Rayman Legends Review
Ubisoft's Rayman is one of gaming's quintessential platformers. Over the years, the character has gone through various iterations, however the developer has found success in recent years with the 2D hand-animated style found in both Rayman Origins and this month's Rayman Legends. Originally slated to arrive earlier this year exclusively on the Wii U, Ubisoft delayed the sequel until September to allow for a multiplatform release. Still, Rayman Legends is a big game for Nintendo's fledgling console, and could help the system turn 2013 around. That is, if Rayman Legends is actually any good.
Well, the good news is not only is Rayman Legends an absolute joy to play, it's also a game perfectly suited to the Wii U's unique functionality. But, we're getting ahead of ourselves. What helps set Legends up as one of the best platformers of the year is its amazing design sense. While the previous entry was also a fabulous looking title, Legends looks even better. Too often, games this generation have been fueled by muted color schemes devoid of eye-popping visuals. Rayman Legends is so vibrant and full of life, it's almost impossible to look away. Everything on screen has been painstakingly painted to capture your eye, which is both awesome and a bit overwhelming. At times it can be a challenge to stay focused on where you're going when you're busy taking in all the sights.
Playing Legends is a snap, as it's rather easy to get the hang of things even for novice platform players. Controls aren't overly complicated, and mostly require you run and jump with the proper timing. The barely there plot revolves around monsters taking over the world and capturing the Teensy population. You'll have to free up to 10 captives on every level, with every freed Teensy helping you unlock more worlds as you progress. With 700 Teensies to save, there's no shortage of work to be done, and to unlock everything, you'll certainly have some backtracking to do if you don't manage to save every last little guy. On one hand, it adds a lot of replayability, and gives you an excuse to go back and replay levels you've already finished. On the other hand, it can be a bit tedious considering you need to have saved hundreds upon hundreds of Teensies to even continue seeing new worlds.
Fortunately, Legends' drop-in/drop-out co-op play can take the sting out of having to revisit old locales time after time. Up to five friends can play, with four using regular characters and the fifth person playing as Murfy on the GamePad. Murfy is a character all unto himself who offers specific GamePad levels during the story, which will have you moving obstacles and fending off enemies so friends (or a computer-controlled character), can advance through a stage. There are typically one or two Murfy levels per area, so even when playing alone, you'll get to enjoy using the GamePad's special touch controls. The only disappointing thing about using the GamePad (and this holds true for off-TV play, too), is how Legends looks on the smaller screen. It's still a good-looking game, but Legends just doesn't pop like it does on an HDTV.
Rayman Legends also has a wealth of unlockables, including a bunch of levels from Rayman Origins, new characters and creatures. Collecting more Lums (the game's pseudo-currency), will gain you more of everything. You'll also get Lucky Tickets by collecting enough Lums on a given stage, which are scratch off tickets used to gain the levels from Origins and all those other cool unlocks. Just about every aspect of Legends is built around replaying stages over and over, and that bodes well for everyone. Even if you've managed to unlock quite a bit on your own, experiencing levels again with friends is an entirely different way to enjoy what Legends has to offer.
There's little doubt Rayman Legends is one of the best games to hit the Wii U since it launched last year. It's got everything you could ask for in a game, from challenge and accessibility, to replayability and tons of unlocks. It's a shame Legends didn't come out earlier in the year, but now that it's finally here, the Wii U finally has its first can't-miss third-party game.
This review was based on a retail copy of Rayman Legends for the Wii U. Rayman Legends is also available on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PS Vita.