After what many considered a pointless delay, seeing as how the game had already gone gold at the beginning of the year, Rayman Legends has finally been released. The game is no longer a Wii U exclusive, but that means it’s available to an even wider array of people who should thoroughly enjoy this excellent platformer.
What Is It?
For those unfamiliar with Rayman, he’s just some creature without any limbs that is a great friend to the Teensies, a bunch of blue things that are literally insane and just like the members of the Mushroom Kingdom, people are reliant on him to save the day. He has a few friends, mainly Globox (a weird-looking frog thing) and Murfy (a fairy that smiles all the time), and judging from their mannerisms in the game, they’re completely insane.
There really isn’t much in terms of story here, but like its predecessor Rayman Origins, it’s the diverse sidescrolling gameplay that blends the feeling of the game being both unique and familiar, thus creating an entertaining experience.
Why Should I Care?
Those who have enjoyed any sort of sidescrolling platformer should feel right at home with Rayman Legends. It has a finely tuned old-school feel when you first start the game, limiting Rayman to the abilities of running, jumping, punching, and pulling stuff out of the ground ala Super Mario Bros. 2. In addition to that, while there aren’t any visible map diagrams or blueprints anywhere on the screen, the game takes a page out of Metroid and Castlevania by throwing a bunch of secret areas in every level that normally hide a troubled Teensie. Teensies in every level are like the big coins in the sidescrolling Super Mario games; aside from opening doors and satisfying completionists, they don’t do anything all that special, but they serve as a good enough reason to revisit courses to add to the replay value.
The joy in the game is in its pacing and mixing things up to make every level seem different from the last. While they’re probably not all going to be classics to everybody, they do a great job of feeling fresh. The first few forest levels, like most other sidescrolling titles, are sort of a tutorial for those who need to be refreshed with platforming basics.
You’ll have regular levels where you just go from left-to-right avoiding obstacles, and then there are more action-based levels that require exceptional hand-eye coordination and reflexes in order to escape the courses unscathed.
There are even levels reminiscent of sidescrolling shooters like R-Type that require Rayman (or whomever else you’re using) to shoot the hell out of everything in your path to the finish.
My favorite levels are the musical levels that require the player to jump and punch their way following a specific beat—one of the more awesome ones is a level featuring a mariachi version of Eye of the Tiger. It gives an enjoyable meaning to “slapping the bass.”
Also standing out are the game’s boss fights, which feel really old-school in the nostalgic sense where they take up half the screen, giving Rayman little room to roam.
Some are simpler than others. One of the first bosses, for example, requires Rayman to shoot the heck out of it as it comes in and out of frame while it spits fireballs at you. Eventually, they get a little crazy. There’s this other boss fight that puts you in an actual ring against a luchador with an audience cheering and jeering as if it were a full pay-per-view feature.
As stated before, the game was initially a Wii U exclusive, and the game does a fine job at taking advantage of the GamePad’s features, like off-TV play. Some of the levels in the game take Rayman out of the equation, tagging his friend Globox. When this happens, the game takes you out of the on-screen action and moves it to the GamePad, where you primary control goes to Rayman’s fairy friend Murfy. Murfy’s job is to manipulate the course using the touch screen in order to create a path for Globox, whom the AI uses when you’re not playing cooperatively.
In these Murfy stages, players will move platforms, flip switches, and cut the ropes off suspending platforms to open up the course for Globox. Players can also tickle enemies in Globox’s way, making them more vulnerable for an attack. On top of this, the game also takes advantage of the GamePad’s gyrosensor using it as sort of a steering wheel to revolve certain platforms Globox is on. The impressive thing here is that the AI surprisingly does a good job of controlling Globox. More often than not, if or when Globox dies, it’ll usually be the player’s fault.
On the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, the Murfy/Globox levels don’t use any motion-based controls, and they’re replaced with button-sensitive mechanics. While they aren’t as easy the Wii U controls, they’re still responsive. If anything, it adds some relative challenge to the game.
When it comes to challenge, though, it’s at a good enough level where newcomers won’t be scared away, while old-school gamers can appreciate both the AI and level design.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
The average gamer will spend at least 10 hours getting through the main story but can spend a lot more than 15 hours when playing around with the extras the game offers, and there’s a lot of extra stuff to do in the game.
Extras come in the form of challenges and levels that come out every week for free with online leaderboards to boot. All of these are welcome additions, and considering the game’s main content constantly gets better as you progress make the replay value almost limitless. Throw in the fact that the game looks absolutely beautiful and features a fantastic soundtrack, and it really puts the game over the top.
Does that make it worth the money? Definitely. $60 is a lot for a platformer, but the game features a lot of content that make it well worth the price of admission. Then again, all sorts of publications said that about Rayman Origins, and people eventually picked it up for $10 a month or two after its release. The fact that it’s been released between Madden and Grand Theft Auto V doesn’t spell good news either.
Either way, Rayman Legends is a good purchase for PS3 and Xbox 360 owners looking for something less chaotic yet fun to play, and it’s the superb third party Wii U title that the console desperately needs. Unless there’s still some bad blood between the gamer community and Ubisoft for the delay, Rayman Legends definitely deserves a look.