Rayman Origins Review
Written : Sunday, November 20, 2011
By: Richard Walker
Rayman Origins is massive. Really massive. That's why it's not an episodic XBLA game as originally intended, but a full-blooded retail disc release instead, with all of the intrinsic value that entails. A result of Ubisoft's remarkable UbiART Framework, Rayman is also a deceptively cute game, which might look all sweet and innocent, yet beneath its gorgeous candy floss exterior lies a challenging platformer that won't fail to tax and entertain in equal measure.
For gamers of a certain age, Rayman Origins will also stoke the fires of nostalgia, harking back to a time when Sonic and Mario ruled the 2D platforming roost, with accessible, yet exacting gameplay that helped mould us into the players we are today. Rayman takes us back to those formative years, as well as partly returning to the gameplay from the original Rayman games, which it has to be said, were nowhere near as effortlessly charming and attractive as this new instalment in the franchise.
"That's not what we meant by having a hot ass."
Spread across six distinct worlds, Rayman Origins offers a nice variety of stages with different gameplay mechanics introduced as you progress and unlock each world. You'll start out with the basic abilities to jump and slap, but as you move on from the opening of the 'Jibberish Jungle' world, you'll gain the ability to flap your arms and float, before continuing to the 'Desert of Didgeridoos' and onto 'Gourmand Land', the 'Sea of Serendipity', 'Mystic Peak' and then on to the 'Moody Clouds'. With each world comes a completely different style and an accompanying ability you'll need to complete it. So, in the musical deserts, you'll float on the winds, while in the obligatory water level, you'll be able to dive and swim at speed, then you'll be able to run up walls and so on.
In each level, you'll have to track down and release a number of imprisoned 'Electoons': pink, chattering smiley-faced globules that have been caged up and left lying around at the end of every level, and hidden away in some of the harder-to-reach areas in each stage. Tracking down and earning Electoons counts towards unlocking extra stages wherein you have to chase down and smash a runaway treasure chest, at which point you earn a red ruby skull tooth that in turn counts towards opening up an extra seventh world called the 'Land of the Livid Dead'.
Gaining all of the Electoons will take ages, as you'll have to gather thousands of yellow 'Lums', with around 200-300 required at the end of each stage to fill up the meter and gain an additional two Lums and possibly a gold medal too. Then, if you want to earn all of the time medals, you'll have to replay all of the stages and set a speedy record through the level. There's an absolute ton to do, and a lot of it is remarkably tough, even for seasoned gamers like us. Buying this for a kid might induce fits of rage and frustrated tears, although playing in 4-player co-op certainly helps take the edge off. In co-op, you can play as Rayman, his buddy Globox, and two Teensies, and if one of you dies, they'll turn into a bubble that can be popped by another player to return them to the action. Work together as a team, and you could potentially breeze through Rayman Origins, but it remains a challenging game regardless.
From the Glade of Dreams screen, you'll be able to access the world map, which eventually opens out into a large hub with dozens of levels to beat. Each string of levels also has a flying section, in which you're picked up by a mosquito to take to the skies for some 2D scrolling shooter action. It's during these bits that you'll fight some of the game's bosses, inhaling bombs and shooting them back at your enemy, or staying within the boundaries of spotlights to weave your way through swarms of bats. Variety is the spice in Rayman Origins then, and with bags of charm to spare, you'll relish jumping around its beautiful levels, bursting with vibrant colour and wonderfully quirky animation.
"Darling it's better, down where it's wetter, under the sea!"
Collecting every last Lum and Electoon, as well as freeing every one of the nymphs from the jaws of a Darktoon starting with Betilla, soon becomes compulsive and addictive, although the game's difficulty level occasionally makes certain parts pretty hard work. Rayman is fantastically rewarding to play though, and especially fun if you can rope in three friends to play with you on the same console. Once you've freed enough Electoons from their forcefield protected cages, you'll access passages to further stages, which will keep you playing just to see what's around the next corner.
And with achievements attached to grabbing every last Electoon too, you'll want to scour every inch of each level, which in some cases will mean going back and replaying them again, just to sweep up those elusive few Lums and try to snap up those hard to get medals. Then you'll have to locate all of the hidden cages, earn all of the speed trophies – meaning repeated playthroughs – and complete some fun requirements in certain levels to get the full 1000 Gamerscore. Rayman Origins' list is enjoyable, but the repetition that it demands might put some players off a bit.
There's something incredibly nostalgic about Rayman Origins, from the Glade of Dreams world map where you access each level, to the completist approach that encourages you to fill every medallion with the requisite number of pink Electoons and thoroughly explore every stage. Gorgeous to look at, a joy to play and boasting bags of charm to spare, Rayman Origins is a glorious side-scrolling platformer that demands to be played either alone or (preferably) with friends. It's simply fantastic.
A bright, breezy soundtrack with helium-voiced singing and sweet tunes that can't fail to raise a smile.
The UbiART Framework lends Rayman Origins a unique cartoon style, with brilliantly quirky animation and characters that you can't help but love. It's über-colourful, bold, striking and utterly gorgeous.
Good, wholesome fun in single-player, even more enjoyable with friends, Rayman Origins is an unbridled joy from start to finish, whatever way you decide to play it. Some (possibly younger players) may find it a little too difficult though.
Rayman Origins is surprisingly expansive, with a huge variety of stages, each hiding away an array of hidden areas and secrets. Completing everything in the Glade of Dreams and unlocking everything, including the bonus player skins in the Snoozing Tree, will take absolutely ages.
A good, solid list of achievements to wade through, offering plenty for the completists and a little something for those who like side-challenges such as surviving a dip in piranha-infested waters, or completing a level without being hit once.
A triumphant comeback for the series, Rayman Origins sees the influence of creator Michel Ancel at work once more, and a strong showing for Ubisoft's hand-drawn UbiART Framework, giving the game a unique and stunning style that's entirely its own thing. Rayman Origins is addictive, entertaining and quite possibly the best 2D platformer money can buy on Xbox 360.
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