- Visual Design
- Sound Design
Rayman Origins was a work of art, in this humble reviewers opinion; a colourful, cartoony world populated with daft enemies, massive and ridiculous bosses, and tonnes of content and replayability. This was the game that any fans of 2D platforming ought to have seriously looked at before declaring Mario or Sonic the King of the Platformers, as Rayman Origins offered a breath of long overdue fresh air to the almost forgotten genre of mascot-based 2D platformers.
Now, Rayman Legends returns us to one of the most vibrant and varied gaming worlds of recent years, now with some 3D graphics and a smörgåsbord of new content. Can the inevitable sequel to one of the most interesting games of the last seven years truly hold up?
Rayman Legends: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Wii U (Reviewed)
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
The main game comprises of five worlds; a number which is slightly less than that of Rayman Origins. There is a narrative, but it’s so wafer thin, that it’s not even worth worrying about; Rayman Legends is of the mentality that the likes of dialogue and cutscenes are not needed to compel the player through, and in this case, it certainly isn’t wrong. Like its predecessor, you’ll be charging from left to right (and sometimes upwards) jumping, sprinting, wall-running, hovering, and punching your way through enemies and obstacles, all in the aim of rescuing a set amount of creatures. This time round, it’s the Teensies (blue wizard rodents, most of which seem to be royalty of some sort) who require your assistance, and rather than having three Teensie’s to rescue, all hidden from view, you now have up to seven additional Teensie’s to rescue, some in more plain site, and demanding some jumping and timing finesse to reach. This helps add a bit more intrigue in the levels as you blast through at high speed, keeping an eye out for a flash of blue, and an ear out for cries of help. Rescuing Teensie’s unlocks further progress through the worlds, and also allows you to gain access to one off stages to unlock characters like Barbara and all her numerous sisters. Additionally, the Lum’s return as Rayman’s equivalent of living Mario coins, the collection of which unlocks further characters and skins. With up to a million Lum’s required to unlock certain characters, devoted Rayman fans have a lofty goal to attempt to reach.
Visually, the game is astounding. I wouldn’t quite put it to the same level of it’s predecessor, as 2.5D graphics are something which have been overdone. However, with the impressive artistic style evident in Rayman Origins clearly on display here through a slightly altered medium, this hardly dents the visual appeal, and actually can be considered an improvement if we’re talking about enemies rather than the environments . It also has to be said that this is the sort of game which HDTV’s were made for, with colour bursting out of the screen in ways that make the greyscale shooters of this generation weep in envy. The variety in colour within levels, as well as the changing themes and architecture as you progress also make your time with the game consistently exciting.
Audio is also spot on. The use of music ties in so well with what you’re seeing and interacting with, especially in the case of the finale levels of each world, which act almost like a musical. My major highlights include the levels based on a Rayman-esque take on Eye of the Tiger, played on flamenco guitars, and the The 5,6,7,8’s Woo Hoo (that track from Kill Bill Vol 1) renamed “Goo Goo“.
Aside from the main campaign, there are also scratch cards to collect (unlocked via Lum’s) which in turn unlock a Creature’s for a Creature Gallery (I still haven’t worked out what the hell that bit’s about) extra Teensie’s and Lum’s, as well as remade levels from Rayman Origins. This last feature is a great surprise, as the graphics have been updated in around forty remastered levels, all full of yet more Teensie’s for you to rescue, and Lum’s to collect.
There is also the new Challenges Mode, which allows you to compete against the rest of the world in Daily and Weekly challenges, including Time Attack and survival runs. This mode, whilst shallow on the surface, is a great excuse to keep returning to the game, with the opportunity to potentially beat the world, or even just unlock more Lum’s.
The game does have it’s drawbacks though. Firstly, like the scratch cards (which you rub the Gamepad screen to “scratch”) the Murfy levels are a huge gimmick, and not a very fun one at that. Just as we did seven years ago with the Wii and its various tech demoes, you’ll be rotating the controller to control the thing, using your finger to move a thing, and cutting ropes to move a thing out of the way. These slow-paced levels feel more like an obstacle than a challenge, and merely seem to exist to justify the games original exclusivity to the Wii U. Especially worse is how frequently these levels occur, with at least two Murfy levels per world.
It also has to be said that the boss battles are pretty much non existent. Whilst Rayman Origins incorporated a mixture of skill and trial and error into its boss battles, you’ll spend most of your time here dodging attacks, waiting for a big blue bumper to appear, before finally being able to make contact. The boss battles, therefore, feel like such a waste of opportunity when compared to its predecessor.
However, with the range of content on offer, and the sheer quality of most of it, Rayman Legends not only belongs in the hands of Rayman fans; it belongs in the hands and the consoles (or Steam client) of anyone who considers themselves even the most casual of fans of 2D platforming. Whilst not quite matching the original feeling of playing what could be considered the best comeback of a franchise for many years, Legends still dethrones Mario with ease, before kicking him in the shins and telling him to get a real job.