Rayman Legends hands-on
Last year, Rayman Origins delivered a delightful 2D platforming romp that was filled with challenging gameplay and colorful cheer. It was one of the more underappreciated games of 2011 up until it gained some momentum a while after launch. Capitalizing on the success of its lovely run-and-jump action game, Ubisoft was fairly quick to announce a follow-up: Rayman Legends for the Wii U. I had the chance to check out Legends over the weekend at Nintendo’s Wii U Experience event in Los Angeles, and I walked away from my demo session ridiculously excited for the upcoming Wii U exclusive.
The first thing to point out about Legends is that the art style that first debuted in Origins has received quite the makeover. Rather than looking like a lovely work of animated bliss, Legends features 3D visuals on a side-scrolling plane. Like many other individuals, I absolutely adored the cartoon-like style of the last game, so I was a bit saddened to see that a similar direction wouldn’t be explored with this upcoming effort. That said, I simply cannot take away from how great the game looked as I was playing. No, this isn’t the art style many of us fell in love with last year, but it’s still pretty darn easy on the eyes.
The level structure in Legends is a continuation of what we saw in Ubisoft’s previous Rayman title. There are enemies, pitfalls, and spikes littered throughout the stages, and the series' brand of fast-paced platforming requires you to move fast and think faster. It’s an awesome style of platforming that will likely keep the game from getting boring because it’s so engaging and rewarding. Rayman is equipped with several returning moves such as jump kicks, hair-powered hover abilities, and running attacks. I performed all of these moves as I ran through a perilous crumbling level, and I was glad to see how responsive the game was.
During my demo session, I was using the Wii U Pro Controller, so I didn’t actually get to test out the Wii U GamePad’s functions myself. That said, Nintendo had two players to a booth, and my partner (some random guy who was kind of annoying and had a neck beard) was manning the GamePad. Through the touchscreen, he was able to tap on enemies, clearing the path for me to run through. This was especially useful in areas where the level was collapsing into itself, because it allowed me to focus on performing some tricky platforming while the other player made sure that the baddies didn’t pose too much of a threat.
The GamePad isn’t just used for taking out enemies, though. There are several interesting functions that the Wii U’s signature controller can be used for. Certain paths, for example, featured large, spike-laden pitfalls. Above a couple of these were platforms hanging from vines. With a swipe across the GamePad’s touchscreen, the vines were torn and the platform fell over the pitfall, creating a bridge for Rayman to walk on. Additionally, one area featured a large circular maze rife with, you guessed it, spikes. I wasn’t actually playing this demo session, but I watched on as the player using the GamePad rotated the maze while the player controlling Rayman performed wall jumps and traversed the cleverly designed challenge.
I walked away from my time with Legends completely impressed. I loved Origins, so I’ve been looking forward to this follow-up since it was announced. I was glad to discover that the quick, fiendish action platforming from the last game is returning. While I was a bit disappointed to see the rich art style of Origins disappear in favor of 2.5D graphics, I can’t deny how pretty Legends looks. Additionally, some interesting use of the GamePad is being incorporated into the experience. Sadly, I wasn’t given details on how single-player would work, but I imagine some slick multitasking will be incorporated for solo players. If you were a fan of Origins, by all means add Legends to your list of games to watch out for on the Wii U.
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