Slide to the side, Mario; Rayman just got a piece of your throne
20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Just plain fun"
As we sit and look back on this generation, which now reaches its winding months, there are many reasons for which it might be remembered: high definition graphics, the growing significance of online play and the advent of motion controls. By digging a little deeper, though, it is possible to notice that on the software side of things there has been a massive return of 2-D platformers. It is a movement that started in the technically limited realm of downloadable games, moved into the Nintendo Wii and squeezed itself into the HD twins. Now, the widespread sidescrolling fever has gained even more force, because in the middle of Mario going back to its roots; Donkey Kong returning to great shape; Kirby reaching its cutest level; and indie developers being more artsy and creative than ever; Rayman manages to outdo all of them, and in this multiplatform release, it manages to be crowned the 2-D platforming king of the three systems in the market.
The first thing players will notice about Rayman Origins is its immature nature, but that is by no means a negative statement. Rayman Origins is not immature like that young cousin of yours who cries whenever he loses a videogame match; it is immature like a Saturday morning cartoon from the 80s, it is silly and wacky without worrying about consequences or impressions. It will not hesitate in throwing a one-ton anvil on its dearest friend head, and after that it will proceed to put an arm around him, laugh it off into the sunset. The insanity is not restricted to its bright colorful vivid visuals, it is in how the characters move, how they act after clearing a stage, how music seems to pour into the stage design and how even the mightiest fire blowing monsters have a "let's go out there and have some fun while slaying a huge angry beast" vibe to them. Rayman Origins is one extravagant party wrapped into platforming goodness.
Like all good Saturday morning cartoons, our beloved heroes get in big trouble quickly and by accident. Rayman, Globox and two Teensies (the four playable characters in this adventure) are relaxing in the friendly glade of dreams when their symphony of breathing and snoring gets broadcasted through the inside of a hollow tree into the underground world where a bitter old lady – maddened by their constant loudness – unleashes an army of devilish underground beings into the once peaceful world, and Rayman has to go out there beat down some foes and release some friends from guarded cages hidden within the game's stages.
Rayman Origins is accessible and, at the same time, it achieves a great degree of challenge, all thanks to the alluring lums, which look pretty much like the fairies from the Zelda series, aside from the big clueless smile the former species carries. Each stage has about 400 of them to collect, and depending on the amount of lums Rayman has by the end of the stage, he will be awarded a certain quantity of pink smiley medals that unlock secret stages. Ignoring the lums means stages will be cleared fairly quickly, even if it is done with a certain degree of trouble due to enemies and obstacles, but attempting to collect as many lums as possible during your run through the stage will lead to a lot of deaths, since collecting all lums requires speed, ridiculously precise jumps and amazing skills, the intensity on which those qualities are needed gets more intense as worlds go by.
In spite of all that, Rayman Origins never really gets frustrating, because the stages are divided into small segments, which leads to a decent amount of save points. Therefore, significant progress is never loss when players try a radical maneuver to catch a trickily placed 25-lum coin. Even though catching lums is optional, the game warmly invites players into the challenge, and the invitation is hard to decline. The game challenge reaches its pinnacle on the ten secret stages, where players must chase a fearful treasure chest through obstacles, tumbling scenarios and jumps that demand fine accuracy. Everything is done with no checkpoints, without being able to acquire extra hearts, turning the whole stage into a one-hit KO machine, and having to go as fast as possible because of the collapsing stages. It is as tough as nails, and more rewarding than pretty much all gaming experiences out there.
All in all, there is a lot of variety to be found in Rayman, and it all starts with its unique worlds. Sure, you will find the traditional jungle, the dark underwater caves and the sunny shore, but due to the game's artistic personality, players will never feel like they are being dragged through more-of-the-same platforming scenarios; on the contrary, the colors, lights and lines of the background will more often than not wow even the most experienced gamers. However, it is not rare to see Rayman Origins step out of the ordinary and venture into new territory with a world centered around musical instruments in the sky, a fiery kitchen filled with pepper and fire-breathing chefs and a factory with delirious machines. There is not shortage of amusement.
On the gameplay side of things, Rayman Origins is constantly renewing itself. Rayman starts only with the ability to jump and hit his enemies, even his traditional helicopter move is initially absent, but as each world passes Rayman releases a fairy that teaches him a new ability such as running on walls and swimming, and so each world takes advantage of one of those abilities, meaning that as worlds progress the way on which the stages are designed changes radically. As a consequence, the game not only slaps players in the face with glorious scenarios as the story progresses, but it also throws new designs on the screen with amazing consistency. All moves, being critical to achieve success in collecting a good amount of lums, work wonderfully and are very responsive. The controls are as tight as the room for error found in the hardest parts of the game.
