Ubisoft – UBIart – Wii/PS3/Xbox 360 – Out Now
Reviewed by Juanvasquez, Videogames Editor
Much like Sega’s recent Sonic Generations, Ubisoft has taken their iconic platform hero and gone back to its roots. Since his first game more than 15 years ago, Rayman has been a mainstay in platform gaming from generation to generation. This is however, the first time we’ve seen a Rayman platformer this generation. In a wonderfully vibrant 2D world, Rayman Origins takes us back to the classic style of platforming gameplay we rarely see these days.
Rayman Origins’ premise is a little odd. When Rayman and co’s snoring disrupts the residents of the Land of the Livid Dead, they emerge to wreak havoc on their home, The Glade of Dreams, so the limb-less adventurer sets out with his friends to clean up the Glade and save it from the Darktoons.
The first thing that strikes you about the game is its visual style. The cartoon style art is a thing of beauty and looks absolutely gorgeous on an HD screen. While it is a completely new game, the levels are very reminiscent of what we’ve seen over the years, taking in the lush greenery of Jibberish Jungle, to the frozen ice caps of Gourmand Land, and the arid, musical majesty of the Desert of Dijiridoos.
As is standard in a Rayman adventure, things start out very basic. The platforming is rather straightforward and you have no abilities other than being able to jump. As you progress through the game, the familiar powers such as punching, hovering and swimming, are unlocked. You obtain these powers by rescuing Betilla the fairy and her Nymph friends from each of the 5 lands you will visit. Although at first things may seem easy, the difficulty soon curves upwards, and keeps ascending. You find yourself repeating sections and while some may take a few tries to get through, once you clear the level it feels like you’ve genuinely achieved something. While not quite reaching the same difficulty, some of the levels will convince you that this is the platforming equivalent of Dark Souls!
The usual plot point of rescuing Electoons (the spherical pink things with pony tails trapped in cages) is there, although these are hidden as secret locations throughout each level making them difficult to find in some areas. Also featuring again are Lums, the winged yellow orbs that first appeared in Rayman 2. Collecting certain amounts of them will cumulate in rescuing more Electoons. Electoons, in the grand scheme of things, are used to unlock bonus levels and alternate costumes and characters.
A great feature is the 4 player local co-op. It adds a fun twist to the game and can make the game even funnier than it is. The playable multiplayer characters are Globox, the big blue thing and two Teensies. The Teensies are little magical creatures with rather long faces. There are lots of alternate costumes for these characters, which you unlocked with the aforementioned Electoons. The multiplayer works in the same way as you see in the New Super Mario Bros Wii game. With all players on screen at once it makes for a very frantic but extremely entertaining experience, and if any of the players lag behind, then its tough luck for them as the game carries on regardless, meaning the less skilled players won’t hinder any progress, much, although there is a form of auto catch-up.
Just when I thought that Sonic Generations was the saviour of current gen platforming, Rayman Origins comes along and makes the hedgehog look like road kill. This game is immense fun, and though it may have its difficulty spikes, this is platform gaming at its greatest. It definitely gives the near untouchable Super Mario World a run for its money, and with the addition of the multiplayer, the fun is multiplied by 4! Add to this the glorious visuals and utterly brilliant sound design, and Rayman Origins may be the dark horse of this years top titles. A complete joy from start to finish.