordial Forest, deep and mysterious, witnessed the birth of a man... a vegetable... no, no, no: a thingamajig. Conjured from the magnificent moonbeams of the second summer solstice, woven together by us, the nymphs, destined to preserve the equilibrium of the sacred universe, the one we call: Rayman!”
- ―Betilla the Fairy, Rayman Origins
Rayman is the main protagonist of the video game series of the same name. Rayman was originally created in the early 1990s by French video game developer Michel Ancel. The character made his debut in the original Rayman game, published by Ubisoft in 1995. With his trademark lack of limbs and helicopter hair, Rayman has become a popular and recognisable video game character, and the series has continued to grow and develop across numerous platforms up to the present day.
Rayman was originally designed to simply be an athletic character with a full body, but because of complications rendering on game consoles, he was left without arms, legs and a neck – his hands, feet and head float around his body. The manual of Rayman Origins gives out a new explanation for Rayman's limblessness: the lack of Lums had the consequence of preventing the creation of his limbs. He has a huge round nose, and strawberry-blonde hair which he divides into two fronds (three in the original game). He has the ability to use his hair as a helicopter, which lets him glide across large spaces and make soft landings. His eyes are dark blue in colour, though in most official artwork they are coloured black; two pictures in the original game showed him with lighter blue eyes. While Rayman is unique in most of the games, other members of his unknown species are seen in the original game, notably the Magician, Tarayzan, the Musician and his wife and child.
Rayman is almost always seen in white gloves and a purple torso with a mysterious white ring on the chest, through which he gains new powers from Betilla the Fairy. The symbol can also absorbs the Silver Lums created by the fairies, and magically opens the pillars containing the Four Masks of Polokus in Rayman 2. Up until Rayman 3, he wore a red neckerchief, which was then replaced with a red hood. He also wears shoes that are typically yellow and white, though the actual designs have changed throughout the series. Rayman Raving Rabbids is where he is seen wearing different clothing that has raised a few questions about his ‘limblessness’ as he sometimes looks as if he has knees, such as the disco costume with its trousers/pants. In Rayman Origins, his Rayman 3 attire was used, but his hood and shoes are a little different. In Rayman Adventures, he wears a new attire. He wears a red bandanna around his hair. He wears a sleeveless brown coat unbottuned around the bottom, revealing a white shirt, and has a brown belt around his waist with a gold buckle. His gloves are now brown, and lighter around the fingertips and his shoes are also brown.
Rayman is a very laid-back character, as he is often seen snoozing either on a hammock or up against a tree, but he is also very athletic and shows great gymnastic skills (able to scale wall sides, and in the Game Boy Advance version of Rayman 3 he is able to do a "body shot", kick enemies and can do monkey bars), especially since being given the power to run in the original game, and then get noticably better from Rayman 2. He is also strong enough to carry things such as baby Globoxes, Magic Spheres, plums and kegs. He can run while carrying an object in Rayman Revolution if he purchases an optional upgrade at the Magic Well. Rayman is also right-handed. Some of Rayman's gymnastic skills include handstands, somersaults and back flips.
Rayman begins as a very poor swimmer; in the original game, he loses a life the instant he falls into any body of liquid. By the time of Rayman 2, he has developed this new skill – although all he can do in this game is a simple dog-paddle. In Rayman Revolution, he is taught to swim by Murfy and a baby Globox at the beginning of the game. In Rayman 3, he is a far more capable swimmer; he can now use his helicopter hair to propel himself through the water, he can perform athletic underwater backflips, and he no longer seems to require any Blue Lums or air bubbles to breathe beneath the surface. In both Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends, he can swim without needing any air like in Rayman 2, and without use of his helicopter hair like in Rayman 3.
Rayman also appears to like several sports, such as basketball. In Rayman 2 he will sometimes take his body off and play with it like a basketball whenever he is left idle. Also, in the Game Boy Advance version of Rayman 3 if the player decided to continue at the "Game Over" screen, Rayman would throw his body through a basketball net and catch it. In Rayman 3 he seems to also show interest in football, as when he is left idle, he kicks his body around and can also kick turtles and plums. Other sports that Rayman appears to like are golf, bowling and karting, as Rayman Golf, Rayman Bowling and Rayman Kart suggest. One of Rayman's hobbies is painting, which was revealed at a later point in the original game and in Rayman Junior.
