Developer/Publisher – Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft
Year – 2011
Genre – Platformer
Formats – 3DS, PC, PSV, PS3(tested), Xbox 360, Wii
Players – 1-4
Rayman Origins © Ubisoft
Review copy was courtesy of Ubisoft
Rayman had been missing in action for a while now, with Ubisoft instead sending a seemingly never-ending wave of their rabbit-like rabbids in his stead. The limpless hero finally returns in Rayman Origin’s, sporting a bold new art style and a return to his 2D platforming roots, so does Rayman latest adventure have the legs to go the distance?
Rayman and his friends loud shoring in the Glade of Dreams has annoyed the denizens of The Land of the Livid Dead, who promptly send out an army to kidnap the Electoons and the Nymphs and generally cause chaos. How Rayman, Globox and the teensies must transverse the lands and bring order back to the world by running, jumping and slapping the forces of evil. And that’s pretty much it for the story, barebones and threadbare, like so many platform games, you here for the gameplay, not the narrative.
Rayman Origins returns the titular hero back to the realm of two-dimensional platforming. Essentially a reboot of the franchise, of sorts, its finds Rayman going through a reasonable facsimile of his original game, with the titular hero seeking out, then destroying, cages holding the imprisoned Electoons. However, caged Electoons called out for help, negating much of the challenge that the original game had in finding them. Rayman will also have to collect lums, the games version of coins, with end of level targets to obtain. The vast majority of the levels also have a time challenge option that unlocks after completing it for the first time,
With over sixty levels to battle through, the game will take a good eight to ten hours before you’ve finished with Rayman’s latest. There’s plenty of variety as well, though a bit of it is a bit on the clichéd side of things, like a ice-world, and a Mexican barbeque, complete with cooking anthropomorphic wieners to bounce off of. In comparison, you’ll find a good number of underwater levels that provide both some of the game’s most relaxing and, inversely, most demanding parts of the game. There are dark caverns that are home to shadow creatures that need to be repelled with light, less they attack you, and you’ll take flight on the back of a friendly mosquito to engage in some shooter action.
Every standard world also has a special chest chase level to unlock through acquired Electoons. Where you’ll chase a chest through a series of high-octane obstacle course that require near pixel-perfect execution to get through, and while these are optional, gaining all of them will grant access to the final stage of the game. Bosses are few and far between and are of the avoid pattern and hit the weak-spot thrice variety; still they provide some of the most memorable moments in the game, it’s a shame there’s so few of them.
Controls are the model of simplicity, you can jump, attack and run, with all the additional powers utilising those same basic controls – like pressing and holding jump whilst in the air to glide (once you gained the ability of course). Rayman gains new abilities from rescued nymphs, including the ability to attack with his limbs, glide and run up walls. Many of these powers seem arbitrary. You can only run up walls that have a curved surface, while a power that changes your size is only used in specific levels (and even only specific points of said levels).
Enemies can be dispatched through the traditional head-stomp, or using punches, kicks and slaps. There’s a rudimentary combo system where you can knock one enemy into another in succession (some places can only be accessed this way). Defeated enemies expand like balloons, which can be burst by bouncing on them or attacking them, the same goes for you if you’re hit; resulting in a return to the last checkpoint in single player, fortunately checkpoints are never far away and there’s no life counter to worry about, and you can always leave a level to go back to it later.
The game can be played with up to four people, ala New Super Mario Bros. Wi.. Ballooned players can be rescued from their balloon state by another player slapping them. It can be hard to keep track of your character at times, particularly if two players are playing as the similar looking teensies and much of the game doesn’t lend itself to the full set if everyone aren’t at the same skill level. Two players is the happy medium, letting both player stop the other from ballooning, and for keeping track of who’s who.
The hand-drawn art style that Ubisoft are using is superb, with immensely detailed environments and smooth animation, all in full 1080; even with literary thousands of sprites onscreen, it never misses a beat, running at a consistent 60 frames a second. It’s also extremely colourful, from it pleasant green forests, to the icy blues, deep purple caverns, to the imposing reds and yellows of a hot flaming Barbeque. The music at times cheesy and daft, at others frenetic, fits the Saturday morning cartoon theme perfectly, while the sound effects hit their mark. Characters all speak nonsense with a few actual words here and there.
While Rayman and company have seemed to have undergone frontal lobotomies, with new immature personalities; but they still know their way around a platformer; Rayman Origin’s is one fine example of the genre and well worth obtaining for fans of the genre.