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Rayman Legends
Rayman Legends
Published by Mable
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Rayman Legends

Rayman Legends
Platform: Wii U
Developer: Ubisoft
Genre: Platformer

There are games that appear every now and then that may wow you. You start them up, and within the first few levels you’re already thinking to yourself ‘Yes! THIS is a game!’ and from there on in it only gets better, and the love affair grows stronger until it is all consuming. Games which when ended leave you feeling wowed, flawed, and somewhat depressed at the lack of new content. If a game that has left you feeling this way has gone the extra mile you might count yourself very lucky, as there still may be enjoyment in replaying the levels, multiplayer gaming, or DLC. If you are as incredibly lucky as I am, the game might even get a sequel, and if fortune has truly smiled on you, that sequel might also have you thinking to yourself ‘Yes! THIS is a game!’

Rayman Origins, released back in 2011, was one of those games, for me personally. I had no expectations, and came out more than gratified with the experience. It easily wall-ran its way in to my top ten games of all time, and it was with unmeasurable eagerness that I awaited a sequel. This has been a painful experience for me – the delay for the Wii U version has led to a seven month wait for the game. Its existence was a large reason I bought a Wii U on launch, and while the challenge app was a nice gesture to compensate, it was by no means a substitute.

Those who have played the challenge app or Rayman Origins know a lot of what to expect. It’s a 2D side scrolling platformer with amazing flow, and beautifully designed levels that set it apart from others in the genre. The general controls are standard – with run, punch, wall run, gliding, slamming and ducking all playing exactly the same as they did in Origins. In a way; if not for the upgraded art style, graphics, and a few little touches you can almost think of Rayman Legends as a very large expansion pack for Origins. So before even continuing with the review, if you like me, loved the absolute pants off of Rayman Origins, walking past Rayman Legends is highly not advisable. If you like platformers, then the same advice goes to you. Hell if you like gaming, then you should probably pick this one up – as the blend of simple, fun, and murderous challenge means there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Story wise Rayman Legends is no big winner. The plot consists of some sort of evil appearing so bad things happen and who cares lets play the game. Despite the story being of no importance, the cut scenes that are very few and far between are still funny and charming, if unnecessary. You can get the general idea that some guys are bad, some are good and something about collecting lums. Rayman Legends really doesn’t need a good story line, but the more I write about it I wonder if the whimsical fun of not having one adds to the feel of the game, or if it could have gone that extra step up if a brilliant story was there to go along with the amazing gameplay and art.

Now unfortunately there are some let downs in this new iteration of Rayman, and though none make the game ‘bad’ by any means, it would be amiss to not mention them. Comparatively to most platformers Rayman Legends main story mode is quite short. As you play through this mode you have to collect teensies from other levels to unlock continuation, and as long as you do a half decent job of this along the way you’ll rarely find yourself having to go back to pick up the odd few. I think this method was an attempt at slowing a player down and padding out the game a little, or perhaps just holding someone who isn’t ready back from the more challenging levels. Either way for a seasoned player it won’t make the game any longer.

Although main story mode is a bit short there are lots of other things to do in the game, with nearly every main level getting a little challenge level attached to it, some of which are viciously difficult. The problem with this is that these levels really only cater to those who are good at Rayman, and will be completely inaccessible to some younger and/or less skilled players. This is where Origins has the advantage over Legends – I appreciated the fact that I could play the former with anyone of any gaming experience. But with Legends, the challenge levels were good additions for me to strive for, but shifts to an uneven balance of difficulty.

"Oh," but you might cry, "What about the GamePad levels where you control the flying bug dude, aren’t they for everyone!" – but I severely disagree. The Murphy levels, which really make the Wii U version shine, utilise the touch screen on the GamePad in something that is fairly reminiscent of current phone and tablet games. You change the environment to allow safe passage for another player or if you couldn’t wrangle any friends in to play with you, a non-playable character. This may be moving blocks to stand on, cutting ropes to swing from, moving obstacles, or poking baddies in the eyeball. You can also help the collection of lums making it easier to get things like coins, and generally making more lums appear than would usually exist. Personally I find the traditional “running” style of Rayman more fun than this new style, but I refuse to write it off as ‘easy’ or simply a ‘support’ mode.

