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Rayman Legends Review

by William Schwartz

It really would have been a shame if Ubisoft had gone ahead and released Rayman: Legends as a Wii U exclusive. It probably wouldn’t have been a system selling game for Nintendo, and a lot of people would have missed out on what is probably among the top 2D platformers ever made. So here we are, just days away from the release of a game that saw one of the most controversial delays in recent memory.  And for all the fans that Ubisoft has collected over the last couple of years with Rayman Origins and Rayman Jungle Run, the time as come for some of the best platforming in the business, and Montpelier does not disappoint.

Rayman: Legends is a rare game that pretty much has it all. It’s a got a beautiful style, it’s fun to play, there are heaps of different levels with a ton of variation, and its got the best quality of all in its innate ability to make you want to do it again, over and over. Rayman and friends return to the Glade of Dreams, where teensies are once again endangered, and Rayman is tasked with freeing the blue creatures.  Honestly, it’s not the story that makes Rayman Legends so special, it’s the complete and utter attention to all the details small and large that leave this platformer standing shoulder to shoulder with the best there is to offer. Yes, we’re talking about Super Mario Bros, let’s not beat around the bush.  Rayman Origins is in many ways a more complete game than anything Nintendo has put out as a 2D platformer in years.  It’s got a wonderful whimsical artstyle, each level feels as if it was meticulously crafted to be the best the studio has ever done, as if the game would be judged by just one.  It’s got level after level of this type of craftmanship, a ton of unlockable characters, trinkets, collectibles, even levels from Rayman Origins that can be unlocked and played in Legends.  It’s got challenges and subsequent rewards, and furthermore, it’s deceptively challenging for those looking to collect all there is to earn in the game.

Your main objective in Rayman Legend is rescuing the Teensies, with each stage containing a total of ten waiting to be freed of their imprisonment. Some are in plain sight, some are hidden cleverly, and two, a king and queen Teensie are hidden in secret puzzle rooms.  You by no means have to collect it all in each level,  but you’ll be rewarded if you do.  The unlockables mentioned above are directly tied to your collection of lums, the yellow and purple creatures that you’ll see in the video below.    The more Teensies that you collect the more paintings that will open up for you to explore.  The game is based around a hub that is somewhat like an art gallery.  Rayman can jump into these painting to take on different challenges, go into rooms filled with your collectibles, even jump into unlocked stages from Rayman Origins.  This brief gameplay video below, shows off some of the early levels in Rayman Legends, some navigation of the central hub, and just a taste of the variety in gameplay that Legends offers.

Rayman Legends Gameplay

Now who you might have noticed in that gameplay video is Murfy, a newcomer to the game.  This companion will open paths for whichever character you choose to play with.  He can cut ropes, move objects, distort the orientation of a puzzle so that you can traverse it like a maze, he can tickle bigger enemies so you can easily dispatch of them, and there are some major differences between how Murfy is used in the Xbox 360 and Wii U versions of the game.  We did do this review on the Xbox 360, but have played our fair share of Legends on the Wii U as well, and Murphy is basically a device probably meant to be used on the Wii U GamePad.  For the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC versions of Legends, he is much more simply used.  A single button press in most cases will have you performing the actions necessary to progress through the level.  He’s not a constant staple in the game, but he is constantly buzzing around, and when the situation calls for his skills, you’ll automatically summon the character for help.

What you might have also caught in that gameplay video is the sheer amount of content in Rayman Legends.  There are six themed worlds with 10 levels each.  And  in those ten levels the gameplay can vary wildly.  Each main painting has a musical number attached to the end that shows off some really impressive orchestration of the music and gameplay. There are numerous levels in each that allow you to unlock new “Legends”, these can be swapped in and out by going to the gallery, or just hopping in their painting.  Each level really is a beauty to behold, and not a single one feels like it had been phoned in.  Each has its place and purpose, and each will offer new secrets to discover and Teensies to add to your collection.  There are around 700 total Teensies to collect overall, and you’ll need to collect a good amount to keep unlocking new paintings to continue your adventure.   Timed challenges will also pop up called “Invasions” which puts you under the gun in a timed scenario to make it through a course you’ve previously played.   Each of the six main paintings have a boss fight attached to the end of them, and they are some of the most impressive visuals that are found in the game.  They vary considerably and add even more variety to the mix,  offering a reward  for making your way through the preceding rounds of the painting.

If and when you do make it to the end of the Legends campaign (if you want to call it that), there’s a good deal of content waiting for you on the other side.  There’s a completely unnecessary soccer game that can be played with friends.  There are daily and weekly challenges that can be tackled for points, and to compete with the community for the best times or scores.  The Rayman Origins campaign is also unlockable so you can tackle that if you’ve never done so before.  All of this stuff is available as you progress through the main campaign, its not reserved for after.  But, since some of the content is tied to how many Lums and Teensies that you’ve discovered, if you were to go at it all at once, you’d be better off to wait until you’ve unlocked it all.

There’s really not much to be said negatively about Rayman Legends.  As far as platformers go, there aren’t many better.  And those that might be in the same league are probably only there for nostalgic reasons.  This is undoubtedly one of the best platformers ever made, whether judging it by it beautiful style, addictive and unique gameplay, or its overwhelming amount of content.  Rayman Legends was definitely worth the wait.

"loved"
loved

Rayman Legends

  • Available On: Xbox, PS3, Wii U, PC
  • Published By: Ubisoft
  • Developed By: Ubisoft Montpellier
  • Genre: Platform
  • US Release Date: September 3rd, 2013
  • Reviewed On: Xbox 360
  • Quote: "This is undoubtedly one of the best platformers ever made, whether judging it by it beautiful style, addictive and unique gameplay, or its overwhelming amount of content. Rayman Legends was definitely worth the wait."
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