Rayman's true personality is not explored deeply in the series, though most of the time he is a cheerful character with a good sense of humour. He is also very helpful, and is willing to take on whatever challenges face him for the sake of the safety and harmony of his world. Sometimes he can be a little childish, especially in the original game, as he often pulls grimaces as a form of defence. According to the now defunct Rayman's World website, he is brave, funny and also highly close to nature. In one interview, developer Natalie Paccard discusses the development of Rayman's personality between the two games: 'the original Rayman was a platform game, Rayman 2 is an action game. The universe has also evolved a lot, and so has the character. Rayman 2 is a bit older, able to do more things, and loves a good fight. He's less childish. The game itself includes more action and more tricks.’ In later games, Rayman becomes somewhat self-absorbed, especially in Rayman Raving Rabbids, as the Rabbids start to treat him like a celebrity during his captivity, though he is seen remembering and worrying about the baby Globoxes that he left behind. That however seems to be put behind him as the Rabbids continue to harass him in Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party. It is revealed through interviews with Michel Ancel that Rayman was meant to be a bit of a show-off who does not take himself too seriously. This aspect of the character was supposedly overlooked during Rayman 2 because of Ubisoft's focus on the environments of the game. It was in Rayman 3 that Ubisoft tried to show Rayman's true personality, giving him an updated look to match his newfound attitude and charisma. A Rayman 3 press release stated that ‘Like his core gaming audience, Rayman as a character has matured and now has a wilder edge, only hinted at in the earlier games.’
However, in Rayman Origins, Rayman seems to have recovered part of his childish personality; he bears a more joyful, careless and impulsive attitude, though he keeps the heroic spirit that characterized him in previous games. While the trailers and other commercial media described him as a "New Crazy", Michel Ancel explains Rayman and Globox's personality: 'They're the kind of characters who look... stupid, really, but they're not stupid, just simple. And all they really want to do is just focus on doing their job, no matter what.' When Rayman Origins was still developed as a prequel, the newborn Rayman was intended to bear a more immature, confused and unintelligent personality, blowing Betilla's skirt with his propeller hair and annoying the magic people; the game was initially focused on Rayman and Globox's personalities and how they evolved over time to become the heroes of the Glade of Dreams; the concept was changed when the game became a sequel.
Rayman is the creation of French video game developer Michel Ancel, who was born in 1972. Around 1980, the eight-year-old Ancel began playing video games. Five years later, he began to create his own simple logic games, featuring characters that he invented himself. He often sketched character concepts on table corners, and around 1992, he came up with his favourite character so far: Rayman. Ancel left Rayman without any arms, legs or neck, making the character very easy to animate, as well as opening up unique gameplay possibilities, such as the telescopic fist. Ancel worked as a graphic artist and programmer on a string of Lankhor and Ubi Soft games in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1992, he and a small team of developers began production on a Super Nintendo game starring his Rayman character. Eventually it was decided to scrap this project, and rework it into an Atari Jaguar game, which was eventually released in 1995. By the end of the game's development cycle, the team had grown to contain dozens of members.
A number of interviews with Ubisoft developers were posted on official websites in the period leading up to the release of Rayman 2. In one interview, Rayman creator Michel Ancel revealed the inspirations behind the character. He states Rayman 2 was inspired by Russian, Chinese and Celtic stories that he read as a child. These elements form the ‘fantastic background’ which comprises the Glade of Dreams, but ‘a more contemporary and cartoonish touch’ has been added. Ancel goes on to say that the concept of the game's world is similar to that of The Dark Crystal, which shares ‘its magic and its Celtic universe’. The cartoonish aspects were inspired by the works of Tex Avery. Ancel states that ‘Rayman is a true high-performance hero who keeps a good sense of humour like Indiana Jones. Rayman is a rebel, fighting against mighty bad guys like in 'Star Wars or Robin Hood’. This suggests that the villains of Ancel's Rayman games – Mr Dark and Admiral Razorbeard – may have been inspired by the likes of Darth Vader and the Sheriff of Nottingham. The character of Indiana Jones is also referenced by Rayman's co-creator Frédéric Houde and the original game co-designer Serge Hascoët. According to a 2011 interview with the director of the Pix'n Love magazine (which has published numerous Rayman-related articles), Ancel took the name ‘Rayman’ from the ray-tracing] software which Ubisoft happened to be using during the development of the original game.
