Nearly two years ago, Ubisoft released what not only proved to be a return to critical acclaim for Rayman, but more importantly, they released one of the most beautiful, fluid, technically sound, and entertaining 2D platformers of this console generation, and of the genre as a whole. Playing Rayman Origins was like taking a draught from the fountain of youth; I was a child again, sitting in front of my TV with wonder (but a far more expansive vocabulary of profanities). On September 3, Rayman Legends, the follow-up to my darling Rayman Origins hits store shelves. It has a lot to live up to…
…and by Odin’s beard, it has surpassed its predecessor in almost every way.
When you call a game the platformer of its console generation, and even go so far as to say that it’s one of the best platformers of all time, you run the risk of it ringing hollow when you bestow the same accolades on another game less than two years later. I take solace in the fact that Rayman Legends, which is the new platformer of its generation, and one of the best platformers ever, is based on the same technology and developed by the same team that accomplished this feat in 2011. It is Rayman Origins, improved.
Oh, and it includes updated unlockable versions of the levels from Rayman Origins. That’s right, not only does Rayman Legends include…well, Rayman Legends…it brings with it almost the entirety of Rayman Origins. Two of the best platformer titles of all time packed into one game; it’s incredible.
I find myself now at risk of repeating much of what I said in my review of Rayman Origins. Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m just going to link you again to my review of Rayman Origins and have you read paragraphs…well…all of it, I guess.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Up to speed? Great!
Rayman Legends has the same visual flair, incredibly functional level design, and unmatched fluid gameplay of Rayman Origins. It also, unfortunately, has the same lack of online co-op. I didn’t take Rayman Origins to task for this, but I feel like I have to officially find a flaw with Rayman Legends. Local co-op is fantastic, but not everyone has the opportunity to play with local friends, which is an absolute shame, because it really is a great multiplayer experience. The second drawback of not including online multiplayer is the Kung Foot bonus game. Observe:
I’m absolutely certain it would be mayhem filled fun with four players, but le sigh, I have no friends. This prevents me from earning one of the game’s achievements, and from enjoying the full fruits of the title.
Another similarity that Rayman Legends bears to its progenitor is its at-times rage inducing difficulty. As with Rayman Origins, practice makes perfect. You may find yourself playing through an Invaded level (a race against time, similar in difficulty to the Tricky Treasure races from Rayman Origins) a dozen times before you manage to reach the end, only to find that you were too slow. Then you go through it another dozen times to shave off the seconds. They’re short races, so even a dozen runs will take less than 10 minutes of your time, but the feeling of accomplishment you get when truly beating the Invaded levels is exhilarating.
The same holds true for the newly introduced, and at times fiendishly difficult, Challenges. Rayman Legends includes four ever-changing challenges; Daily, Daily Extreme, Weekly, and Weekly Extreme. The daily challenges change, you guessed it, every 24 hours, while the weekly challenges, no surprises here, change every 7 days. Each challenge has a separate leaderboard, with a certain number of bronze, silver, and gold trophy cups up for grabs. The higher you score, the more people you bump down, and the more safe your cup award is at the end of the timer. Take a look at this past week’s Weekly Challenge:
I lost count of how many runs I had to make to reach the gold cup. I set that score on Monday, at the start of the challenge week, and it stayed at the top of the hill until Sunday morning. Some bastard had come and snuck ahead of me in the leaderboards, bumping me down to a silver cup. Needless to say, I rectified that as soon as I noticed it, setting a new record run for myself and cementing my gold cup. The challenges add a massive replayability factor to the game, increasing its already great value.
I mentioned the functional level design returning from Rayman Origins. There is one new mechanic that was originally designed with the Wii U exclusivity in mind; Murphy the Fairy. If you’ve played the Wii U demo, he’s the little guy who lets you control certain aspects of the level by using the Wii U GamePad’s touch screen. When Rayman Legends became multi-platform, his role was retained and automated with the use of the B button (for the Xbox 360) and the left/right bumpers for rotation. I played the demo on the Wii U, and I wasn’t too impressed; it seemed that having to break away to use Murphy ruined the fluidity of a smooth, fast run. By automating his platform moving to a single button, an extra factor of difficulty and challenge is added without removing the beauty of the game. Just look at the challenge run above for a prime example, and imagine having to use a touchscreen to move platforms while moving.
Along with Murphy, there is a new level type end-capping each major world: the musical platform. These levels are an exercise in rhythm and timing, and are an absolute delight. Keeping with the quirky theme, keep an eye out for the mariachi version of Eye of the Tiger.
Rayman Legends also keeps players coming back for more by use of unlockable content. As I said above, the Rayman Origins levels are unlockable, but not by beating anything in particular. As you progress through each level of Legends, you earn Lums, just like in Origins. When you beat a level, your Lums are counted against certain benchmarks. For the most part, 150 earns you a bronze cup, 300 earns you a silver cup, and 600 earns you a gold cup. At the 450 Lums level, however, you earn a Lucky Ticket. The Lucky Tickets are scratch-off tickets (again, obviously designed with Wii U’s GamePad exclusivity in mind) that award you either with extra Teensies (which can unlock new Legends levels), Lums (which get banked to unlock playable characters), Back to Origins paintings (Rayman Origins levels), or Creatures (similar to Plants vs. Zombies’ Zen Garden).
The more you play (and the better you perform), the more Lucky Tickets you earn. The more Lucky Tickets you earn, the more content you unlock.
I desperately wish that Rayman Legends included online co-op and multiplayer for levels and for Kung Foot; I’m glad local is there, and it should be there, but excluding the online component is restrictive and punishing for people who don’t have locals to play with. Other than making Kung Foot fairly useless, however, the lack of online co-op does not impact the game in any negative way; it is still incredibly enjoyable on its own. Rayman Legends is an impeccable example of how you create a follow up. It is everything Rayman Origins was but with more.
Platformer of the year, generation, and possibly my favorite platformer ever.
[learn_more caption=”Review Results”][one_half]Pros:
- Breathtaking visuals and animation
- Fluid gameplay and impeccable level design
- An incredible amount of content and replay value
- I really wish they would finally add an online component to co-op and multiplayer, because I do want to experience it with friends.
To see where this review score falls in our scoring range, please read our review scale guidelines.[/learn_more]