While I love the Mario platforming series, with my favorite game of all time being Super Mario Galaxy 2, I think it’s time we take a look at one of the platforming genre’s most underrated heroes, Rayman. He hasn’t had as much glory as Mario has had, but Rayman does have a couple of good games under his belt. He originally started on the PS1 and Saturn, with a 2D platformer that has aged pretty well, but has some incredibly HARD levels. The second game was a 3D platformer, but I remember I didn’t like it as much, but that is because I found out I was doing something wrong, so in the future I want to try it out again. The third platforming game was solid, but it got boring after a while, and there was a set pattern that was the same in every level, but it still comes recommended. I guess it was very popular, because it got an HD remake recently. From that point on, it kind of went downhill when those annoying Rabbid characters appeared. Yeah, I know they are pretty funny, but when I bought Rayman Raving Rabbids, I was expecting Rayman to go through another platforming game where he fights off an army of rabbids, NOT a bunch of mini-games that get frustrating and boring after an hour. After that, his character just got pushed to the side in favor of the more popular Rabbids. Thankfully, the creator of Rayman and Beyond Good and Evil decided to bring him back to his roots and slap him into a side-scrolling platformer. That is the focus of today’s review, Rayman Origins.
The story is, well, non-existent, but has a very simple set-up. Rayman and his best friend Globox are chilling out with two teensy characters and an old guy named the Bubble Dreamer at the Snoring Tree. However, their snoring and chilling-outness are annoying the heck out of some old granny from the Land of the Living Dead. Out of her annoyance, she sends a bunch of horrific creatures and the Darktoons up into the world to kidnap little creatures called the Electoons and the Nymphs who created the land. This results in the Bubble Dreamer going bonkers, going into a coma, and having nightmares, all of which turn the kings of the vast Rayman world into monsters. It is up to Rayman and his friends to save the world! There are no plot twists, “real” bad guys who show up at the end of the game and are the true evil, and the other clichés you would see in a lot of games. This really isn’t an origin story of where Rayman came from, and is more along the lines of how he got started when he was first shown in the gaming world.
The gameplay is of a beautiful 2D side-scrolling platformer where you go through multiple different worlds, jumping and punching evil goons and collecting the little fairies and electoons who have been captured. Throughout the level, you will be running, jumping, shrinking, punching, and flying across some very well-executed levels, making sure you don’t get hit. It’s one-hit-kills unless you can find a heart. You can play these levels with up to four people, and I will say this right here, 2 players in each level is enough. I know developers want more the merrier, but along with Ratchet and Clank: All-4-One and New Super Mario Brothers Wii, 4 players at once can get chaotic when these levels can be very time-specific. If you miss a platform by a split second, you will fall and die! This game can get really hard, but it’s fun enough to push through the difficulty to play through some of the best platforming level designs of all time. In each world, there are two special levels. The first one is a special speed-and-reflex level, where you chase after a treasure chest to get a red tooth to unlock a special world at the end of the game. The second is where you get to fly on your favorite big-eyed mosquito through shooter levels, which are pretty fun. After you go through the worlds the first time, you will be able to go through a second set of levels, and fight a huge boss at the end. These are great, but can be a bit of a downside for the game. Though enough about negativity, let’s move onto the presentation.
The presentation is perfect. The console versions have a huge amount of detail thrown into each and every level. There is also a lot of variety with the themes of each world. The characters and enemies are beautifully animated, and are also well-detailed. It is just a shame you will be going through these levels so quickly that you won’t be able to, at times, just chill and look at the beautiful scenery and atmosphere. The music is the pure definition of memorable. The Rayman series, while not having as many amazing games as say Mario and Zelda, has always had great music. There were two different composers for this game. The only one I could get info on was Christophe Heral. You might know him from the Rayman creator’s other amazing gem, Beyond Good and Evil. The music is just a blast to listen to.
So, in this game, you’ve got great presentation, near perfect gameplay, and wonderful, if not gorgeous, music. What is wrong with the game? Well, there are a few minor gripes that bring this game down. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the whole, “you gotta collect everything to complete the game fully” style of game design. I know it’s an extra mission that rewards you with more fun levels, but some of these levels can be rather tedious, since some electoon cages are well hidden among the creative parts of the level. I also don’t like how all of the bosses are at the halfway point of the game. I mean, I love going through a world and beating a boss. It makes me feel accomplished. I would have just wanted bosses at the end of each world and not just after the halfway point of the game. I also feel like the running mechanic doesn’t fully work. My friend and I kept dying time after time because we couldn’t run fast enough, upside down or whatever, to get through the level. It gets to be a pain when you needed to be at that platform 2 seconds earlier.
WELCOME BACK, RAYMAN! You are back to your platforming glory, and this was one of the best games of 2011, one of my personal favorite games of that year. It is also awesome that we are getting Rayman Legends for the Wii U, PS3 and 360, even though Ubisoft made the rather questionable decision of making it multi-platform and not just Wii U only, and having it delayed beyond its original release date does irk me in a very very wrong way. If you have not yet gotten this game for your consoles, you are clearly doing something wrong. Once again, welcome back, Rayman, to your platforming glory. All we need now is for Konami to bring back Goemon and the Mystical Ninja franchise and everything will be amazing.
This game gets a 9 out of 10