Rayman Origins Preview

Who would believe that Ubisoft is 25 years old? The French company is one of the biggest names in the industry, and they continually impress with major games like Assassin’s Creed, Ghost Recon, Brothers in Arms, and more. One of the biggest original games to come from the company is the timeless Rayman.

Before Beyond Good and Evil 2, Ancel was working on Rayman, which starred a dude with no arms or legs who could make his hair spin like a helicopter. While Rayman has seen his share of spin-off games (including the Rabbids), we haven’t seen him in a proper platforming game in a very long time.

Enter Rayman Origins. A love letter of sorts to the unique history of Rayman, Origins is a four-player platformer that contains a uniquely French style of humor, with homages to classic and popular games spread across 60 levels. This isn’t something you can sneeze at.

Rayman Origins is gorgeous. One of the most beautifully animated and drawn games on the show floor, Rayman Origins looks stunning. Everything from the character models to the lum collectibles to the backgrounds is gorgeous. The game has a sense of life and vitality that even modern 3D games seem to miss.

The gameplay itself seems to hold up just as well. Up to four players can work together to complete the rapid fire stages, and while Rayman and his pals all look different, they play exactly the same. There’s some nice competition as players try to collect the most lums and defeat the most enemies. They can even troll each other by attacking. It’s very much like New Super Mario Bros., with players inflating like balloons and floating back to the surviving players to respawn.

As a team, players can traverse the jungle stages, the under-the-sea stage (featuring silly old timey song), desert levels (ring a bell to scare off lethal beetles), and a whole lot more. Secrets are all over the place, and discovering all of the hidden elements is immensely satisfying. Levels tend to be short and offer a lot of punching and jumping action. By holding each other up, players can make some real headway, and this game seems to offer a fine balance between trolling your friends and working well together.

My favorite part of Rayman Origins is the way that Ancel and his team aren’t afraid to poke a little fun at other games. In one of the secret jungle areas, players can throw themselves on a wooden structure to knock it down, Angry Birds style, and in one small section of a stage modeled after a spicy hot kitchen (anthropomorphic peppers included), Rayman and his pals will need to jump on and avoid falling pieces of ice that happen to resemble Tetris pieces. Even the famous Tetris tune plays! It’s funny and charming, and it’s great to see a game that is so self-aware come across with such skill.

Between the graphics and style, the solid gameplay, and the fun multiplayer, Rayman Origins went from being a game I could ignore to a game I want. Running in HD, it looks fantastic, and with a group of pals, I could imagine a night of beers and fun. Rayman Origins feels like a fantastic starting-over for the franchise.