As the curtain closes, most players will come to very same conclusion: Rayman Origins is the best 2-D platformer of this generation, no doubt about it. It lands in Kirby's Epic Yarn territory with its stunning art, it pulls off old-school moments that had only been achieved by New Super Mario Bros Wii, it holds as many level design surprises as Donkey Kong Country Returns, it features puzzle-elements absent from those titles and it manages to be more challenging than all of those games. The fact that it features the option to play with another 3 friends in one frantic funny attempt to clear the game further indicates the current tendency that all sidescrolles must go cooperative. Rayman Origins is beautiful, its music ranges from moody to annoyingly catchy, has over fifteen hours of gameplay, tons of extras, ten worlds, many bosses, stages that play like space-shooting arcade games and much more, all packed into one hard-to-surpass package of platforming goodness. It is absolutely glorious.
Rayman Origins makes you sing its tunes in no time. Tan,tan,ta.
10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line:
I am a Hardcore gamer. I Play RPG's Hack n' Slash, Strategy, Puzzles, all you could remember. But some months ago, I was hoping to come by a funny game that makes you roll on the floor, that's when I came by Rayman Origins, A classic, Remade with Lush 2D graphics that anyone will love.
Rayman Origins is all about having fun, and you do have fun playing it.With game design legend Michel Ancel at the helm of this gorgeous looking game, and with a new, dedicated 2D engine named UbiArt Framework powering it, this is no exercise in empty nostalgia.
In Rayman Origins, the latest instalment of a series that goes back to 1996, the titular character and his bizarre friends have accidentally started a war with the Livid Dead, the monsters lurking beneath the otherwise peaceful Glade of Dreams
Having escaped capture, Rayman must work his way through a series of themed stages, collecting floating objects called Lums, and rescuing critters known as Electoons from hidden cages. Grabbing the special King Lums doubles the value of other Lums in the vicinity, and reaching certain Lum targets at the close of each stage can earn extra Electoons, which unlock new levels and characters.
Rayman can jump, of course, but as you progress, he learns new skills such as hovering, swimming and shrinking, bringing a compelling variety to the action, and testing your dexterity to the limits.
And yes, you will be tested. Floating platforms, dissolving platforms, platforms that twist and turn, that bounce you into the air or slowly fall and fade; you need to study and learn the language of the Rayman universe, and within it, the base language of all 2D platfomers.
The stages are typically themed – there are deserts, mountains, jungles, frozen wastelands – but they all have a gloriously eccentric spin.
Everywhere there is humour and whimsy, every screen a feast of bizarre scenery and weird inhabitants. Although the visuals are 2D, the generous use of parallax scrolling gives a rich depth, the intricately detailed landscapes seemingly fading off into distant hand-drawn backdrops.
The colours are so vibrant, they seem to bleed from the screen, the inspired use of primary hues and shadow lines crafting scenes of almost expressionistic beauty. Waterfalls cascade, lava bursts from volcanic craters, eerie plants with lengthy fronds wave in the breeze.
The visuals can be frustratingly misleading at times, too, with an uncertainty between harmless background objects and dangerous barriers. Sometimes, there is just too much going on – like a platforming version of a Terry Gilliam movie. It can all be overwhelming.
But Rayman Origins has moments of absolute genre mastery and an oddball style of its own. It is weird to pitch this throwback against the likes of Skyward Sword, Uncharted and Skyrim, but it will provide a lot of pleasure – especially for those who'll get the chance to sample its four-player co-op mode, allowing a whole bunch of mates to take on levels together, shouting instructions and dividing tasks.
Even this – the idea of uniting gamers in front of a single screen – is an anachronism in our age of broadband connectivity. But again, it reminds us of the fun we used to have before online multiplayer, 3D visuals and Hollywood aspirations.
Michel Ancel, one of the great game designers, has come home. We're all welcome to visit. We should all make the trip.
