Posted on September 23, 2013 AT 01:28pm
For years Rayman had been overshadowed by those goofy bastards known as the Rabbids. His comeback, well overdue, finally emerged in the form of 2011′s Rayman Origins, a beautifully-animated four-player platformer that won over the hearts of fans and both critics alike. Two years later our hero has returned with the follow-up in the series: Rayman Legends.
During a century-long snooze the Glade of Dreams was invaded by nightmares big and small, multiplied and spread across the world like a terrible plague. This time, instead of the Nymphs, the nightmares have captured all of the Teensies, and now Rayman and his friends must rescue them and save the Glade of Dreams. Throughout the five main worlds they must also rescue Barbara and the other barbarian princesses, who will become playable characters once each one is revealed.
Rayman Legends was initially a Wii U launch title, before being pushed back to February so more work could be done on it. It was then pushed back again to September so Ubisoft could port it to all the other systems and add more content, outraging fans and even a couple of the game’s developers since it was already finished for Nintendo’s system and just about ready for store shipping. Plus as the game takes advantage of the Wii U touchscreen I worried that some of the gameplay mechanics would be lost in the transition to the other consoles.
After playing the game and seeing how the control mechanics compare, one realization was clear: Rayman Legends should’ve stayed a Wii U exclusive.
Here’s why: In some levels you take control of Murfy, who helps you and your friends out with tougher areas. To maneuver Murfy you use the Wii U touchscreen to grab items, move walls and platforms, toggle Lums, cut rope, and tickle giant monsters to let their guard down. On some occasions you’ll have to turn the GamePad in order to move rotating platforms.
Playing with the GamePad adds a whole new level of challenges, as you have to sometimes time yourself right when it comes to toggling items and moving platforms. While the AI takes control of Globox and has his sort of independence, you can still mess up and accidentally have him fall and force him to go back to the checkpoint. It also makes it tougher to find the hidden areas where other Teensies and Lums may be tucked away, but these challenges that Rayman Legends brings to the GamePad add more to the fun of it all.
The Xbox 360 version, however, takes a more hand-holding route to the Murfy levels. When you get to the Murfy portions you simply hit B to enact his actions, with the LB and RB buttons used for the rotating platform sequences. It’s way too easy, and takes away a lot of the interactivity that the Wii U version has.
Control-comparison aside Rayman Legends looks as great as its predecessor. The characters and worlds are all drawn wonderfully, giving them a Saturday morning cartoon kind of feel to them. A huge improvement comes during the boss battles, with the monsters looking more like a threat here than the goofy bosses you came across in Rayman Origins. Its fluidity is pitch perfect, with not a glitch to be found in the game.
Along with the Murfy-based levels, also new to the Rayman series are the musical levels, which have you running through to the beat of the likes of “Black Betty” and “Eye of the Tiger.” These levels are ridiculously fun to watch as they are to play, thanks to the way the characters and worlds fit to the melody. However the only hiccup in these levels has to be the underwater one featuring “Woo Hoo” by the 5678′s. Because the gameplay mechanics differ between land and sea this specific level just didn’t flow as well as the others.
If you gather enough Lums in each level you are given a lottery ticket, giving players the chance to win more Lums, Teensies, Monsters (which have their own treasures each day) and level paintings in the Return To Origins section. These Return To Origins levels are exactly what you think they are: worlds from the original Origins game revamped to the Rayman Legends gameplay. While it was nice to revisit these levels it would’ve been a lot cooler if there were a few more original levels you could play through in the game.
That’s not to say that Rayman Legends is lacking in content, rather there is a lot to go through in the game. The number of worlds you travel to may have been split in half, but the worlds in Rayman Legends have double the amount of levels that Origins had. (In laymen’s terms: half the worlds, but same number of levels to play through.)
Then there are the Daily and Weekly challenges, where players around the world can compete against one another to see how quick they can collect a specific number of Lums, how quickly they can get from Point A to Point B, and see how far they can travel before they bite the dust. These challenges take a lot of timing and precision, and they are far from easy to complete.
For more in-room fun there is the Kung Foot mini-game, where 2-4 players duke it out in an epic two-minute soccer match. It’s a wild spin on the sport, and would serve as a nice example for perhaps a sports-themed Rayman party game. The one downside is it doesn’t have online play, so if you are playing alone you’ll be stuck in practice mode.
You can probably beat the five original worlds in Rayman Legends in roughly 10-11 hours, which is a fair amount of time for a $60 title. With the Return To Origins levels and bonus chiptune music world thrown in there it’ll probably take you twice as long to go through the game. Thanks to the Daily/Weekly challenges and the plethora of characters you can play as there are many reasons to revisit Rayman Legends time and time again.
- Great usage of the Wii U GamePad
- Beautiful worlds & characters, fun challenges
- Daily/Weekly challenges keeps you well-competitive
- Some music-based levels don’t flow well
- No online co-op
- Return To Origins levels feel more rehashed than bonus-y
While the wait for Rayman Legends to come out was somewhat unbearable, it was well worth it. It is a fun and exciting co-op that controls well and looks fantastic. That being said those who buy it other than for the Wii U will be missing out on more of the interactive challenges that the GamePad brings to the table.
FINAL GRADE: 8.5 (out of ten)
Reviewed on the Wii U, with Xbox 360 demo version tested for control comparison
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