The Rayman series has received a renewed love in my heart over these last twelve months, with the previous advent of the Raving Rabbid franchise I foresaw a slippery and treacherous slope of cheap merchandise and spin off games for our limbless hero which conveyed no relation to the core franchise and for the most part, I was correct.
But all of that changed in November 2011 with the release of Rayman: Origins – sadly I was too jaded to see past the potential that this might be a complete failure to reinvent the franchise which means I didn’t play Rayman: Origins until mid 2012.
How stupid of me…
As I explain in my review, Rayman: Origins is an amazing game which everyone should play. If you’ve ever enjoyed a simple, innocent video game I urge you to play Rayman: Origins and even if you have never enjoyed a single video game you have ever played, I still urge you to pick up Rayman: Origins.
Getting slightly more on topic, Rayman Legends is the sequel to the brilliant Origins and is being released on Nintendos WiiU console shortly after its release. Getting a chance to play Rayman Legends recently, I found myself falling head over heels with both the game and the WiiU integration.
The gist of it
So Rayman, his comrade Globox and the Teensies happen upon a mysterious tent filled with strange paintings on one of their frolics through an enchanted forest, after examining one of the paintings the group find themselves trapped inside the enchanted world contained within and have to find their way out.
So the story in Rayman Legends is as cutesy and approachable as you could hope for and accessible to pretty much all age groups. The real meat to the recent Rayman games has been the gameplay and level design and I was eager to find out how Legends scored against my lofty expectations from Origins.
Ubisoft have essentially taken everything that made Rayman: Origins wonderful and built upon it, the excellent and vibrant colour palette used in Origins has been expanded (it that’s even possible) and everything feels more colourful, bigger, brighter, newer! It’s like we never left Rayman behind as we run, jump, spin punch and hair-hover our way through the levels. Level design has had something of an overhaul too as we can now travel through the Rayman world not only with three additional players but also with the aid of Murphy…
So the player who possesses the WiiU GamePad controls Murphy – a strange grinning little green genie and essentially an omnipotent force in the game – Murphy can move objects, fling enemies around, freeze people and generally do whatever he wants with no repercussions. Though you get near limitless power with Murphy you are still bound by your own limitations; you cannot touch two separate points on the GamePad screen at once to attack multiple enemies for example and communication is paramount when controlling Murphy. In one instance I had to guide my other players over a series of platforms which (on the TV screen) appeared like normal platforms but on my GamePad screen each had little symbols near them, indicating if they would collapse or not when stepped on, I had to notify my co-op partners where to step (and I was good, I only tricked them into certain doom once)
Murphy can also alter the world at points, during one section I had to turn the GamePad to rotate a cage which the others were trapped in; this would mean that at certain points the players would need to jump at the specific moment of my movements to save them from another trip to Respawn Town.
The secret to comedy…
Timing! And there is nothing more frustrating than latency and lag with devices such as the GamePad – this was a large concern for myself and I know it’s a concern with many people reading this right now. Well, fear not ladies and gentlemen because during my gametime with the WiiU and Rayman: Legends I encounter absolutely no lag whatsoever! The connection between the GamePad and the main TV screen was instantaneous. The technology behind such a feat is very exciting!
The Big Finale
If you haven’t played Rayman: Origins, I think I’ve made it pretty clear that you probably should do and if you aren’t excited by anything else that the WiiU has to offer (although NintendoLand is also very enjoyable) be excited for the possible co-op chaos of Rayman: Legends. It’s a colourful and characterised return to the innocent side of gaming. A return of that missing element which made us all fall in love with gaming in the first place.
This article was written from my experiences with the WiiU and Rayman Origins during a public playthrough at the Eurogamer Expo 2012.