Rayman-Legends---Xbox-One-Review Rayman Legends - Xbox One Review

   04/03/2014 at 20:08       Richard Horne       4 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - Rayman Legends, 2D Platformer, Rhythm Action Platformer, Cartoon, Ubisoft

Let’s be honest: gamers are a fickle, ignorant bunch. We’re too cool to admit enjoying playing Call of Duty and FIFA, but will fall over ourselves to recommend indie darlings such as Nidhogg and The Castle Doctrine. We look back nostalgically at the Nintendo vs. SEGA era with rose-tinted glasses proclaiming wistfully how “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” while failing to realise that we’ve never really had it better than we currently do. And we’ll chide Nintendo, EA and Ubisoft in particular, for sticking too rigidly to the predictable safe blueprint instead of releasing new IPs or rebooting long, lost forgotten franchises that didn’t even sell well in the first place. And with the release of Ubisoft’s Rayman Legends, I fear that, true to form, we’re going to ask for one thing when actually we want another.

Rayman Legends is everything we supposedly want. It’s a 2D platformer reminiscent of arguably the greatest game of all time, Super Mario World. It’s a beautifully realised visual spectacle with a glorious hand-painted aesthetic and is John Kricfalusi-esque (he of Ren and Stimpy fame) in that it simultaneously manages to be both fluffy and light and brutally dark. It’s jam-packed with variety and constantly mixes things up with no two levels the same and really does feel like a love-letter to the classic 16-bit platformers we all grew up with.

While each of the game’s worlds follows the tried and tested formula of delivering a few themed levels before a final boss encounter, Ubisoft further mixes things up with its fantastic rhythm action levels. Instead of progressing through a level at your own speed, these musical levels see you coerced and cajoled along at breakneck speeds but in time to brilliant remixes and reinterpretations of popular songs. You’ll jump and bounce on enemies and obstacles in time to the beat and it becomes less about reflexes and anticipation and more about timing and listening to the audio cues. They’re hugely satisfying and rewarding and something which could well be fleshed out fully into a game genre of their own – the rhythm action platformer. 

The orchestrated soundtrack is epic and bombastic with playful sounds effects and character chirrups interrupting the classical overtures and adding an element of fun and adventures that sits perfectly with the game's universe.

But for all of Rayman Legends' visual splendour, it's actually let down somewhat by its titular character. Gamers of a certain age will know that Mario’s original design was more a limitation of the hardware at the time than a conscious design choice. But somehow Nintendo managed to keep pace with technology, constantly evolving graphics and increases in processing horsepower and managed to keep Mario relevant and modern. But the design of Rayman himself, again, no doubt a product of his time, unfortunately, hasn’t managed to remain current and seems somewhat at odds with the stunning design of the myriad enemies he faces as well as the brilliantly realised world he inhabits. This is further reinforced by the other playable characters in the game who have fully animated arms and legs. Rayman reminds me of the Pickford Brothers’ Plok – another oft-forgotten, bastard-hard Nintendo classic.

Rayman Legends was originally announced as a Wii U exclusive before being later delayed and ported to the Xbox and PlayStation consoles. And while in general it’s fair to say the porting process has been a success, there are quite a few noticeable Wii U hangovers. First off, after completing each of the game’s 70+ levels, the total number of Lums you managed to collect is totted up and you’re given a reward based on that final total. Collect a specified number of Lums and you’ll win a scratch card which in turn either rewards you with more Lums or unlocks an in-game character or pet to view in the game’s gallery. On the Wii U you scratch the card panels with your finger on the touchscreen but on the other consoles you instead clumsily control each hand with the analogue sticks which feels cumbersome and pointless. 

There’s also Rayman’s companion character Murfy, a cute little frog who interacts with the game environments on your behalf in order to aid your progress. Certain levels are food-based, and on the Wii U it’s very apparent that you would draw a line, again using the touch-screen based on where you want Murfy to eat to open a path, but on the other consoles you simply time a button-press as he moves along a pre-determined path. In principle it just about works, but it feels slightly awkward and tacked-on. And given how well designed the rest of the game is, it’s blatantly apparent that if the game had been designed to be played using a traditional controller in the first instance, these mechanics would never have made it past the proof-of-concept stage.

Controls-wise, Rayman Legends is, as you’d hope and expect, tight and solid. There’s a definite rhythm and feel to each of the playable characters and the ability to glide by pressing and holding the jump button a second time certainly comes into its own on many occasions. You can hold down the right trigger to fun faster, which is useful when trying to find all of the hidden collectables – some of which will require blind leaps of faith or skillful finger gymnastics. While, as mentioned earlier, Murfy the frog appears in certain levels and can distract enemies, cuts ropes, move obstacles or manipulate the environment by pressing the B button.

Rayman Legends is exactly the sort of game we so-called gaming fans have been crying out for. It’s accessible to beginners and children, but still with enough depth and challenge to keep the hardcore among you entertained. It’s the rarest of beasts: a 2D platformer. And it manages to evoke memories of previous generations while being undeniably modern. Yet Rayman Legends will probably sell in relatively low numbers compared with some of its contemporaries and Ubisoft’s shareholders will dictate that the company pools its resources into bleeding the Assassin’s Creed franchise dry. Which is a shame. And further evidence why we think we know what we want, but in actual fact, haven’t got a bloody clue. 

User Comments:

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evilashchris - on 05/03/2014 at 11:45 wrote:
The character design is so lovely on this too. All except for Rayman, who I detest with the intensity of a thousand suns.

peej - on 05/03/2014 at 16:22 wrote:
Loving the Vita version of this. /obligatory "Probably has a better framerate / res than the 'Bone version, amirite?"

Nicely written review - the sort of points made in this are why the industry is like it is today. Full of hackneyed old cynics who have evolved past playing games for enjoyment and just want to get into endless arguments instead :)

HairyArse - on 05/03/2014 at 17:56 wrote:
The Xbox One version looks amazing. The textures and characters are as crisp as anything I've ever seen. The framerate is silky smooth and the thing I forgot to mention in the review is the load times which are non existent.

Trip SkyWay - on 08/03/2014 at 11:39 wrote:
Amazing game. A big step up from the already great origins.

They just about get away with sticking the Murphy touch stuff on to buttons, but I'm sure it made more sense on the touch screen. (I played it on PC)

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Better late than never, eh Ror?
Khanivor - In response to: Battle Chasers: Nightwar Review - 281day(s) ago.
Enjoyed this, cheers!
evilashchris - In response to: Reflecting on the Life of a Tomb Raider - 366day(s) ago.
Looks who's back. Shady's back.
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Micro Machines was my favourite!
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i agree chris, the Aliens table makes the others look bad.. because its so goood!! but they arent that bad.. haha! ...
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