After suffering nine long years of lackluster 3D titles and spin-offs, the Rayman series made a complete 360 and rejuvenated itself by going back to its 2D side-scrolling roots with the wonderful Rayman Origins. Rayman Legends takes all that was great about Origins and improves upon it with its limitless creativity and entertaining originality.
Legends occurs 100 years after Origins. Near the end of his century-long slumber, Polokus the bubble dreamer begins to undergo nightmares that surface from his pipe, in the form of bubbles, as vicious realities and take over the land. As soon as he realizes his mistake, the long-bearded, bubble-blowing sage sends out his right hand man, Murfy the frog fairy, to wake Rayman and his crew. Once the limbless hero is up and running, he combines forces with friends, old and new, to take down the five obnoxious Lum warlocks and their armies of darkness.
The story draws its inspiration from the classic medieval tale about a fearless knight that saves a helpless princess from an evil wizard and its fire-breathing dragon. Although it tends to annoyingly repeat itself, the narrative is, at its core, a simple, lovable tale that can be enjoyed by any age group.
Just like Origins and the original Rayman, Legends is a 2D side-scrolling action puzzle platforming title. No one level is the same as the next. Puzzles are always changing, and are intensely challenging in the latter half of the game. The puzzle type that intrigued me the most was the circular, rotateable maze that was filled with spikes and other dangerous contraptions.
The world map is set up as a clean and easy-to-navigate art exhibit. To start a level, the player simply jumps into a painting. There are five worlds to explore, and each contains six levels, a boss battle and a crazy musical number. All five worlds are extremely diverse; they feature specific themes and utilize a plethora of hilarious pop culture references. For example, the world 20,000 Lums Under the Sea is portrayed as a deep-sea spy flick that is modeled after the James Bond series and uses parody songs such as Dive Another Day, The Spy Who Kicked Me and Toadfinger.
The score is, undeniably, the best part of Legends. It is cinematic, charming, witty, nostalgia inducing and a pleasure to listen to. Without it, the game would feel empty.
The art direction is phenomenal. Legends is chock-full of impressively gorgeous hand-drawn characters and levels that burst into wonderful animation with every color palate imaginable. While the player moves through the animated levels, the world takes on a life of its own in the foreground and background. For example, during many of the dungeon levels, small, brown, big-eyed mice sit on the edge of the player’s screen, gnaw on objects and stare into space. It’s amusing and cute.
Enemy types are constantly being switched up, and every object in the environment, except for the platforms, is a threat to the player’s life. It’s exhilarating. The bosses are blast to defeat as well.
A new, nifty feature in the game is Murfy the fairy frog. Murfy acts as a helping hand and assists the player in reaching unreachable areas by providing him or her with platforms that are floating around the level. He can also tickle large, dangerous enemies and create new paths for the player. The fairy frog is a splendid in-game tool that not only adds a second layer of gameplay to the sections, but makes them more challenging because it forces the player to concentrate on two tasks at once during all of the chaos.
In Origins, players collected trapped electoons. Now, the player must liberate imprisoned teensies, which are spread and hidden throughout the levels. There are 10 teensies per level and approximately 700 to collect. These little, blue, large-nosed creatures are used to gain access to new stages in the game’s story mode. The player can also gather tiny, energetic, yellow balls of light with fairy wings, eyes and arms called lums, which help the player unlock new in-game characters and character skins.
Another new in-game addition to the Rayman franchise is the lucky ticket. These addicting, scratch off lottery tickets always supply the player with a prize. The prizes include lums, teensies, remastered Rayman Origins levels and special creatures. The critters help the player by producing more lums.
The control scheme is tight. Any error that the player makes is his or her fault, and the player will die many times.
Game over screens are non-existent in Legends. Players can die as many times as they want, go back to the nearest checkpoint and back track through the level for fun without the fear of losing significant progress. Having unlimited lives and multiple checkpoints lifted a ton of weight off my shoulders, and allowed me to be completely immersed in the world.
Once the campaign has come to an end, the player still has so much more to explore. He or she can tackle Ubisoft’s daily extreme challenges, unlock more characters and levels, gather more teensies, lums and lucky tickets, play little timed mini missions or play King Foot a.k.a. 2D soccer with friends. The possibilities are endless.
Rayman Legends is everything a video game sequel is supposed to be. It’s exciting, visually stimulating, unique and not afraid to take chances. Legends is, most certainly, an adventure worth taking part in.