The platforming genre has been around for a long time, and it once was the strongest genre with the power to sell systems. There is an undeniable downfall in the genre of gaming as many popular 2D titles have found problems in switching to a 3D style. You can think of any Sonic game as evidence of that. That’s not to say all have failed, Mario is still extremely popular in 3D elements. Some games have proven that updating to 3D isn’t necessary, and staying in 2D could actually be the wisest choice. Rayman has proven this perfectly with their successful game Rayman Origins, and now continuing their success with one of the greatest platforming games to date: Rayman Legends.
There is a story for those that care, even if it doesn’t matter at all. Rayman and his friends were slumbering as the world was being taken over by evil. Rayman and friends wake to discover the princess and teensies have been taken prisoner by the nightmares and five evil teensies. It’s up to you to save them. The story is only there to give some reason for why you are doing what you’re doing. It’s not a bad thing; it keeps the game focused entirely on the amazing gameplay instead.
The first thing you’ll notice when you boot this game up is the remarkable graphical presentation. It will blow you away with its artistic style. It’s cartoony, it’s silly, it’s colorful, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The game’s color scheme is wonderfully vivid, and it causes everything to pop out at you. The characters, enemies, landscapes, and bosses are all original looking while being incredibly eye appealing. The different themes across the varied worlds are unbelievably creative in their presentation, and you’ll always be amazed at what comes next. Are there any other adjectives I can throw out there to describe the presentation of this game? How about calling this game remarkable, extraordinary, inventive, expressive, and most of all, a refreshing take on video game art.
The very next thing you’ll notice is the catchy music. A majority of the time it’s simple, to the point where the entire background music might be someone whistling. It’s still addicting, and it won’t take long for you to whistle along. It’s charming in its simplistic melodies that are still blissful to ears. At other times, the songs become dramatically complex with a plethora of instruments coming alive to cheer you on your endeavors. Rayman Legends exceeds in this department so highly do to the fact that the music isn’t only catchy, it also ties intricately into the gameplay so well that everything you do matches the musical backing. Sneaking through a maze of lasers and enemies with flashlights feels authentic, when the music begins playing a theme that could come straight out of a James Bond movie. The theatrical entrance of a boss is only equally matched by the composition played besides it. Everything goes hand-in-hand, and it makes Rayman Legends an even better experience.
It isn’t the style alone that gives this game such a unique feel. It’s the atmosphere across the entire game that really draws out what can only be described as a Looney Tunes vibe. The silly expressions on characters faces, the music tied directly into the quirkiness, and the classic slapstick comedy that strikes true into the most cynical of hearts to bring out that cheery smile we all have. Rayman Legends has a magical ability to make you laugh and feel good over the stupidest stuff. When you finish a level, the character and Teensies start dancing as celebratory music plays while an invisible audience’s applause congratulates you. It’s so ridiculous and absurd it gives you this silly warm feeling inside. It isn’t the gameplay alone that makes this game a blast to play—it’s everything.
Now you know the game looks great, sounds great, and feels great, but how does it play? It’s one of the greatest platforming experiences in recent years, that’s how. The game starts out with the most basic of elements for this genre. You run, jump, and punch enemies. It’s what you expect to find in a solid game. It’s fun and entertaining, but the game doesn’t shine right away. It helps you learn the controls, and grow use to how the game will play. Once the game picks up, you begin to realize how incredible Rayman Legends actually is. Jumping over gaps was quickly replaced by being chased by a wall of fire as I had to move platforms quickly, wall jump, bounce of enemies, swing from ropes, and never miss a beat or meet my demise. You learn something new and must apply it to proceed through a level, but the game doesn’t let you forget anything you previously leaned. Each new level implements new and old techniques keeping you on your toes at all time, and it’s exactly how a game like this should play.
A platformer is nothing without creative levels and Rayman Legends succeeds once again. I’ve already discussed how the game is remarkable with colors and graphical presentation, but now I’m talking about the levels layout. Every world has a theme, and each level creatively represents those themes. The levels vary greatly from one another, and every time you start the next level, you’ll be surprised by how new it feels. Some levels involve precise movements, others have a lot of enemies, some require speed, others are underwater or in the sky, and each one brings something new to the table. Rayman Legends never grows old, the levels never feel repetitive, and you will never be bored playing this game. The gameplay is constantly mixed between levels that it always stays refreshing. Once you finish a level you’ll quickly start the next and be wowed by the completely new experience.
