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Rayman Legends – Wii U

Rayman Legends – Wii U

Rayman LegendsPlatform:  Wii U

Release Date (NA):  September 3rd, 2013

Developer:  Ubisoft Montpellier

Publisher:  Ubisoft

Genre:  Platformer

Nerd Rating:  9.5 out of 10

Despite my conviction to go through a stack of old games that I’ve been looking forward to, I’ve found myself quite unable to put down Rayman Legends.  Rayman is a franchise I’m aware of but until recently had never played.  Although originally intended as a Wii U exclusive, someone some where changed his or her mind and Legends also made it to the PC, 360, PS3, and PSV with expected releases for the XB1 and PS4 as well.  Still, I can’t imagine how certain gamplay elements will be replicated outside of the Wii U.  This is an amazing game that finally puts the Wii U’s GamePad to good use, and even if it didn’t it’d still be a damn fine platformer.  In the beginning there’s the expected jumping and running but after a couple of levels it becomes obvious that Rayman Legends is far from “just another platformer.”

Rayman Legends

Rayman LegendsAt its core, Rayman Legends is about jumping from one platform to another, defeating enemies, and avoiding “bottomless pits.”  What makes this title so unique is the way in which these familiar actions are handled.  Rayman is able to jump off of walls, hang on to ledges, hover in the air, float in the wind, attack in multiple directions, and perform any number of useful tricks with a running start.  He can also alternate between his regular and miniature size in some levels and mini-Rayman handles all of the above actions slightly different.  Besides progressing to the end of the level and the occasional boss fights, each stage is filled with a set number of “Teensies” that Rayman must rescue in order to unlock more stages.  Lums are also strewn about and a trophy/rank is awarded at the end of each level based on how many lums are attained.

Rayman LegendsRayman has an extremely diverse set of moves and each environment is filled with objects that can sometimes function in multiple ways.  When combined, these two aspects make for an infinitely interesting game where the player must figure out how to access areas while avoiding others.  It’s difficult to describe exactly what playing Rayman Legends is like.  Whereas most platformers are confined to the solid ground underneath, Rayman can extensively utilize all parts of the environment including walls, moving wind, and many other assorted objects.  There are enough opportunities for exploration to keep one from feeling too boxed in, yet the stages progress in a linear enough fashion to prevent one from becoming lost or frustrated.

Rayman LegendsTo keep gameplay fresh, a variety of different levels are thrown in.  Some levels require Rayman to run very quickly with no time to stop and having only one chance to gather Teensies and lums.  Be it flowing lava or a giant beast chasing from behind, there’s very little time for error and incredibly quick thinking is required along with a little luck and maybe a few dozen runs through the level.  Other levels are timed and contain a number of Teensies at the end; the quicker they’re reached, the more Teensies are rescued.

Rayman LegendsOne often encountered variant involves the sole use of the GamePad.  The player controls a frog, while the computer moves through the level with another character.  As the computer merrily strolls along, it’s up to the player to manipulate the environment using the touch screen.  This includes moving the computer character across platforms, ridding the area of enemies, and being quick enough to arrange objects in such a way for the character to gather lums and Teensies.  This method of play is wildly innovative, and though it can be difficult at first it quickly becomes addictive.  My personal favorite type of level is a race across obstacles done to the beat and rhythm of a song.  Rayman runs through a stage bashing enemies and barriers all while a song is playing, with the timing of drum beats coordinated to the beating of foes.  It’s a remarkable set up and a ton of fun.

Rayman Legends

Words can hardly do adequate justice to the gameplay of Rayman Legends; it must be played to be understood.  I’m not sure what features the other versions have to replace the use of the Wii GamePad, though I imagine  the Wii U port to have the most functionality since it was envisioned as an exclusive at one time.  I would however be interested in giving the PS Vita release a shot.

