Rhys Thomas Elliott rediscovers the whimsical charm of 2D platformers with the crazy and colourful Rayman Legends.
Origins was a game that resonated with many. The tight 2D platforming coupled with a cutesy aesthetic and musical charm was a neat throwback to the good old days. Rayman Legends builds upon the foundations Origins created, and then some. However, Legends had a bit of a rocky start. It was initially intended to be a Wii U exclusive due to release in the early days but the game was delayed for months to accommodate a simultaneous release for Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, PC and PS Vita. I myself played it on the PS3.
The game kicks off with Rayman and the gang being awoken after a 100 year nap to find out that the 10 princesses and teensies of the land have been captured by the dark teensies. The plot is appropriately minimal, but its charm and tongue-in-cheek nature caused me to crack a smile on more than one occasion.
The aim of the game in Legends is to save the captured princesses and teensies. This is achieved across over 120 levels, with many collectables and goodies to collect along the way; itís a perfectionistís dream. There are 700 teensies to collect, with what can be taken as the endgame being unlocked at 400 teensies. The core game took me roughly 8 hours to complete, but there is so much more quality content to this game. Each level has a certain amount of lums (the game’s currency) to collect and teensies to save, and you are accordingly given a gold, silver or bronze trophy for your efforts. You are heavily rewarded for fully exploring the levels in the form of Lucky Tickets which unlock extra lums, enemy concepts and extra levels. There are also daily and weekly challenges, which pit you against the globe or your friends in addictive leaderboard-based challenges. That’s not all, Legends features: 40 remastered levels from Rayman Origins, time trials, an addictive football mini-game and survival levels. That’s a lot of Rayman for thirty quid.
The visual presentation of the game is top-notch. The hand-drawn style visuals and quirky characters radiate off the screen, while the character animations are also extremely charming and fluid. For me though, the details in the environments are the visual high point in Legends. The game features an array of themed worlds for you to explore; everything from the standard water and snow levels to the bewilderingly bizarre world based on the contents of a fridge. Legends proves that a good art direction trumps pure processing power any day.
The gameplay in Rayman Legends builds upon the foundations set forward in Origins. It involves swimming, swinging, leaping, stomping and punching your way through whatever hazards, obstacles and enemies the game throws your way, and itíll be throwing a lot your way. As with Origins, Legends can be played co-operatively with 1-3 friends locally. There is definitely some fun to be had with Legends as a party game; the sense of camaraderie in working together to explore the levels with friends is pretty fulfilling.
Tempo and timing are central to the platforming experience here. This is perhaps why the soundtrack is so refined and varied. The soundtrack features contributions from the likes of Incubus, Slimkid3, and DJ Nu-Mark. The high point in this game comes in the form of the rhythm-based levels. In these levels, every interaction with the environment cues a musical element in the track. For example, on one level I collected 30 lums in rapid succession only to hear 30 note, face-melting guitar solo; the feedback is extremely satisfying and is hands-down one of my best gaming experiences this year.
Legends is about the fun factor, and nothing but the fun factor. No DLC, no season pass, just pure gaming ecstasy. The astonishing gameplay, charm, visuals and soundtrack of Legends all mix together to fuse a cocktail of gaming goodness.