September 30, 2019 at 10:47 AM #1384
Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding
Striving for Perfection
Rayman Legends is Your One-Way Ticket to Gaming Nirvana
Everyone loves a certain amount of nostalgia. There’s a thrill that comes from revisiting something that you used to love. Whether it be a favorite movie, book or video game we all love to revisit things from our past. But finding something new that manages to harness that same excitement yet also present you with a brand new experience is a rare thing indeed. Ladies and Gentlemen: meet Rayman Legends.
These days old school 2D platformers are a dime a dozen. All you have to do is go to the Xbox marketplace, Steam or PSN store and you’ll be hit with a barrage of these games that all claim to be the best platforming game since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or Super Mario World. Having tried quite a few of these games, I can say most of them don’t live up to the hype. Too many of them are content to go for a gimmick, they have some quirk that makes them stand out in the store so that you click the purchase button. The best of them take a ground up approach and try to actually evolve the 2D platforming genre while still retaining the traits that made them so appealing in the first place. Rayman Legends is one of these games, and probably the best of them this generation so far.
This game is just gorgeous. I don’t know how many p or frames per second it runs at, but it’s one of the most visually pleasing games I’ve played in some time. It looks like you are playing a cartoon basically, but it’s all very detailed and well designed. The different worlds you visit all have a distinct feel that sets them apart from one another to keep things fresh. Too many times I’ve played platformers where the environments all look the same more or less and it gets boring after a while. This ties into the sound and music. The music is extremely well done and fits the levels perfectly, some of them are catchy enough that I would start humming along (particularly in the water levels). Not to mention the music levels which are like "running man" stages where you run, jump and punch enemies to the beat of some familiar tunes (the "Eye of the Tiger" stage is my favorite). All in all I can’t find any reason to knock off points in this department, the character designs are great as well.
Judging a game like this by it’s story isn’t really fair, because there isn’t much of a story at all. How many times did Bowser kidnap peach? So I’m calling this more of a mood or tone of the game, which it has in spades. Basically, you play as Rayman and/or his friends and travel from world to world freeing Teensies (little blue guys, so cute!) that have been imprisoned by the bad guys. That’s pretty much it. But the way everything is presented is so wonderfully cheerful that it gives you the same sense of satisfaction that a good story can provide. There’s a lot of dancing and rejoicing at the end of each stage to give you a morale boost, I still love seeing Rayman flash the V for victory sign while grinning. This is a very good game to play when you need a little cheering up, I’ve done almost everything there is to do but still go back every so often when I’m sick of the rest of my game catalog.
Gameplay: 9/10 ~ Wii u version 10/10
Why separate scores for each version? Well, the thing is that this game was originally designed to be a Wii U exclusive. Having played both versions I can safely say the Wii U version is superior, but not so much so to make the Xbox version suffer much. This game for the most part plays like a lot of other platforming games. But it manages to set itself apart with tight controls that give you lots of options, intelligent level designs that will provide the necessary challenge and fun. Each stage has a certain number of Teensies to rescue (either 3 or 10) and two bosses per world (a mini boss and then a main boss). The bosses are all a lot of fun and tough to beat. It always feels like an epic encounter, and following the boss you are rewarded with a music level before moving to the next world. Truly, no two levels are the same and you will gradually improve your skills throughout the game until you finally get to the most challenging stages. This isn’t just a kids game. Almost anyone could probably clear the main game and beat the final boss, especially if you are playing co-op. So it is very casual-friendly. But for those of us looking for a challenge, the game also provides. Between the unlockable worlds, invasion paintings (time trials) and the online challenges there is plenty of content here for skilled players looking to test their abilities. There are loads of characters to unlock as well, and the replayability is fantastic. Like I said, this is a game I keep coming back to over a year after its release and I’m not that kind of gamer usually. I tend to just beat it and move on.
But the one thing dragging down the xbox (and other non-wii U) version is that in certain levels you are given control of Murphy, a frog that can manipulate certain things in the environment. Murphy can pull switches, move platforms, distract or kill enemies to help the main character along. In the Wii U version, this is very intuitive and fun. All you have to do is touch the item you are trying to affect and it just works. I had a blast in the Murphy stages on the Wii U, scribbling around the gamepad with my stylus feeling awesome. But on the Xbox they could be rather frustrating. You use the B button to have Murphy use whatever he is hovering over, which you can’t control. For the most part, the AI is good at telling which switch to move or what have you but sometimes you’ll be yelling at Murphy for causing your death. Luckily, the checkpoint system is very lenient. It works fine really, but it’s the one part of the game that isn’t fun on this version.
There are few games I’ll give a 10/10, since the standard seems to be that no game deserves a 10 (I disagree, why have a number in a rating system that never gets used? So wasteful, but I digress). Rayman Legends isn’t perfect, but it’s in spitting distance. You can tell that a lot of love was put into this game, and it’s cheerfulness is contagious. Whether you play alone or with friends, you’ll have a blast. There’s not much reason to avoid getting this now if you’re interested, the price has come down considerably. It will provide you with countless hours of entertainment, and probably end up saving you money because you won’t be buying all these 4-6 hour long platformers from the digital store. So take a chance, dear readers. Take control of the weird looking guy with disembodied limbs and kick some butt!
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