Michael Leparc On April 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Rayman Origins PS Vita ScreenshotWhat’s a handheld without a good platformer? As Nintendo found out with its 3DS, until a flagship Mario platformer was finally released, not much. So here comes Rayman to save the day in the Vita’s launch window, care of Ubisoft.

Rayman Origins came out to lots of critical acclaim last fall in the home console front, but can that translate to success on the small screen? Considering how faithful this port is, there is no reason why not.

There’s a story to Rayman Origins, but I couldn’t make much sense of it from the opening cutscene, not that it really matters. It appears you have to rescue the so-called Glade of Dreams from some cranky old folks who have released dark monsters and trapped the powerful electoons in order to disrupt everyone’s noisy snoring. Run of the mill stuff really, but the whimsical universe has its own charm and feel that makes it feel fresh.

Where the game really has it all together and makes perfect sense is in its rock solid gameplay. While I remember playing the first Rayman back on PC, I was neither that impressed nor familiarized with how it played. Fast forward to 2012, and what we have here is a platformer with responsive and capable controls, smooth physics, and an assortment of abilities which are combined to maximum use in each level, whether to pass through a first time or to unlock all the collectable secrets later on (which give you access to new characters and other goodies, tons of replay value here!). The game takes the typical approach of teaching you a new move in each zone as you save each nymph by chasing them through an introductory level, slowly building up your repertoire until you can scale, smash, or swim past any obstacle thrown at you. The wall running ability is certainly the coolest and allows for the most interesting level design, in my opinion.

There are also side scrolling shooter segments which are a nice break from the platforming. A couple of the interesting twists in that are the ability to suck up and shoot back enemies for a wider swath of destruction as well as the fact that your shots will rebound off of walls at certain angles which you can use to destroy enemies you otherwise can’t reach with horizontally travelling bullets. Unfortunately, unlike its console cousins, the Vita version of the game has no co-op mode. Considering that in the original it was a 4-way, local only mode, this is perhaps to be expected, but it would have been nice to sneak in a little net play in these games. Oh well, maybe next time.

One thing that catches everyone’s eye about Rayman Origins – particularly on the big screen – is the gorgeous, hand drawn and animated 2D art. It’s definitely among the best seen in any game and feels like watching a real cartoon before your eyes. You don’t notice it as sprites, and it’s not remotely antiquated sitting next to all the 3D stuff out there. It’s next generation in its own right. Does that carry over to the Vita? Absolutely. The game’s bright colors and saturation is the perfect showcase for the screen Sony put in this thing. The only downside, like for most handheld platformers, is the fact that everything had to be shrunk to fit in order to avoid cropping out key parts of a level like where to jump. It does feel a little miniaturized at first, but you adjust to it, and it was necessary to make it play equivalent to the original version. Fortunately if you really want to see the details of the art, it’s still running at a full level of detail. All you have to do is pinch zoom the touchscreen to see all of its glory, and it will hold there until you press the triangle button to reset it. The game actually is still quite playable zoomed in a fair amount, so you might want to play around with it at first.

Sound wise, the game is almost disgustingly cute and silly, particularly in the way the electoons celebrate your rescuing them. Rayman’s death animation and bubble popping sound is so funny it’s hard to get frustrated by failing a treasure chest chase for the billionth time. The music makes good use of instruments typically overlooked in video games and includes some humorous chanting at times. All in all it’s as fresh as the rest of the game to me, but then I haven’t played a Rayman game in a long time.

I would say that if you don’t already own the game on your console or PC, and don’t think you’ll miss the co-op too much, then grab Rayman Origins on your Vita. The episodic levels make it an easy game to pick up and put down, and it has a ton of replayability in all the collecting you can do. It’s a bit crazy to think about when the Vita is so powerful on a 3D level, but this is a system seller to me and I’m glad to have the game with me on the go. As a plus, it seems to use a lot less battery than the 3D games, too! Definite buy for me.


The new pinnacle of 2D platforming perfection or at least on par with Mario. Refined to an art form. Just missing the co-op.


This would get a 10 if it weren’t for the fact they had to be shrunk a little on the Vita screen. Zoom in and see it in all its glory though!


Cutesy, funny, cartoony. Everything a Rayman soundtrack should be.


You won’t be disappointed. If not on the Vita, get it on another platform.

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