Rayman Legends may very well be the best platformer to come along in recent memory. It trumps a lot of the latest efforts from that one Italian plumber, and it delivers an experience so rewarding that it’s hard to put down. Legends is, for all intents and purposes, a game most people should play, especially if they have any interest whatsoever in being happy. That said, there are a few caveats that may stand out to some players despite the general awesomeness of the overall package.
So let’s take a look at some of those stellar qualities and unfavorable issues on this edition of Up Up Down Down.
Up Up: Incredible platforming
If you’re looking for a truly solid platforming romp, this game delivers exactly that. The mechanics and controls are unbelievably tight, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a platformer released this year that plays better. Each of the levels is designed ever so expertly, giving you a modest challenge and wholesome entertainment. Seeing Rayman and company run up walls, bounce off baddies, and jump over pitfalls is always exciting and just really fun. Seriously, move over, Mario.
Down Down: Not enough music stages
One of the biggest draws in Legends is its collection of music stages. These levels, which feature Rayman-ized versions of existing songs, provide some of the most fun in the game. Sadly, they’re only present at the end of each world. While we couldn’t possibly expect these particular stages to make up the bulk of the adventure, perhaps some mid-world music levels would’ve made a big difference.
Up Up: Constant sense of progression
The more you play Legends, the more you unlock. You never get far enough into one world before you’re already unlocking new levels in the next. At first, this openness may seem a bit surprising, but once you actually get things going and see that you’re just unlocking more and more of the many excellent stages that the game offers, you get a sense that you can pretty much play the different worlds in whatever order you desire. This sense of light nonlinearity is most certainly welcome.
Down Down: Murfy levels can sometimes get in the way
Maybe it’s because I chose to play the levels in order, but I found that the auto-running Murfy stages sometimes got in the way. Don’t get me wrong, they’re most certainly fun, but after playing too many of them, you begin to miss the traditional platforming style of the other levels. There’s certainly no dearth of normal platforming in Legends, but sometimes — most notably at the beginning of the game — you can definitely find yourself overwhelmed with the more gimmicky Murfy levels.
Up Up: Piles upon piles of rewards
Just as you constantly progress, you also get loads of rewards. Collecting Lums and Teensies unlocks new playable characters and levels, in the process feeding you more of the game in vast amounts. Then there are those lovely prize tickets, which grant you unlockable stages from Rayman Origins in addition to more Lums and Teensies. Simply put, the entire time you're playing, you feel as if the pleasure centers in your brain are being overloaded with utter bliss.
Down Down: Co-op still isn’t ideal for this type of game
If you’ve ever thought it was a good idea to play games like this with up to four players total (though Legends supports five players on the Wii U), you likely already know that that’s not the case. Games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. U proved that mass co-op is more hectic than fun, and the same can be said about the multiplayer offering on hand here. You’ll have some laughs, sure, but you may also encounter frustration.
Up Up: Touchscreen controls add to the fun
Despite the fact that the Murfy levels can be overbearing at times, that’s not to say they’re not enjoyable. In fact, it’s really entertaining having to constantly use the touchscreen to chop down obstacles, distract enemies, and open new paths for Rayman. It’s easy to see how some folks may fear that the use of a touchscreen may feel tacked on, but that’s really not the case, and I found these controls to be ideal for the Murfy levels.
Down Down: Non-touchscreen controls are a drag
Unfortunately, if you’re not playing on the Wii U or Vita, you’re not getting the benefits of the smooth touchscreen implementation. That shouldn’t discourage you from playing Legends on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC if those are your only options, but just be aware that you probably won’t have as much fun guiding Murfy and helping out the titular limbless hero. In the case of these particular levels, touchscreen controls beat out simplistic shoulder button presses every time.
Left Right Left Right: If you’re at all a fan of happiness, play Rayman Legends
Most of my complaints geared toward Legends are really only nitpicking. The truth is that it’s super hard to find things to dislike about this game. It’s a lovely package from beginning to end, and it’s rife with oodles of things to see, hear, do, and conquer. If you’re a fan of platformers, or hell, if you just want to have a really good time, I cannot stress enough how awesome Legends is. Is it better than Origins? That’s debatable. Still, this is one of those cheery, happy-go-lucky experiences that will bring unrelenting joy into your life.
Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.