Second from the right is rayman
Rayman legends leaves players breathless and thrilled with imaginative worlds
The genre of side-scrollers has been fed mainly from the independent side in the last few years. There were games like super meat boy and vvvvvv, which scored with hardcore skill challenges. And there were games like limbo or the swapper, which enrich the two-dimensional platforming with exciting riddles. Not only did the 2-d sneaky game mark of the ninja get outstanding reviews, but so did the pixelated cavernous adventure spelunky, which just made the jump to ps3 and ps vita. While indie side-scrollers have flourished, grossing publishers have largely been confined to established brands like mario bros., sonic and littlebigplanet. Rayman is also an established brand – it’s been around since 1995. What is amazing, however, is that she shows no signs of age and is only partially subordinate to the mainstream. The just released rayman legends exudes a spirit that is more reminiscent of an indie production in its freshness.
This freshness has little to do with the basic game principle. For rayman and his dangers do above all what they have always done: they run, jump and hand out slaps – the whole thing often at an insane pace. The variety of rayman legends lies rather in the thematic diversity of its game worlds, the expressiveness of its characters and the constantly new tasks that the game stages in a spectacular way.
Some of the game worlds – there are six in total – have an almost surreal atmosphere. The most outstanding example is the "fiesta de los muertos", the game design legend michel ancel was inspired by the mexican day of the dead. In this world, rayman gymnastics through a grotesquely oversized food landscape: tomato halves serve as trampolines, sliced cucumbers as bridges, and time and again rayman must dodge torrents of chili sauce. On sugar-soaked snacks he glides towards the abyss, only to save himself at the last moment by double jumping onto a cake platform, where he immediately gives a dancing skeleton a slap in the face. The cake, on the other hand, often has sharp friction teeth: to get through them unscathed, rayman must stalk his way through the tunnels that tausendfubler have previously eaten into the baked goods. If you don’t pay attention for a moment, you’ll end up in glowing chili sauce – or in a rather uncomfortable bed of cactus spikes.
The plot is, as in previous rayman games, only a minor matter. To cut a long story short: while rayman, globox and the little ones slept for a century, nightmares conquered the world and kidnapped the little ones. Rayman and his companions, with the help of the cunning murfy, set out to free the prisoners and put a stop to the evil-doers. As usual, players can choose which part of the world they want to explore first – however, the choice is still limited at the beginning of the game and expands as you free smalllings and collect lums.
The entrances to the sub-worlds are located in paintings, which are placed in a wide gallery – so the structure of the game remains reasonably clear, even in the face of numerous side missions. Rayman legends offers no less than 120 levels, 40 of which are taken from the previous rayman origins and remastered. A special challenge is the "invaded"-version of the levels: it is not only peppered with new enemies and traps, but must also be completed in a certain time. There are also some boss fights to pass in rayman legends: thus ends the "fiesta de los muertos" with the fight against a huge catcher, which has to be dealt with by skillful jumping and by needle-like attacks. To make the boss fights even more unpredictable, the developers have even included 3d elements.
Of course, rayman legends is most fun not alone, but in a group. Catch for pc, ps3 and xbox 360 offers a local co-op mode for a maximum of four players: as characters are available rayman, globox , the sword-wielding heroine barbara and the kleinlinge. In the wii u version, an additional player can control the character murfy via the touchpad. On the ps3, this is supposed to be possible in conjunction with the ps vita – the latter’s catch, however, won’t be released until 12. September. The flying goblin murfy takes a special position in rayman legends: he can reach even remote points that are denied to the jumping heroes. To support the dangers, murfy can cut ropes, turn platforms, hold enemies and collect lums. The corresponding puzzles are quite easy to solve – but it is crucial to find the right timing and the necessary accuracy in the co-op hustle and bustle.
It should be noted that murfy mode is tailored primarily to the capabilities of the wii u. Rayman legends was originally planned as a launch title for the nintendo console, but was then postponed. Behind this was ubisoft’s decision to release the game as a multiplatform title, so the already finished wii u catch was put on hold for the time being. Fans were so incensed by the delay, by the way, that they started a petition – in february 2013, even michel ancel joined the protests. These controversies are now over, but the murfy gameplay doesn’t quite fit the single player mode on pc, ps3 and xbox 360. Here you have to do both tasks: with the push of a button, rayman jumps to build a melting bridge or cut a rope in the next moment as murfy. For the average player these lightning changes are a challenge – so be prepared for dozens of premature deaths, especially on the higher levels. Fortunately, the save points are fairly distributed in the game, so you rarely have to repeat longer sections. The murfy levels in the wii u’s single-player mode work differently again, by the way: here you switch to the gamepad to control the temporarily ai-controlled rayman.
Rayman legends is beyond reproach when it comes to level design. New challenges are constantly found: sometimes you sneak like an agent through laser-monitored chambers or dive through mined underwater worlds ("20.000 lums under the sea"), sometimes you jump and float through the jungle in lofty heights ("the magic crout"). It is worth exploring every seemingly insignificant corner, because everywhere you will come across hidden level keys with trapped little creatures. If you want to loosen up between the increasingly demanding missions, you can also play a game of kung foot: the turbulent fubball mini-game is almost worth a spin-off.
Rayman legends plays out its very rough strengths atmospherically. Lovable heroes, brightly colored levels and a driving soundtrack make the side-scroller a total work of art. Highly entertaining are the levels in which enemies and traps appear in time to the music. A breathless parcours, in addition the sounds of ram jams "black betty" – this mixture rubs even the most hardened gamblers with.