There are a few levels every world in which using Murphy is mandatory. If you’re playing by yourself you will be provided with a computer controlled character that you need to protect and guide through the level, but I warn you he fears nothing and cares not for lums nor teensie. Often I felt as though they had programmed some kind of jerk AI specifically for this character as he’d purposefully jump over where I’d moved something, or just decide not to collect a lum that was in his path. These levels are designed to be played as a team, and for some you will need two quite competent players to make it through. With the GamePad not supporting multi-touch, you’ve got one finger to move things at a time, and those times can be hectic, and not at all necessarily for players of less skill. What these levels do achieve brilliantly is co-operative multiplayer which has you and your partner working together in amazing synchronisation. There is a lot of trust that goes in to blindly jumping and hoping they’re going to move that platform in time, and I think a lot of relationships will be put to the test while exploring this new mode.

The GamePad is really well utilised throughout the game for other things than being a flying bug. Notifications will appear when you’ve unlocked levels, characters or creatures, and a simple touch will take you straight to them rather than having to backtrack through the gallery-like menus. You can also access the character change screen, as well as unlockables and challenges just from a simple touch. I feel like without this peripheral going all the way through the menus would become frustrating quickly, so that, paired with Murphy and the ability to play off-screen on the GamePad make the Wii U version of Legends a clear winner.

Another disappointment with Rayman Legends is that the challenges weren’t as fresh or new as the ones found in the original game, Origins. Legends allows you to unlock levels from Origins to play through with the new play style and artistic direction, which is a nice touch. Some of these levels are just a hard as they were in the original game, and on a more personal note my favourite challenges from the previous games. To be completely honest, however, these do feel like a way to artificially pad out the game – but it does give a good sampler of what made Origins such a great game in and of itself.

Origins levels are not the only things that you can unlock in this game, with a sort of scratchy mini game that you can access by collecting enough lums in main levels. This game utilises the GamePad in a rather gimmicky yet fun scratch mode that reveals which prize you have gained. The prizes can be teensies, (to help you unlock more levels), lums (for more characters), the aforementioned Origins levels as well as creatures. Creatures are a weird addition to the game as they sort of just hang out in a gallery and produce new lums every day. They don’t seem to have anything to do with, well anything, but maybe there is a bonus for collecting them all. They feel like a sort of inside joke within the development team, with their types ranging from ‘pig’, to ‘balloon’, to my favourite ‘toast’ and more of the charming Rayman humour comes through. It’s hard to say at this point if they’re just there to give you more to unlock or if collecting all these weird ‘creatures’ will pay off in the end.

One last thing I’d like to devote a whole paragraph to is something of another in joke, or perhaps just the super strong French desire to put Soccer or Football in to everything they can. A mini game accessible from the main menu called Kung-Foot is quite possibly the best stupid fun you will ever have. The game is a sort of soccer mini game that allows you to chose teams of 3 and try to kick a ball in to the other teams goal. I’m sure there’s some skill to it, but it feels like pure ridiculousness and it never ceases to be quite hilarious. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will lose friends, but I promise you it will all be worth it when you reign victorious at Kung-Foot.

So Rayman Legends is great. There are a few let downs, and some of it does feel reused from Origins, or blatantly is, but it’s still great. There are definitely some things they could have done better, online multiplayer outside of challenges for one, or simply more levels but it’s still one of the most fun games I’ve played this year. If you can it’s well worth a purchase, especially on the Wii U as the GamePad really makes the game sing, and if you’re like me, you’re always looking for something new that’s worth playing on your new Nintendo console. So do yourself and everyone else a favour, and buy this game. You’ll have a lot of fun playing it, and we’ll hopefully get a sequel, as well as more fantastic third party support for the Wii U. Just like this.
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