Rayman Legends has come to next generation consoles and Ubisoft wants fans to shake their controllers to the funky platforming beat once more. For those of you who missed the original release, Rayman Legends was a marvelous game for the Wii U that combined platforming, speed running, rhythm games and touchpad controls. It was also released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and while it was still fun, the game was missing a certain charm as all the touch controls were taken out and replaced with traditional button controls. There was hope that the PlayStation 4 release would re-implement these touch controls using the PS Vita or the Dualshock 4 touch pad. In some instances they have, but this is largely a port of the PlayStation 3 version, not a port of the Wii U version. It’s still a great game and it’s certainly closer to what Ubisoft originally had in mind, but it still doesn’t hold a candle to the Wii U version.
Rayman Legends is a 2D platformer with a twist. Your basic controls are exactly what you would expect from any other 2D platformer. You can run, jump, and attack, and that’s basically it. The fun of the game comes through navigating the interesting level layouts. Even without gimmicks, these levels themed around things such as pirates, medieval times, and luchadores, are a blast to play. However, many levels require you to manipulate the environment to make it to the end. Some will ask you to cut down platforms in order to make a big jump, while others will ask you to rotate the entire room, navigating through a spiked maze like some sort of sadistic iron ball puzzle. Then, there are the famous musical levels, where you are forced to run at full speed right till the end. The twist here is that each difficult jump you have to make is timed to the background music, turning the game into a rhythm game. You do all of this while collecting shiny Lums and trying to lower your speed running times down by fractions of a second. That’s the whole game on any platform in a nutshell.
On the Wii U version, you controlled a lot of gimmicks with the gamepad through the actions of a fairy named Murfy. You could swipe across a chain to drop a platform, tilt the gamepad to tilt a room, and move your finger across Lums to the beat of the music in order to increase their value. In the PS3 version of the game, Murfy was simply controlled via a button press. Platforms would fall and switches would be pulled automatically. It was far less interactive and innovative than it was on the Wii U.
This is largely what you are going to get in the PS4 version. While you can scratch off bonus “lucky tickets” and alter a few level elements using the Dualshock 4’s touch pad, you are mostly just playing the PS3 version all over again. The PS4 version also supports Vita connectivity, which is great, but this can only be used for remote play. Remote play does work well with little lag and no real graphical loss, but the lack of touch screen games feels like a missed opportunity. I can understand why the PS4 version alone doesn’t support these, being that the Dualshock 4 only has a touch pad, not a touch screen, but the Vita has everything the Wii U gamepad has and more.
Of course, the PS4 version has plenty of technical upgrades. Loadings times, which were a bit of an issue in the PS3 version, have been cut immensely to be almost instant. The game looks better and runs in higher resolution. You’d think that a sprite-based storybook-styled game wouldn’t benefit from the PS4’s powerful graphics engine, but you would be wrong. You actually notice it the most as the camera zooms in and out. There was a bit of graphical loss in the PS3 version that really isn’t noticeable here, so that’s a plus.
One of the big advertised features of Rayman Legends is the new camera function. Basically, you can pause the game at any time and use the PS4 touch pad to take screenshots and share them over social media. The touch pad actually works quite well for this, allowing you to zoom, crop and basically capture the exact shot you want. The more powerful PS4 graphics also help, as you can zoom in incredibly close without pixelation. It’s a nice little diversion sure, but it’s hardly a selling point.
The biggest problem with the PS4 version of Rayman Legends is that there is little reason to purchase it if you already own the game on another platform. There’s no PS4 upgrade program that offers a discount for the tile, like we have seen with Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4, so you’ll have to pay full price. The game also doesn’t have cross-buy or cross-play functionality with the Vita, so you can’t take your game on the road. Leaderboards and online challenges are not linked between the PS3, PS4 and PS Vita versions, and single-player progress won’t carry over either, so purchasing the PS4 version means you have to start from scratch. Outside of a couple new characters there’s no new content in the game, and since you aren’t getting a chance to play the game with touch controls, the way the game was originally designed, all you are really paying for is a graphical upgrade.
If you haven’t played Rayman Legends yet, and you own a PS4, then forget everything I have said and run out to purchase it now. It’s still a phenomenal game, I cannot stress this enough, and for the people who haven’t purchased it yet, this is probably one of the better versions. In fact, it’s probably the best version after the original Wii U release. But it’s still only marginally better than it is on the PS3 and Xbox 360. So anyone who already owns the game, which at this point is most of the Rayman fanbase, can simply overlook this release. It’s just a port, and you aren’t missing much by passing it up.
This review was based on a retail version of Rayman Legends for the PlayStation 4.