Review by Archmonk Iga

"Michel Ancel's lovable hero finally returns in one of the greatest 2D platformers of all time."

With most of my Rayman experiences involving insane bunny mini-games and about five minutes of the original PC version, I didn't know what to expect going into Origins. After spending well over 40 hours doing all there is to do with this wonderful platformer, I wonder if anyone, including Ubisoft themselves, will be able to match it. This generation has brought us some unbelievably amazing 2D platform games – Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby's Epic Yarn, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and LittleBigPlanet 2 are among my favorites – but Rayman Origins somehow manages to beat out them all. It looks and sounds phenomenal, it has limitless charm and humor, it's challenging yet accessible, and it's great whether you're alone or with friends. In a word, Rayman Origins is masterful. 2D platformers don't get much recognition unless they star the mustached plumber, but if you have ANY system of this generation, then this unforgettable sidescroller should definitely be on your to-play list.

Rayman and his buddies are chillin' out in a tree, when one of its residents gets annoyed and releases all sorts of trouble into the world. So Rayman and company set out to rid the world of this evil magic, smiling and dancing all the while.

A logical story in Rayman Origins is nearly nonexistent—it's the humor that makes the presentation so brilliant. The writing is so witty and the physical humor will have you laughing out loud around every turn. I have played some funny games in my time, but the offbeat quirkiness of Rayman Origins has given it a special place in my heart. I'm not sure if other Rayman games are like this (aside from Raving Rabids), but the hilarities are out in full force throughout the game's entirety.

Although my copy of Rayman Origins is the Wii version (480p), it looks nearly as great as its counterparts—I know, because I've played my friends' versions of the games too (360 and PC).

If you have seen the screenshots, you can tell how original and clever the art direction is. When you see it in motion, you will be in utter awe. It's fluid, it's colorful, it's comical, it's everything we could ask for in a cartoony sidescroller like this. Every single level is its own spectacle, and the enemy designs are so distinguishable that you'll wonder what kinds of crazy minds were at work on this game. You will never, and I mean NEVER, be unimpressed by the visuals in Rayman Origins. It may well be the best-looking 2D platformer of all time.

I don't even know where to begin with this. The soundtrack in Rayman Origins is all types of wacky—chipmunk-like hums backed up by string sections, rockabilly banjo with “chase scene” energy, even mariachi trumpets with deep, bellowing laughter in the background are only a few highlights of this game's awesome soundtrack. Sure, you've never seen any game like Rayman Origins before… but you also certainly have never heard any game like it before, either. I never got tired of hearing those lums break out into pitch-perfect “bop-ba” harmonies in each and every level. This is a soundtrack that will stick in your head for days and days.

Sound effects are similarly wacky—each time you collect a lum, a random note will play. It's little things like this that make playing a Mario game seem so much less appealing, what with that same exact sound effect playing for every coin you touch.

As if Rayman Origins couldn't sound any more unique than it already does, the excellent writing is voiced in… wait for it… Pig Latin (o-nay, eriously-say). And with all these silly characters with their silly voices speaking in this silly language, you can count on even more laughs while playing.
SOUNDS: 10/10

So sure, it looks and sounds charming, but how does it play? As you'd expect, Rayman Origins has its players generally move from left to right to complete each stage. There is lots of jumping and running, there are deadly spikes and pits, and there are enemies around every corner. But this game separates itself in many great ways from other 2D platformers, allowing any kind of gamer to jump in and have lots of fun.

Rayman and his friends are all pretty hardy—if they get tired of jumping on the baddies then they can slap, kick or punch them if they'd like. And there are MANY different types of baddies in all these levels. There's even a cool run-and-spin move that can be very dangerous for your foes, not to mention it gives you a great speed boost and some extra jump-distance. As you progress through the earlier stages, your characters will gain new powerups. Abilities like running up walls, hovering and shrinking all help you progress.

But what about that collecting I mentioned earlier? One of the great things about collecting in Rayman Origins is that it does a whole lot more than give you extra lives—heck, this game doesn't even have any lives, since a death means you simply start at the last checkpoint. To advance to later levels, you will need to save the pink, ponytailed balls called “electoons.” These little ladies are found hidden throughout every level, and can also be obtained by collecting enough “lums” (little yellow bug thingies) to fill up a meter. There are 246 electoons to save in total, and doing so will require a lot of hard work and dedication. Whether you want to collect them all is up to you, but the satisfaction of doing so is unlike anything you've experienced before in a 2D platformer. You can even get a golden medallion if you get enough extra lums in certain levels, making your pride as a Rayman Origins player even stronger. Honestly, the level of emphasis on collecting in Rayman Origins is so spot-on that I never once got bored with it.

Perhaps, though, the greatest thing about Rayman Origins is the entire world you explore. The sights and sounds in each and every level bring out certain feelings that most games these days can't do. I don't want to give anything away because the level design is really that good, but once you play it for yourself you will see what I'm saying. The bosses are both challenging and entertaining, too. Even the water levels are exceptional—the swimming controls are perfectly-implemented. And how could I forget the mosquito-riding levels? And what about those intense treasure chases? Whether you're playing a standard 2D platformer level or something completely off-the-wall, your time spent with Rayman Origins is sure to give you a ton of fun and challenge.

Oh, and did I mention it's a multiplayer game? Up to four people can join in together, and I have succeeded in doing that the moment I've shown this game off to friends. Even people unfamiliar with Rayman will be drawn in by its unique style, and the laughs the game provides will increase tenfold if you play with other people. If you want to master the game, however, going it solo might be your best bet—things can get VERY crazy with even just two people playing together.

Rayman Origins's gameplay is perfect for any gamer on the spectrum from casual to hardcore. A little kid would love it, an adult would love it, any fan of videogames will have a blast. It's tough and at times unforgiving, yet it's always rewarding and entertaining. Screwing up will only increase your motivation to try harder. That motivation can be attributed to everything you have read above and will read below.

With 246 electoons to collect, secret characters, ten treasure chases, a medallion to earn and a time trial for each normal level, and some very fun multiplayer, Rayman Origins is a game that you should most definitely buy and keep next to your game console of choice at all times. It has taken me 40+ hours to finally master this game, but I know I will increase that count with solo replays as well as bringing my friends into the mix. I'm not just making this up—when people see this game they WILL be amazed and they WILL want to join in on the fun. With a world plagued with bloody first-person shooters and MMORPGs, who would have seen this little sidescroller packing so much punch?

Is Rayman Origins my favorite 2D platformer ever? I don't know yet, I've played quite a few in my day. It's in the running though, that's for sure. It's got everything we could ask for in a game of this type—laughs, surprises, challenge, beauty, fun, and the opportunity to play with friends. It takes chances and they pay off, it slips under the radar while Mario dominates in the same old ways, and it rewards the few of us lucky enough to notice it with some of the best sidescrolling we will ever experience. Rayman Origins is a masterpiece.
OVERALL: 9.8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/20/12

Game Release: Rayman Origins (US, 11/15/11)

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