Rayman Legends Review: Mario dethroned as best platformer? Absolutely
Rayman Origins was Ubisoft's first attempt at revitalizing the old school platformer, as well as bringing Rayman back to his 2D roots. It was an absolutely remarkable game that was full of humor and amazing platforming action that proved you don't have to be a plumber in blue overalls to be considered a pioneer in the genre.
Rayman Legends was a highly anticipated sequel scheduled originally for a February on the Wii U, but Ubisoft has opted to release the game on multiple platforms, thus delaying it to September. So here we are, with the final retail version in hand, and after months of waiting, Rayman Legends certainly doesn't disappoint.
Rayman Legends, picks up after Origins, as the world is swallowed by darkness, and it's up to Rayman, Globox and a host of new unlockable heroes to once again set things right. The narrative is certainly one of the weaker points of Legends, but then again, platfomers aren't generally known for their deep stories. Mario's plotline always revolves around rescuing a kidnapped Princess over and over again, after all.
The game is broken up into various gameplay segments. Most of the levels include straight-up platforming bliss as Rayman and the crew, while other levels have you control a flying creature called Murphy as you direct Globox through levels. You're responsible for ensuring his safety by flipping switches, moving platforms and tapping on enemies to either dispose of them or tickle them in order to leave an opening for Globox. These levels on the other consoles and PC are instead handled a slightly different way. You still control your character as you normally would, but you have to time button presses with on-screen prompts to make sure that switches get pulled and platforms get moved. It's an interesting setup that makes for slightly more challenging gameplay, if that's your thing.
There are also various challenge levels, which are often shorter, but they require you to ensure your character's survival, as well as collect all the Teensies in order to get the highest score possible. Occasionally, a world will get invaded and create a short time trial, which awards you with Teensies depending on how quickly you get through.
And then, of course, there are various musical stages at the end of each world, which have you jump, punch, kick and run to the music, leaving specific marks or enemies whenever an input is required from the player. These levels are super fun, and despite me beating them the first time around, I found myself coming back to these over and over again. Seriously, theyre so good.
Rayman Legends actually has more in common with Sonic than the blue overalled plumber. The whole concept of getting through the levels relies on momentum, sliding, and jumping off walls. Gaining speed will be your ticket to success and an increased number of overall Lums, which not only unlock more content, but help you reach Gold status in each level.
Quite possibly the best thing about Legends is the level design. Each and every level, as well as every world you travel to, offers a new kind of challenge. Platformers generally have to go out of their way to ensure that levels stay fresh, and Legends goes beyond that.
Boss fights in particular are very clever and engaging, and take a bit of skill to overcome. The best part is that these aren't just fights against bosses; they require some level traversal as well. Since each boss has multiple phases, you'll be tasked with utilizing your platforming skills to get to the next phase. The Mechanized Dragon boss fight was one of the more memorable ones. It helps that each boss fight is also a spectacle to look at.
Legends is absolutely brimming with content. From a myriad of worlds to explore, levels to beat, and heroes to unlock, you also have the ability to unlock bonus content after collecting a certain amount of Lums per level and scratching off a lucky ticket. This bonus content consists of unlocking creatures that gift you extra Lums each day. There's also a slew of unlockable levels from Origins, which is a pretty amazing bonus. The Challenge levels that were released as a standalone title on the Wii U are still ever present in the game, and they still function the same exact way, with daily and weekly challenges to beat.
Legends now looks better than ever, and that holds especially true thanks to the Wii U's native 1080p output. Its gorgeous backdrops coupled with the goofy character design make for a game that's oozing with charm -- pure eye candy.
If you have friends who want in on the action, the Wii U supports up to five players, one on the gamepad and four on Wii remotes, or four players on consoles. But, like other platformers and Origins before it, it can get chaotic very quickly. I recommend enjoying this game by yourself, at least the first time around.
Rayman may not have had the long run of games that Mario has, but Legends proves that putting a little more care and attention into a platformer, not to mention taking some risks, can make for a game that not only revitalizes the genre in incredible ways, but is one of the best, if not the best, platformers I've played to date.
[Reviewed on Wii U]