Title: Rayman Legends
System(s): Wii U (Also available on PS3, Xbox 360, Vita, PC)
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Ubisoft (Ubisoft Montpellier)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone 10+” for Cartoon Violence and Comic Mischief
Rayman Legends has an elaborate history. Originally a Wii U exclusive, it was transformed into a multiplatform game due to Ubisoft’s concerns over how well it would sell as an exclusive. Then, rather than release the Wii U version early and the PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Vita versions later, all versions were pushed back. The company was on the receiving end of quite a bit of ire for this decision, but after playing the finished product, I can say it was worth it. While Rayman Legends might have been “good”, had it met its original Wii U release date, the extra time has providing so many more features and levels, resulting in something glorious.
So, what have you been up to the last 100 years?
You know, nothing much. Just sleeping. Yes, sleeping. Our heroes from Rayman Origins, Rayman, Globox and the Teensies, have been asleep for a century. Lazy bums.
As a result, nightmares have started increasing. The Bubble Dreamer couldn’t stand by and watch the beautiful worlds and dreams get tainted, so he sent Murphy to wake the quartet up. They had work to do, after all. There are Darktoons everywhere, Lums and Teensies have been captured and even the Magician is back and up to his old tricks.
Now that the group of heroes is awake, they have to rescue 700 captured Teensies, scattered throughout the multitude of levels contained within Rayman Legends. Don’t worry though, as there’ll still be time for tending collected creatures, playing Kung Foot with friends and revisiting 40 Rayman Origins levels.
Hop into some paintings, and have some fun!
Here’s how a Rayman Legends area works. A painting has a number of paintings inside of it, each corresponding to a level, and typically has one, or maybe even two, locked doors with extra characters hidden inside. Rescuing these characters usually leads to more levels being unlocked, so it’s always worth the trouble. Rescuing Teensies from levels unlocks new paintings, which means more levels. At the end of one group of levels, there’ll be one level where the player must chase a magician Teensie that has taken a female Teensie hostage, then fight a boss fight against some kind of monster. After the boss is beaten, a musical level opens up to enjoy.
Once you’re in a painting, you don’t really know how a level will proceed. Most Rayman Legends levels are typical platformers, but just when I thought I had a grasp on what I’d be doing, the formula would shift. In a quicksand level, I was racing through buildings and constructs that were being sucked into sand, hoping not to get crushed or pulled under, while keeping up with the Magician. In another, I had to collect three Teensies within one minute and 20 seconds to unlock a new character. For a boss fight, a wizard Teensie gave my character magic, so she could face a dragon on equal footing. There was this one time, where I transformed into a duck. Yes, my character turned into a duck, it made perfect sense, and I enjoyed every moment of that level.
Of course, I loved Rayman Legends musical levels most of all. I almost wanted more, but I see the genius of their placement within the game. They’re one of the best parts of the adventure, and you have to earn them. Beat the boss and then, then you get the honor of running, jumping and smacking in time with the music. They’re perfectly timed and executed, and had a way of making me smile as I played.
I have to say that the Wii U’s Murphy levels are a highlight as well. These brief excursions, which usually pop up twice per area, require players to look at the touch screen and make Murphy interact with the environment so Globox can complete a level. They’re more challenging than the typical Rayman Legends level, because players don’t really have direct control over what is happening. Unless I made sure Murphy blocked areas at the right time, or moved obstacles and items, Globox might miss Teensies in need of rescuing or Lums. Not to mention it can get to be quite stressful, because if something went wrong, I couldn’t recover by taking control of Globox to save the day. I had to be sure that yes, each rope I cut really did need to be cut, platforms were moved and rooms were rotated. I think I’m still having nightmares about some Murphy levels where a wall of fire is forcing Globox and Murphy to always, constantly be running forward.
That isn’t even getting into the extras, the other little details that make Rayman Legends special. The slapstick comedy segments involving the Magician are glorious. The character designs and worlds are remarkably detailed. Even the extra collectibles are quite an incentive to keep pushing forward and replaying levels. Kung Foot is quite fun with friends. Plus, the Challenges mode, which is already providing daily and weekly challenges, provided plenty of incentive to turn on my Wii U every day.
Honestly, the only qualm I have about Rayman Legends is that there are a lot of palette swap characters, rather than original characters. You’ll see more alternate versions of Rayman, Teensies, Globox and warrior girls than you can imagine. It’s a minor complaint though, as there’s at least enough different character types for each player to be someone different and it’s not like Rayman Legends is a game that needs a lot of diversity. The levels are providing the most variety, and that’s most important.
Truly, Rayman Legends is legendary
I know it’s trite to say, but Rayman Legends is already a legend. This is a remarkable platform that is so beautiful, robust and perfectly designed that it is impossible to find fault with it. It has so much to offer any player. Whether they’re facing the adventure alone or with friends, or intend to acquire every collectible or not, they will love this game. It’s perfect for all audiences, all skill levels, and is one of the best platformers I have ever played. As wonderful as Rayman Origins was, Rayman Legends elevates the series to a whole new level.