Rayman Legends finally finds its way into the hands of gamers, and despite whatever residual rage you have over the loss of its Wii U-exclusively, you owe it to yourself to play this game.
Once again taking the bare bones approach to narrative, Rayman Legends sees the Glade of Dreams overrun by devious nightmares. After sleeping for a 100 years, Rayman and his friends are woken up by Murphy, who brings them up to speed on the current situation.
Together, they all set out to rid the Glade of not just the nightmares infesting their home, but the dark teensies who hold the key to their defeat.
The resulting adventure, as expected, is nothing short of a wondrous experience from beginning to end. Simply put; Rayman Legends takes everything that was enjoyable about its predecessor, Rayman Origins, and improves upon it by throwing them into a blender with a whole mess of new content.
If, as I wrote almost a year ago, Rayman Origins is “a worthy contender for the best platforming title of this generation”, then Rayman Legends is certainly the best 2D platformer since Super Mario World.
A steep call, yes, but one that’s justified thanks to Rayman Legends’ expertly designed levels, brilliant soundtrack (music levels, included) and stunning, eye-catching visual art style. What’s more, the game continues to find ways to surprise you, offering up something different, or familiar mechanics in new ways, around every turn. There’s little to hate here, and while we can argue until the cows come home in spite of it, the extra development time awarded the title has certainly been put to good use.
A notable example of this can be seen in the boss stages within Rayman Legends. Each feature their own unique approach to how you engage them, thanks to their varied and wholly unique design – even if they all fall into the rather mundane “hit three times and their dead” formula. Further, the stages themselves, and especially the music-themed levels, deserve considerable praise for the sheer amount of creativity having gone into their complex, yet seamless design.
All this said, let’s not forget the obvious elephant in the room; the extra development time spent on translating the Wii U features to the more “traditional” control schemes of PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. The much-touted Murphy levels, where players would use the GamePad’s screen to take control of the flying-frog creature, providing assistance to players on the TV screen, are butchered down to becoming nothing more than a simple push of a button.
This is definitely a shame, considering the original intention behind these sections will largely go unknown by the much larger install base of the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, not to mention the fact this new setup (where you use, for example the B button on Xbox 360) creates unnecessary frustration. Rayman Legends can be a difficult platformer in its own right, especially the later stages, and certainly doesn’t need the addition of having to precisely time the press of another button.
Away from the core experience, you’ll be met with a wealth of extra content that is sure to keep you busy for a long time coming. Aside from alternative takes on levels you’ve already completed, there’s the included Challenges mode where you can take part in daily/weekly trails for your place on the leaderboards, and a special Rayman Origins mode that allows you to play stages from the game.
And that’s not to mention the whopping 700 teensies needing rescuing.
Rayman Legends has certainly been worth the wait. It’s taken the solid foundation laid by its predecessor and built upon it in such an organic way that the entire experience feels irrevocably fresh and innovative.
However, the game comes with a disclaimer; buy it for Nintendo Wii U. The “other” versions comes with added frustration of having the GamePad centric features cutaway, made into nothing more than a simple press of a button. I’m sure this isn’t what the development team originally intended, and without taking more time to refine these features to PlayStation 3/Vita remote play and Xbox Smart Glass, this is the best they could do.