Several conflicting accounts have been given for Rayman's origins. During the development of the original game, the developers considered a story in which a ten-year-old boy named Jimmy created a world called Hereitscool inside his computer, and became Rayman once he was sucked into it. This idea was quickly abandoned. When the original game was released in 1995, Rayman's backstory was left ambiguous, although he already appears to be an established hero within his world by the beginning of the game. The manual states that he is "the guardian of this world". The manual of Rayman 2 does however contain a different account of Rayman's origins. It tells of Rayman's first appearance in the Glade of Dreams, sometime before the events of the original game. In this version of the story, he is discovered by fishermen, who for some reason does not seem to have encountered his species before.
- “Rayman is a unique character of unknown origin.
No wise man or magician can say by what twist of fate or whim of the gods Rayman came to appear at the Glade of Dreams.
All we know of him comes from the fishermen on the Sea of Lums. After a particularly stormy night they found him sleeping peacefully in the shade of a palm tree. Frightened by this strange creature from the sea, they called on the people of the forest, the skies and the waters for help. And the sun had not yet reached the zenith when a host of beings, each one more bizarre than the next, came tumbling over the violet sand dunes. They watched him for a long time. “What kind of a man can he be who has neither legs nor arms?”, they asked one another. “Can he possibly be alive?” wondered one of them when Rayman stretched and yawned loudly.
It didn't take Rayman long to convince the people of the Glade of Dreams of his good intentions. His energy and good humour, his fantastical powers and love of life and nature won over even the most distrustful of creatures. And when he triumphed over the evil Mister Dark, the truth was undeniable: Rayman was the bravest of them all, the ideal hero, the man for whom friendship and laughter are more important than anything else, for whom the greatest victory is measured by the extent of the celebrations that follow it.”
- ―Manual, Rayman 2
A revised origin story for Rayman was revealed at the E3 expo of 2010, when Ubisoft showed a trailer for the upcoming game Rayman Origins. The trailer showed the creation of Rayman by Betilla the Fairy. At this point in its development, Rayman Origins was intended as a two-player episodic downloadable prequel to the series, but it was eventually retooled into a four-player sequel with a retail release. A final, slightly modified version of Rayman's origin story was eventually offered on the official Rayman Origins website in November 2011, and can also be found in the game's manual.
- “When the Creator had his very first bad dream, the nymphs gathered to invoke a being of light capable of saving our world: a creature both agile and carefree, as tenacious as he is hilarious, destined to crack up the Creator with his heroic antics and stop the nightmare!
Unfortunately, although not surprisingly, our bedazzling and bodacious nymphs were distracted by some zombie chickens on their way to the sacred snoring grounds of the Bubble Dreamer, and they lost a sack of lums chasing the crazy creatures over a cliff. Thus, they arrived late and with a lot less illumination.
In the end, Rayman was born with a few missing limbs, which as it turned out, made him a whole lot more limber!”
- ―Official site, Rayman Origins
It is not specified whether this story is intended to replace or complement the one from the Rayman 2 manual.
The PlayStation Vita version of the game contains two mosaics which can be viewed when the player collects enough relics. One of these mosaics tells a story about Rayman's past. Long ago, Rayman was completely bald, and had a wife or girlfriend of his own species. One night, as they slept together in a forest, a colony of tiny blonde hair creatures crept up on Rayman and fused themselves into his head. Rayman's female companion, frightened by this strange turn of events, attempted to cut Rayman's hair with a pair of scissors. The terrified hairs pulled at Rayman's head, forcing him to flee, and he fell over the edge of a cliff, apparently to his doom; however, he was saved by his new hair, which gave him the ability to fly like a helicopter.
Rayman makes his first appearance in the original game where he at the start can be seen sleeping in a hammock. He answers the Magician, who asks him to rescue the Electoons, with a simple "No problem". He can then directly afterwards be seen in the Dream Forest on the map, through the eyes of Mr Dark who is watching him as he makes his way closer to his hideout in Candy Château. In the manual he is referred to as "the guardian of this world". Throughout the game he will come across several other characters of his species, such as Tarayzan and the Musician. Each time after having defeated a boss he will perform a victory dance. The only exception is after having defeated Bzzit, where he comes up and befriends him instead once he sees him crying.
In the final level, Mr Dark's Dare, Mr Dark can be seen summoning Bad Rayman, an evil clone who follows Rayman's every step. It is unknown if this is simply a creation by Mr Dark, or an actual living creature of Rayman's species.