Note: I re-reviewed this game in 2017. Please disregard this original review.
So after years of working on and developing a franchise, you tell its creator to more or less reboot it, while trying to make it flop as hard as possible. What with your terrible timing for its release, where it’s first week sales in five digits was not surprising. Oh, but by the end of the year the game managed to make money because it was made by a small team. So you plan a bigger and better sequel, only to tell the creators to spend another six months on it before finally releasing it in a manner to maximize profit by putting it on everything. Is it good? Yes. How good is it? Let’s find out. Ready, one, two, three go!
Rayman Legends Review
Release Date: 03/9/2013
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, and Wii U
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Rig: AMD FX-8320, 8GB of RAM, Radeon HD 7770, Windows 7 64-bit, Xbox 360 controller
Following in suit with its predecessor when it comes to narrative, Rayman Legends’ plot can be summarized as Rayman and his mates ended up catching narcolepsy after saving the world last time. Causing them to slumber for a century while a Nightmare of some variation took over the land, and now it needs to be punched in the face while you reduce some Teensies because they’re cute. With there being over a hundred loosely related fashions to do such a thing, all of which can be represented by a painting in a little hub world, ala Mario 64.
Aside from that and the equivalent of shading placed over the flat colors of its predecessor, Rayman Legends does not deviate significantly from Origins. You’re still jumping, slapping, running, and collecting colorful objects that gather together as the game decides how much of a reward you’re going to get. All of which I very highly praised back in my Rayman Origins review, to the point where I gave the game a flawless score, as the worst I had to say was regarding how the difficulty spikes up in some of the later sections. Which Rayman Legends does address to some extent. With checkpoints being far more common, and the hardest sections in the game being based on how well you can use the mechanics to your advantage and master the game’s sense of flow.
Which is one aspect I recall praising above all others, and was a genuine concern for me back when it was a Wii U exclusive, as the character of Murfy would end up being a prominent mechanic that would require the player to look at another screen to have the stage move on. However, the multiplatform version of the game reduced him to a button, and the infamous delay is likely what scaled his importance down to roughly a sixth of the stages in the game. Which is where the game makes its largest distinction from its predecessor, by very clearly making there be specific stage types.
Origins did something similar, with the Mosquito and chest chasing levels selectively spaced out through the game with a time trial to go back to if you really needed to get all those electoons. While Legends is a splatter of a regular stage where you take your time and hunt for collectables. Murfy stages that are very similar, but you occasionally need to cut a rope or move a platform as you move along. Runner stages that are based solely on the flow, and how carefully you can catch a series of lums to get a bonus of the little fairies as you never let go of that sprint button. Invasion stages that are similar, but now you have 40 seconds to go through the challenge while finding as many exploits as possible in successive runs that can be as close as a millisecond or twelve whole seconds. Boss levels that are pretty self explanatory, as well as showing off how the Ubiart Engine can be used for a 2.5D game. Levels from Origins remade to incorporate the art and minor mechanical shifts. And rhythm levels, which are the best things that I called questioned if they were of very questionable design.
Not specifically the rhythm levels, as by themselves they are six of the best uses of music in games, and very well laid out, to the point where I almost wished there were no checkpoints, as it is very clearly rooted in emulating a licensed song remade to better fit the game’s world. Which in itself keeps the auditory quality fairly high, with a slightly more dramatic score than its predecessor. But then I was wrapping up my quest to save all 700 Teensies, I encountered 8-bit editions of the levels usually left to cap off a world upon the death of its boss. Which were the same stage in terms of basic layout, and even art assets, except for how the music was made to sound chiptune-ish, and the visuals were distorted to the point where they stood to be the challenge more than the actual stage. With extraordinarily compressed pixels, zoomed in fish’s eye lens, static whenever you jumped, or turning the screen upside down.
It brushes the line between the overall fairness of a challenge, in the same way that playing a game in negatives would, and while the argument regarding the player’s comprehension of the overall level design and timing it with the music is a valid one. That doesn’t stop the stages where you are reduced to an indistinguishable mesh of pixels from being a smidget annoying, as it encourages memorization as opposed to on the fly comprehension. Though, it is oddly more prevalent in the stages that stick with a theme, whereas the final, and supposedly most difficult stage is in the middle of the challenge spectrum.
Aside from that, the overall design of the levels continues to be top notch, with the sense of variety making it all the more like something I couldn’t help but plow through within four days. Which may sound a smidget small for a game that proclaimed to be the biggest in the series, at least nowadays, but the daily recycled challenge levels made from various stage assets certainly kept me returning, if only because they are there and rather fun. Despite how fawning over a gold trophy sounds like a bit too much of an exercise in mechanical exploitation for my tastes.
As for the visuals, the game has a rather lovely assortment of locales, characters, and set pieces ranging from a world inspired by the Day of the Dead, and an undersea stealth world that in all honesty has enough ideas to have been its own game. Along with fluent animations for every object, baddie, and even certain environments. It is among the most gorgeous games I own, although I am admittedly a sucker for 2D art.
Rayman Legends is a sequel to Rayman Origins, and one that was given far more time than it necessarily needed, but it results in a smorgasbord of content that maintains the quality of its predecessor. It is a happy, colorful, and downright fun game, with only a slightly more fantastical tone applied and a lot more emphasis on mastering the art of speed. And while some decisions are questionable, it surpasses its predecessor by being my favorite 2D platformer of all time. Though it contains 40 levels from Rayman Origins, so that choice was rather easy to make.
Excellent! (19/20) An exceptional product that is hindered by a few issues to the point where they are barely worth noting for this superb title. Definitely worth both your time and money.