Review by ChronoCactaur

"Rayman Origins marks a new beginning for the limbless hero"

Welcome to another one of ChronoCactaur's reviews, and what will likely be my last review of 2011. Rest assured, it's a good one.

Rayman is a platforming mascot that harkens over 16 years ago, in 1995. The original Rayman was a flawed but very enjoyable 2D platformer, on a console that lacked them at the time. I feel Rayman Origins serves a very similar purpose for the Xbox 360, though not so much for the PS3 and especially the Wii. Yes, Rayman Origins is available for the three leading game platforms, but if you own an Xbox 360 you should get it for that console, as it desperately needs a retail 2D platformer. The PS3 can stand on its own with LittleBigplanet 1 & 2, while the Wii has New Super Mario Bros. Donkey Kong Country Returns, two Kirby games, and A Boy & His Blob. Obviously, the Wii version does not output in High Definition, but it is compatible with the Classic Controller. The 360 & PS3 versions are virtually undistinguishable in terms of visuals and framerate and such, but as mentioned it would be wiser to get the 360 version, as the PS3 isn't short on retail 2D platformers.

On to the actual game itself, Rayman Origins plays like a heavily updated Rayman 1, but it offers up to 4 player local co-op wherein players can play as Globox of Rayman 2 fame, and two elf-like creatures. Even Player 1 can change characters however, which was something lacking from any Wii 2D platformer. All of the characters function the same way, but the way they do it is different. For example, Rayman punches to attack, while Globox slaps and the elves seem to use magic. Rayman doesn't start out with the helicopter spin or even the ability to attack until after completing the first level(for punching), and the first level of the second world(for helicopter spin). Once you acquire these key abilities though, the game begins to fully open up to the player, as certain challenges such as Treasure Chest levels and Time Trials will require the player have every useful skill in the Rayman universe, and then some. The difficulty, while not as hard as something like Donkey Kong Country Returns, won't be a cakewalk. While Rayman Origins doesn't utilize lives, the difficulty is more dependent on getting to the next checkpoint. If you die you restart at the previous checkpoint until you reach the next, and sometimes it's definitely easier said than done. So how would I rate Rayman Origins overall in terms of difficulty? Slightly above a Mario title, below Donkey Kong Country Returns, more forgiving than Super Meat Boy, but not as much of a cakewalk as Kirby's Epic Yarn. That is to say, this game is on "Medium Difficulty" for the most part, though it can throw some curveballs near the end, as to be expected. The previously mentioned Treasure Chest levels are challenges where Rayman must chase the Treasure Chest while running as fast as he can(By holding down any of the shoulder buttons). These challenges get progressively harder, and are on a different difficulty plane than the main game.

The goal of any given level is not just get to the end, you must also rescue Electoons to unlock those treasure chest levels and also to progress to the next world. Each level generally features 6 electoons, where 3 of them must be freed from a cage, two must be earned by collecting enough Lums(Usually 300), and one by completing the silver time on a time trial(With the gold reward being a trophy). Collecting 300(Or 350 for the Medal) Lums can be a bit cumbersome in some levels, but the placement is generally genius game design that demands precision, and the player is adequately rewarded for it.

The story of Rayman Origins is minimal, but gets the job done. From the opening cutscene one can assume that Rayman and friends' snoozing has angered the dead, and now they are taking revenge on them because of it. The fairies have been kidnapped, and must be rescued to progress. The first one, Betilla, is quickly rescued in the first tutorial level, and she teaches you the ability to punch & kick so Rayman and friends have more options to attack. After completing the first world, Jibberish Jungle, Rayman and friends reach Betilla again, but must have acquired a certain amount of Electoons first. Once Rayman & friends have the adequate amount of Electoons, a bonus level is initiated. Afterwards, a boss level insues, sometimes with a unique gimmick. In the first boss level, the Moskito from the original Rayman returns and offers a 2D shooter. The boss levels not only serve as the gateway between worlds, but serve to change up the gameplay in often meaningful ways.

Lastly, the artistic direction in this game is eye candy. The graphics are reminiscent of a moving painting, or even a cartoon. Even the in-game graphics are top notch pixel work; Developer Ubiart Montpellier should be proud of their work. Everything, from the way characters move, to the way the environment reacts to the player, is articulated with extreme prejudice and detail.

Rayman may have had some lows in the recent past, but I feel Rayman Origins is the return to form the limbless hero so desperately needed, and boy is it a good one. Even though I only mildly enjoyed the original Rayman, I found myself engrossed in Origins in a way only a Nintendo game could capture me. To achieve such magic, this game deserves no less than the perfect score. Pick this game up as soon as you can afford it, because it's worth your money. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, I'm going back to play some more Rayman!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 12/14/11

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

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