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Don't believe the hype"
Thank goodness I only rented this hogwash of a game. After doing my research and being wowed by all the tremendous scores I thought for sure I'd wind up buying it after giving it a shot. How wrong was I! Let me first start by agreeing that yes, many of the major platforming icons don't make a lot of sense. Sonic is a blue super-fast hedgehog. Mario is a plumber chasing after a princess, stomping mushrooms, and generally being odd. But while Mario, and to some extent Sonic, have a charmingly childish quality to them, Rayman is so far out in left field that it's utterly absurd. And not in a compelling or interesting way. The enemies, the characters, the settings, all seem like they're just thrown together. There is no cohesion, just a bunch of weird... things... whatever they are... making weird noises and generally getting in the way. And the story (if you could call it such) is much the same. There's something going on with a crotchety old lady and some bats (its the opening intro, so you'll forgive me if I don't credit that as being a spoiler) and then it degenerates into... well, I don't know really. Other platformers, even bizarre ones, usually let you get at least a sense of what's going. Not Rayman apparently. I'm running around jumping on things and slapping things and saving weird things... why? I don't know why, and therefore I don't know why I care, and therefore I don't care. None of this would be so bad if it were actually fun to play, but alas, the much lauded game play that I read all about is non existent too. Rayman feels slow and unwieldy, and controlling him is never natural or intuitive. It feels like I'm constantly struggling to get him to keep up with where I want/need him to be, and while some levels move at a fairly quick pace, Rayman always feels like he's as slow as molasses in comparison. It's downright bizarre, like fighting with lag even though there is none. He's just not responsive. Certain moves and jumps can't be aborted, bouncing pads are often unidirectional, and you just don't feel in control. I certainly haven't yet. Yeah sure, the artwork is nifty, the graphics are fine (for what it is) but the lack of any real depth of game play, character, or story, really betrays this games psn-release beginnings, and it should've stayed this way. I'm hard pressed to justify laying out $7 for the rental. I could see shelling out $15 for a psn download. But $50 + for a retail disc...not a chance. Save your money. (Btw, its a generous 4 because metacritic doesn't allow point values, and its terrible but not atrocious so I couldn't justify giving it a three. But in reality, funky artwork really is nothing to be too proud off. 3.5 would be more like it but well...)
Whether if it's single player, multi-player, anything will do!
40 to 100 Hours
The Bottom Line:
Gaming has their favorite mascots in several different categories. Gaming's favorite plumber Mario, favorite speed demon Sonic, and favorite limbless hero Rayman. Now we all know Sonic was dumped down when Sonic Heroes came into the scene, then returned to his roots when Sonic Generations came, something similar happened with Rayman. He had a good start with the original, an then came 2 which spawned ridiculously amounts of ports, slightly dumped down but fun 3, then came.... Rabbids.... who eventually took Rayman's spotlight. But now he's back to his roots in Origins and I assure you, you will not be dissappointed. Now the plot while kinda stupid, makes sense. Rayman and his friends are sleeping, and their snoring disturbs their neighbors, the Livid Dead, so a old hag sends a bunch of bad guys to take over the Glade of Dreams. A little extreme for a little noise violation but it's true. Now the visuals are amazing, probably the best I've seen on this genre. Now unlike 2 and 3 which are 3D platformers, this goes back to Rayman 1, the 2D platformer. There are also R-Type styled shooter levels by riding on mosquitoes' backs. There are also unlockable characters, although there just color changes of the original animated models of the characters, it's better than playing as plain Rayman, Globox and two Teensies. Plus, your getting the same game as PS3 and 360. If you're a Rayman fan, this will be great if your tired of countless ports Rayman 2 or the Raving Rabbids. If your a gamer, this will be great if your really looking for that nostalgic feeling of those early 2D side-scrollers. If your a Wii owner, this game will replace all your crappy 3rd party games. And if your, well, anyone on the planet, Rayman Origins is a perfect buy, whether if it's single player, multi-player, anything will do.
The Origin of FANTASTIC
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
Side-scrolling adventure games used to be a dime-a-dozen. The good ole NES, GENESIS and SNES had more than their fair share of em. But then 3D games got popular and (some) developers thought to themselves, "Who cares if the games we turn out are crap. At least the graphics are top-notch!" Let me tell ya who cares: consumers care.
For a long time running developers have invested too much emphasis on top-notch graphics and sound effects in video games. It is so refreshing to see a developer go back to the origin of earlier games and recycle ways to make the gaming experience fun again. Rayman: Origins does that and more.
Similar to what Donkey Kong Country Returns did for side-scrollers last Christmas (2010), the new installment of Rayman works wonders now. It takes everything you like about the Rayman series and adds lush backgrounds, fun and frustrating levels and a massive amount of playable characters to throw around at your disposal.
The level designs are gorgeous. The layering and contrast between each world is nothing short of breathtaking. (This is a very solid achievement coming from the Wii nowadays...) Varying degrees of difficulty will make gamer's of all ages pleased. Some younger gamer's may have to ask their parents or friends to help them through certain parts of this game once things really get going too...
You have exceeded my expectations coming into 2012 with more than just a shiny new Zelda game for Wii... My hat's off to you, Ubisoft. Thanks!