by David Sanchez on September 18, 2013 @ 5:09 pm
When Rayman Origins launched back in 2011, it delivered loads upon loads of unbridled joy and cheery entertainment. It would go on to become quite the sleeper hit, so it only makes sense that Ubisoft decided to release a direct follow-up. Rayman Legends is bigger, bolder, and more colorful than Origins proved to be two years ago. The game delivers exactly the type of candy-colored, happiness-fueled experience you’d expect from Ubisoft’s limbless hero, and if you fancy yourself a fan of platformers or even just pure joy, you should pick up Legends without delay.
The adventure begins after Rayman and friends awake from a century-long sleep that leads to nightmares taking over the land. Once again, you’re tasked with saving the dimwitted Teensies and shiny Lums that act as a currency of sorts. Additionally, there are also several princesses that need saving (because what would a platformer be without princesses?), who immediately join your party of ragtag heroes upon being rescued.
As previously stated, Legends is much bigger than Origins was. It’s so much bigger, in fact, that it may seem a bit daunting at first. There are a bunch of wonderful levels crammed into each of the game’s worlds, and there are numerous rewards handed out for everything you accomplish. The best advice I can give you if you don’t know exactly how to progress in Legends is to just let go and do whatever the heck you want. You constantly unlock new worlds and levels, so you can go in a totally nonlinear path if you so desire.
Speaking of levels, stage design varies greatly, and you’re treated to some lovingly crafted challenges that differ as you progress. You’ve got regular platforming stages that play out pretty much like you’d expect out of a Rayman game. You run around bashing baddies, collecting Lums, and saving Teensies. These levels are, for all intents and purposes, the most fun you’re likely to have with this game. They’re traditional, challenging, and above all, just really fun to play.
At the end of each world is a special music stage. These are variations of the standard platforming fare you otherwise get, and they’re ridiculously entertaining. Everything you do, from smacking an enemy to collecting a string of carefully placed Lums goes along with the music, which just sounds awesome. It’s almost a shame that these types of levels only pop up at the end of each world, because they’re truly a blast to play through.
Invasion levels unlock after you’ve completed a handful of levels. These combine enemies and settings from two worlds, creating a bizarro land of sorts. They’re timed, too, putting the pressure on you and eliminating one of the three captured Teensies should you fail to meet any of the limit thresholds. These particular levels are rather fast-paced, but they’re also some of the more challenging stages in Legends. They seemingly replace the quick treasure chest chases from Origins, and while they’re not as good as those fantastic levels, they’re still easy to appreciate and will totally test your skills.
Murfy levels are easily the biggest change to the Rayman formula. These levels feature an auto-running Rayman and put you in control of the winged sprite/critter/thing Murfy, whose sole purpose is to cut down obstacles, move switches, and take out bad guys so the titular hero can get across safely. If you’re playing on the Wii U or Vita, every action is carried out on the touchscreen, while the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC versions use shoulder button presses.
I played Legends on the Wii U, and I felt that the touchscreen controls worked great. Being able to carry out Murfy’s actions on the GamePad feels organic, and I can’t imagine how dull these levels must be if you’re simply using buttons to make Murfy do things. In addition, you can access menu items, scratch prize tickets (more on these in a bit), and play Legends in its entirety on the touchscreen, which is really cool.
Now, back to those prize tickets I mentioned just now. If you collect a certain number of Lums in each stage, you’ll be rewarded with a prize ticket. You scratch these out like a granny would scratch away at a lotto ticket to unveil different prizes. Rewards include Teensies (necessary for unlocking levels), revamped stages from Origins, and Lums (which help unlock more playable characters).
Speaking of rewards, Legends is just constantly dishing out different rewards. The game never ceases to make you feel accomplished. Simply getting to the end of a level and snagging those Lums and Teensies is one thing, but when you also unlock an Origins level or new character, you get this insanely satisfying thrill. The entire time you play Legends, you get the sense that the dopamine levels in the pleasure centers if your brain are at a magnificent all-time high.
If you’d like to experience that sense of elation with others, you can definitely do so, as four-player co-op (five players on the Wii U) is fully supported. The multiplayer experience isn’t as joyous as playing on your own, though, due to other players getting in your way all too constantly — an issue that always reared its head in New Super Mario Bros. U. Still, it’s good to know that if you want to play with others, you most certainly can. There’s also the Kung Foot mode, which is basically action-based single-screen soccer.
The cheer doesn’t end there, though, because Legends features a fun Challenges mode that should scratch that competitive itch. This component offers up daily and weekly challenges, all of which are quicker than most of the levels. Here you can earn more Lums and trophies, but you also get the chance to compete for bragging rights. If you’re looking for that hook to keep you coming back to Legends, Challenges mode has a lot to offer.
Admittedly, this game does have a few not-so-favorable qualities. For starters, despite being constantly fun, Legends really takes off during the later parts of the second world. Sometimes it feels like the Murfy levels take over, and it’s not uncommon to play a few of those, which are good, before you get to the superior normal levels. Later on, things get more balanced, but if you’re solely in it for the regular stages, you may be bummed to find out that you’ll need to do just a tiny bit of digging first.
Thankfully, even if you do encounter some unsavory moments, you’ll always be treated to beautiful, fantastical lands. Every level is rich with style and charm, and it’s difficult not to get sucked into the world of Legends. The UbiArt design has been taken to another level, and Ubisoft Montpellier made sure to turn out one of the prettiest platformers in recent memory. The sound is also great, retaining that happy direction from Origins.
If you love having sheer bliss injected straight into your brain, you’re going to want to get your hands on Legends. It’s not as impactful as Origins was despite being a much bigger game, but it’s still one wild ride through a beautiful, magical, musical world. You could get to the end in less than 10 hours, but you could just as well spent upward of 40 hours doing and seeing everything, and it’s more than likely that you’re going to want to do exactly that. If you wanted more Rayman, Legends delivers in a big way.
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