Michael Leparc On September 24, 2013 at 10:04 am

Rayman Legends -image50Rayman had a bit of a coming out party a couple years ago with Origins, a title that arguably slipped under the radar but was a smash hit critically and claimed a stake in the pantheon of 2D platforming history. So it was only natural that its sequel, Rayman Legends, would garner more attention this time around. Of course adding to the intrigue was the development drama surrounding Ubisoft’s decisions to first make it a Wii U exclusive and then reverse course into a multiplatform release just when the game was about to come out. Fortunately this just gave the developers added time to pad out what is simply an incredible offering of some of the best platforming you’ll find this generation.

Once again, our armless and legless protagonist and his buddies, Globox and the teensies are caught sleeping on the job until finally they are awakened by Murfy (of Rayman 2 fame, if that’s the right word), who informs them that the nightmares have run amok again, this time resulting in the dark teensies kidnapping the 10 princesses of the land as well as the several of the other teensies.

You might be thinking this is just a damsel in distress trope (and certainly awareness of that has been heightened lately), and maybe it is, but each of the princesses is actually her own unlockable character once rescued, unlike the nymphs in Origins, who merely serve to unlock your abilities one by one. In Legends, on other hand, all of your abilities are at your disposal from the beginning, which is a plus. Still, that also means that each character plays the same so your preference in hero is purely an aesthetic choice. Not that it’s a problem when they’ve nailed the controls so perfectly. Why mess with a good thing?

This puts the focus of gameplay squarely on the level design, which honestly is where it should be as the game simply oozes polish and originality, boasting over 120 levels in all, plus 40 remastered levels from Origins, which are opened up by lucky tickets you collect and scratch off along the way. Sure, you’ll have your typical lush forest environments and castles and dungeons (which are still impeccably executed) , but sprinkled in is not just some predictable lava or ice stage but a whole Day of the Dead and luchador themed world, for instance, with cleverly placed secrets and lums that stretch your skill. Well-spaced checkpoints are forgiving and allow you the freedom to challenge yourself and experiment without costing you too much progress. The wind tunnel segments are a blast and the added ability to fire flying fists at your enemies during specified times makes for an improvement over the on rails shooting experience in the last game. Boss battles occur in three stages and provide a few twists and humorous touches to sequences you may have seen many times before as a platforming veteran. Following them are rhythmically themed levels that can’t help but make you smile as they riff off of classic songs like “Black Betty” and “Eye of the Tiger.” I really enjoyed these levels the most and they are a great reward for clearing each milestone. Once you get far enough into the game, you’ll even revisit levels for special invasion versions, which have a timed goal for rescuing teensies. And if all that weren’t enough, there’s even a daily and weekly timed challenges to participate in to collect more lums, based upon your standings in a worldwide leaderboard. These challenges are opened up by your “awesomeness” rating, which is determined by your achievements. Of course local multiplayer co-op is back (where’s the online?), and if you get tired of that, there’s a new soccer mode called Kung Foot which is a hoot.

Where Rayman Legends strays from the path a bit is in the parts of the game that were clearly devised to take advantage of the Wii U gamepad for the original exclusivity plans. You know when they occur because Murfy will appear on the screen and tap in. Basically he is there to assist you on your path through the level, moving platforms, cutting ropes, activating mechanisms and slicing through destructible parts of the levels. Unfortunately in the PS3 and 360 versions of the game, you cannot direct his assistance with the same level of precision as you can on the Wii U’s touchscreen. This makes for some frustrating deaths when he chooses the wrong platform to manipulate, particularly during the sessions where you are racing a wall of fire and can only hope you timed your alternating jump and Murfy button presses correctly so that he moves everything in the proper order. In the sections where you have more time, it’s mostly annoying when trying to access the secret parts of the stage. It would have been nice if we could nudge the little guy to the correct spot with the right thumbstick instead of trying to figure out how close to the edge to stand before he’ll switch to match your intentions.

It’s not enough to derail the rest of the game though, and you’ll get used to its quirks eventually. Rayman Legends boasts the same fantastic engine of its predecessor, running on all the home systems at a crisp 1080p and 60 frames a second, continuing to be a paragon of 2D visuals in this generation. The soundtrack has some memorable tunes of its own besides the aforementioned rhythm based tributes. You can tell a lot of love was put into the art of this game. Even the reskins of each princess has its great little details. Nothing feels overlooked or placed haphazardly. You could tell the developers were passionate about this project as they struggled with not being able to share it with the world when they originally planned. Instead they focused their energy on putting even more content into the game, turning what was already a gem of a game into an embarrassment of riches. If you love platformers, you owe it to yourself to get Rayman Legends and play the hell out of it.


The bulk of the platforming is perfect, as you constantly mix in all your abilities Plenty of challenge depending how far you want to go. Only the way Murfy plays without a touchscreen and the lack of online co-op detracts from this.


This is the game you point to in order to prove that 2D in this generation can be just as beautiful as anything else.


While the rhythm sections steal the show, your ears will be happy throughout.


The Wii U version may be the definitive one, but Rayman Legends is a must buy on any platform.

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