What can I say about last year’s Rayman Origins that I have not already said? That it was one of my favorite games of 2011, possibly one of the best platformers of this generation? That it looked, sounded, and played amazingly? Naturally, with such a high opinion of the game, I was giddy with excitement when Ubisoft announced its sequel – Rayman Legends.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Wii U version of Rayman Legends at the Nintendo booth, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve got another winner on our hands. Read on to find out why.
Right from the start, Rayman Legends somehow manages to surpass its predecessor in terms of sheer beauty. I don’t know what sort of wizardry Michel Ancel has up his French sleeves, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t the prettiest game around, featuring amazingly sharp and colorful hand-drawn artwork, and a whimsical style that you’d need to be truly heartless to not appreciate.
More importantly, of course, is how Rayman Legends plays. I’m happy to report that it is as responsive and challenging as Origins was. I initially played as Rayman himself using the Wii U Pro Controller, which feels more or less just like an Xbox 360 controller except for the placement of the right thumbstick. This aspect of the game is largely unchanged at its core – you run, jump, glide, kick, punch, slide, swim, etc., on a quest to collect those ever present Lums.
Wii U brings a little something extra to the table here, however. His name is Murphy, and he’s a helpful little fly who you’ll likely recognize him from previous Rayman games. You control Murphy using only the touch screen and gyroscopic functions of the Wii U Game Pad, and he’s got a variety of functions. Murphy can raise or lower platforms, cut ropes, stun enemies or pick them up off the ground, rotate obstacles, turn yellow lums into more valuable purple lums, and more. It’s all a simple matter of flicking your finger across the screen, tapping, or rotating the Game Pad at the proper times. But don’t be fooled – your reflexes need to be just as sharp as they are when playing as Rayman.
Using Murphy is more compelling and intuitive than it sounds. My initial concern was that his presence would make the game seem easy or gimmicky, when in fact, the opposite is true. Though it remains to be seen how much you’ll actually need to rely on Murphy in the final game, effective communication and coordination between players is vital to success, even more so when you get multiple people playing (though there can only be one Murphy at a time). I can only assume there will be a Wii U specific set of levels for Murphy, as opposed to designing the entire game around him.
Though my time with Rayman Legends was brief, (the demo contained probably 15 minutes of gameplay if you play through once as Rayman and again as Murphy) it was a joy just the same. No release date has yet been announced, though with Ubisoft’s typical push to have the most launch titles on any given new console, you can likely expect to see it around the time the Wii U launches, whenever that may be. It’ll also be coming to Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and 3DS.