In addition to the main single player mode Rayman Legends includes several challenges, a multiplayer co-op mode, and a fun little soccer game for two or more players.  I confess that I haven’t given the multiplayer options much of a chance yet but I can’t imagine them being any less stellar than the rest of the game.  More on this as my experienced deepens.

Rayman Legends

Rayman LegendsYou’ll be too busy figuring out all of Rayman’s cool tricks to care about the graphics at first, but once you catch your breath to take a look you’ll see how astounding the visuals truly are.  A wide range of saturated colors are used to wonderful effect.  Legends certainly slants towards the cartoonish but an amazing amount of detail has been given to both enemies and backgrounds.  The artistry is magnificent and takes many different forms over the course of the game from jungles to rotten fruit to magma-filled caverns.  I don’t think there’s many more words I can use to describe how dazzling the graphics are.

Rayman LegendsBesides Rayman, the player also has a slew of other players to choose from with even more becoming available as one progresses.  I’m not too sure if there are any real differences between the characters’ abilities; my instinct is telling me “no” since it doesn’t seem noticeably easier or more difficult when randomly switching characters from level to level.  The original Rayman is of course the choice for purists, but there’s also several Globoxes (including one dressed as Luigi), quite a few Teensies, a number of medieval-themed females, and more.  My favorite is a version of Rayman in Mario attire.  Somehow I doubt either of these costume changes made it into other ports.

Rayman LegendsThe controls function perfectly once one becomes acclimated.  There is somewhat of a learning curve when it comes to getting all of Rayman’s movements down but early levels are broken down in a way where one isn’t forced to come out strong with all of his abilities.  Attacking while jumping can take a few forms, such as lunging downward, flying (in the “wind” stages) and floating will take some time to master, and there’s even a few more neat tricks to be done while running or after a running start.  All the quirks are far too numerous to fully get into here.  Rayman’s ability to run, jump, and attack can be combined in different ways and different situations to produce some interesting and innovative methods of traversing a level.

Rayman LegendsRayman Legends is a lot harder than it may initially appear.  Though the first few stages spend some time getting the player used to Rayman’s world and characteristics, even the task of rescuing the Teensies requires some skill and will prove difficult to both locate and free the first time through.  Legends wastes no time diving into the deep end and it it isn’t long until the dying starts.  Thankfully the game is full of checkpoints (although not obvious or marked) and it’s unlikely that one will be stuck in one spot for too long.  Getting to some of the Teensies or collecting all the lums is a different story, however.  Being a generally harder game gives this title much more replay value than similar games where sometimes up to half of it acts as practice for the more difficult second half.  Boss battles are especially challenging requiring a number of attempts just to identify the movement and attack patterns of the foe during each phase of combat.

Should a particular level prove too much of a challenge, Legends takes place in a gallery where Rayman can choose which “paintings to jump into,” i.e. which level to attempt.  More paintings become available as lums and Teensies are collected and there’s always more than a few to choose from, even if the player isn’t always able to round up vast sums of lums.  The stages are also grouped together according to theme.  From the main gallery, the player chooses an “episode” which then contains the levels/stages.  For example, in Toad Story, each of the levels are filled with an updraft (wind) where one must learn to fluidly use Rayman’s floating/flying ability to excel.  This “episodic” approach ensures that the player is able to experience all the possibilities of Rayman’s world, not to mention it provides welcome eye candy across a wide range of styles.

Rayman Legends

I suppose that I was remiss to pass by this title for the past few months, but the cover art had caught my attention enough to finally snatch it up.  Just when I think I’ve landed on the perfect Wii U game another comes along that blows my mind even more.  Super Mario 3D World deserves its place near the top of the console’s “must have” list, but be sure not to let Rayman Legends fall through the cracks in Mario’s wake.  This is the game that other platformers should aspire to; it’s got enough wild innovation to keep it from feeling stale while still retaining the basic platformer framework.  Newcomers to video games might want to steer clear of Legends until they’ve explored some easier titles, but for those looking to hone their skills or find a worth platformer, look no further.

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

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