Rayman continues his winning streak with, what is arguably, the platforming highlight of 2013.
A lot of genres seem to die in gaming. The amount of commentators who discuss the death of the RPG and Point and Click could fill the ocean, but that’s an argument for another time. The important thing is that, whilst you could argue the 2D platformer wasn’t aging especially well, Rayman Origins came along in 2011 and proved that assumption wrong.
It was playful, beautiful and engaging in a way that platforming hadn’t been for some time. Legends continues this trend with a bag of increasingly creative surprises that never fail to delight.
The plot is more of an excuse than anything else, seeing Rayman and friends fall asleep for a hundred years. They awake to find the world of the Teenies invaded by nightmares and go out to set things right. Rayman, Glowbox and the Teenies return as playable characters, with Barbarian lady Barbara also joining the fray.
"Murphy is capable of indirectly affecting the environment. He can shift platforms, cut ropes and tickle enemies with the press of a button."
There are plenty of cosmetic options to choose from outside of these main characters, and they all look fantastic. The Ubi Art Framework returns from Rayman Origins, providing beautiful and flowing designs throughout.
This beautiful art style is most obviously present in the level design. Gameplay mechanics are always fairly simple, meaning creative levels are the only real respite from monotonous gameplay. Legends is able to deliver these engaging levels effortlessly though, with gorgeous castles, swamps and deserts demanding your attention. They play as well as they look too, with intricate jumps and satisfying escapes showing off 2D platforming masters at the height of their creative powers.
Some sections display new ideas for the series, courtesy of the return of Murphy the fairy from Rayman 2. Murphy is capable of indirectly affecting the environment. He can shift platforms, cut ropes and tickle enemies with the press of a button. It sounds simplistic, but timing becomes essential in using Murphy effectively, and he allows for some complex obstacle and puzzle solutions. Players on Vita and Wii U can also manually control Murphy’s actions via the touch screen. We tested the Xbox 360 version and, though the mechanic was obviously designed for motion controls, Murphy is equally fun to use with a touch screen or a normal controller.
"Do you know what's better than one person playing Rayman Legends? Four people playing at the same time. "
There is certainly a quality of level design that is commendable, but it’s more impressive that this standard never lets up. There are nearly a hundred and fifty levels to plough through, and each one also has a remixed version with alternate enemies and layouts. You also have a tonne of fun surprises thrown around elsewhere.
You can unlock a variety of remixed stages from Rayman Origins for the nostalgic amongst you, and cool mini-games constantly keep you on your toes. One stage has you demolishing a castle in time to a thundering rock score, whilst another optional stage has you jumping and smacking footballs into opposing goals with your friends. Rayman Legends never runs out of surprises, and it is one of the things that makes it so exciting to play.
Do you know what’s better than one person playing Rayman Legends? Four people playing at the same time. Local co-op returns from Origins and, if you’re playing on the Wii U, you can even bring in a fifth player on the Gamepad. The levels hold up regardless of how many people are playing, and co-op quickly makes the action more frantic and more enjoyable.
"A part of me misses the trippy musical levels and cooky landscapes of Origins, but Legends has made me smile more often than any other game this year, and there is a lot to be said for that."
The lack of online co-op is disappointing, as this was one of the more glaring omissions from Rayman Origins. Still, this a small absence when the game works so well in local multiplayer. Needless to say, Rayman Legends does a fine job of continuing the long standing tradition of couch co-op.
Even when you and your friends feel you have exhausted all of Legends’ bounty, challenge mode continues to offer fresh content. Offering two daily and weekly challenges for you to accomplish online, you compete for the best scores on the leaderboards. They’re oddly addictive prospects, and the challenges are just as addictive as the main game. If they are truly able to keep new challenges coming in so regularly, Legends suddenly has even more longevity than it did before.
Rayman Legends certainly makes more sense than Origins. The level hubs with painting portals will make sense to anyone who has played Mario 64, and the more familiar level settings will sit better with the majority. A part of me misses the trippy musical levels and cooky landscapes of Origins, but Legends has made me smile more often than any other game this year, and there is a lot to be said for that. I’d love to wax lyrical about Rayman Legends and its place in the gaming canon, but it is not going to be remembered as a revolutionary moment in gaming. What it will be remembered as is the best platformer of 2013. If you like fun, you should go buy it.
This game was reviewed on Xbox 360.
Fantastic level design, Lots of content, Engaging presentation, Local co-op is a blast, Full of surprises
May be too simplistic for some, No online co-op
Rayman continues to show the 2D platformer is still relevant and somehow improves upon the gameplay of the amazing Rayman Origins