Rayman Legends exceeds so highly because it adds something to every level that causes it to go above and beyond. Every level has a rhythm that, once found, creates a smooth flow almost like a map to bypass every obstacle. You can take your time and explore – something equally important to find all the teensies on each level – or you can rush through a level as fast as possible. Each level can be played at speed; there is no pause to think about how to get passed hindering terrain. Once you see the problem in front of you, you immediately know how to circumvent the issue. It just becomes a matter of succeeding in the maneuver. You’ll know when you discover this hidden rhythm. Everything will click perfectly as you move speedily through a level dodging enemies and jumping off walls without hesitation. You’ll be narrowly avoiding death, but never stopping in fear slowing down may negatively affect your performance.
As previously stated, there are things to collect in the levels. There are Lums, which are needed to unlock characters, with the last one requiring a million Lums so it will definitely take some time to reach that goal. You also need to collect Teensies that are hidden throughout the levels to progress through the game. They aren’t always tough to find, but you need them to unlock some levels. It was never an unfair amount needed which is a great thing. You may need to play an extra level or two, but you’ll never need to grind a level relentlessly searching for every last Teensie. Unless you want to, that is. Truthfully, this game is pure gold for completionists, since there is a ton of end-game content that requires a large amount of Teensies and Lums to unlock.
The main levels can be beaten in a matter of hours, but that isn’t the point of this game. As you play, you will continually unlock new content, mostly through lottery tickets you win. They are a little gimmicky, but it is Legends’ silly way of unlocking content for you. This ranges from creatures you can collect, Lums, and then even new levels, including some remastered ones from Origins. They aren’t as fun as Legends’ levels and if you own Origins already they won’t do much for you. However, it is a good amount of Origins levels, and it is technically a bonus you who’s complaining.
Worrying about beating the game and having nothing else to do after is as silly as Legends itself. There are daily online challenges to try and get high scores on, which is not an easy task and far more addicting than you may originally believe. There are also Invasion levels that are basically a time attack mode. If you beat a level in forty seconds you safe three teensies, fifty seconds saves two teensies, and sixty seconds will earn you only one teensie. It doesn’t sound like that great of an extra, but I found myself obsessed with these levels. They can be immensely tough, but never really cause unwarranted frustration. In another brilliant move on Ubisoft Montpellier these levels are so short, that when you fail, it happens in a matter of seconds, so you don’t mind starting over. These levels require very strict actions on your part, and generally have a path that you need to stick closely too. Remember that rhythm thing I mentioned earlier? That holds especially true for this Invasion levels, if you can’t find the proper flow, you’ll never save all three teensies.
The best part about Rayman Legends is a very basic principle that every video game tries to accomplish, but it can end up being the hardest to actually achieve. Legends is downright riotous fun! The game is silly, loud, and an absolute blast to play. It’s just plain fun. I popped this disc in thinking I might play a level or two, and then pick it up another day. Then, I played a very creative level that was a musical rendition of Black Betty and I was hooked. Legends took over my life for days as I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s so creative in every way that I sit there with a wide grin on my face. I can’t remember having this much fun with a video game in a long time. Playing with friends makes the experience even more enjoyable, and it’s highly suggested you find some to play with. Even the random soccer mini-game that’s included ends up being a blast as well. There is only one flaw to this game. It has no online-coop, and that’s a big disappointment. It’s meant to be played with friends, so having to gather on one system isn’t the biggest problem, but for some people it can be.
Buy this game! There, that’s my review. If you like platformers, buy this game immediately, and if you don’t like platformers, then buy it anyways, because it will make you love platformers. This creative masterpiece will suck you in with its robust graphics, creative gameplay, and addicting music to really stand out as one of the most memorable games you will play. I couldn’t stop playing this game from the second I got it. The quirkiness, the beautiful art, the sheer enjoyment in the experience is worth every dollar. Whatever you’re doing, stop, and go play this game.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PlayStation 3 version of Rayman Legends developed and published by Ubisoft