When the original Rayman game debuted almost 20 years ago, the 2D platformer market, which was owned by Mario, was pretty crowded. Fast forward to today and Mario is still around and there are more indie games in the genre than you can shake a stick at. As a matter of fact, almost every game in Sony’s tent at the Los Angeles based IndieCade last year was a platformer of some kind. Having grown up with consoles since the early ’80s, I have played a lot of them. It is without reservation that I can say that Rayman Legends is the best platformer I have ever played.
Many Nintendo Wii owners can attest that Rayman Raving Rabbids was one of the best early games on the system. Unfortunately, Ubisoft was never able to recapture the magic with the Rabbids. They were, however, able to make another great Rayman game for the other home consoles with Rayman Origins. Well received, Ubisoft set out to make a sequel and originally committed to making Rayman Legends a Wii U exclusive. Luckily, economics forced them to change plans and now PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 owners can play the sequel to game many of them loved too. Of course, losing the exclusivity doesn’t help Nintendo sell any more consoles.
While there are some advantages to owning and playing Legends on the Wii U, you’re not really giving up that much if you play the game on PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. The PlayStation 3 version does limit the game to a four player co-op adventure, but on the Wii U, the fifth player really doesn’t get the full experience anyway. It is similar to the assists you can provide on New Super Mario Bros. Wii U. There are also a few GamePad gimmicks on the Wii U which are replaced with button presses or the analog sticks on the PlayStation 3.
Like most 2D platformers, the general controls for Rayman Legends are pretty basic. You move him around with left analog stick. He can jump, run, and attack. He can also execute multi-jumps in narrow areas and can glide. This move set is replicated across the variety characters. There aren’t really any special character requirements throughout the game. It is not really in the specific mechanics where the game shines, although everything does work really well. This is particularly evident in my personal favorite, the rhythm sections of the game.
Though the premise of Rayman Legends is nonsensical, the game goes all in. The art and sound are impeccable and completely immersive. There are over 120 levels, including 40 remastered levels from Rayman Origins. Those were presumably included for Wii U owners who missed out on Origins. These bonus levels are unlocked the same way as many of the other extras in the game, with scratcher tickets. That brings up one of the most compelling aspects of the game. Besides being a pretty lengthy platformer, there is a lot to do in Rayman Legends. I already mentioned the unlockable bonus levels, but in addition to that, Rayman Legends also offers both daily and weekly challenges.
There is a lot of kooky charm to Rayman Legends and for such a big game there is quite a variety in gameplay. For the most part, Legends refines what was great about Origins and gives you more of it. Though the game can be challenging, it is also pretty forgiving with its continue system. Of course, the levels are all replayable with a hub system for the entirety of the game. There isn’t much in Rayman Legends that I don’t love and being able to share the experience is a plus. There is no online multiplayer, but I can’t help but feel that its inclusion may well have been a blight on what is a really great experience.
Rayman Legends is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief. This game can also be found on: PS Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, and Windows PC.