Rayman Legend(ary)s

2 Dec

Video games as a medium and as a vehicle for stories have advanced beyond the point of just being toys for children. Video games can tell stories that intrigue people as much as Shakespeare, and look as gorgeous as a new Pixar movie. It’s pretty surprising however to see simplistic games such as the Rayman titles not only survive in the current market but also thrive.

Rayman Legends, released Sept. 3, was developed by the Montpellier branch of Ubisoft and directed by series creator Michel Ancel and the same, beautiful cartoony atmosphere and presentation. Even though Ancel and the team that worked on Origins is present, Legends takes what Origins perfected and attempts to take it further, but it ultimately misses what made Origins a nearly perfect experience.

Set in a surreal world created by an old shaman like character called the “Bubble Dreamer”, Legends features the titular character of Rayman, a limbless hero of sorts, his best friend, a blue frog named Globox, a new character, the warrior princess Barbara and little creatures called the “Teensies” jumping back into action as the nightmares caused by evil Teensies plague their world once again. The group must traverse through different worlds via magical paintings in order to save kidnapped Teensies and magical sprites known as Lums from the Nightmares’ clutches.

RaymanLegends

As convoluted as the story may sound it, like the one found in Origins is extremely cut and dry and borderline random, which is the point. It’s just a simple framing device for the game. There is only one line of discernible dialogue in the whole game while the rest is comedic gibberish.

Legends is a basic 2D side scroll platform game reminiscent of old Mario games with 4-player co-op, and has you jumping, punching, and floating your way through six themed worlds including a Medieval fantasy setting with dragons and ogres, and a mouth-watering food world designed after the Mexican holiday, Dia de Muertos filled with colorful skeletons and cake.

Origins was noted as having incredibly jarring difficulty spikes and Legends addresses this with more forgiving checkpoints and ample foresight into what you have to do in each level, reducing the need for frustrating memorization. Legends features new content like a soccer mini game, costumes, pets and daily challenges for those with internet access.

One major downside with Legends is the new “Murphy” levels which need the assistance of a timed button prompt to let the character of Murphy perform a necessary action in order to advance through the level. These levels came from the game first being a WiiU exclusive and work well with a touch screen but the PS3 and XBOX360 versions of these levels seem tedious and slow down the fast pace the games are known for.

One thing Legends and other Rayman games do get right is the jaw dropping presentation. For one thing the visuals are some of the best produced by artists with expansive, hand-painted backgrounds, environments. While it looks could it sometimes looks “too” good as the characters are as detailed as the backgrounds and leads to them blending in, instead of popping out like in Origins.

MINITORIAL-More detail is bad?: As said above the art has been incredibly improved since the last game but it has also turned into something that is a bit ugly. Having everything, characters, items, enemies and backgrounds have the same level of detail makes everything blend together. While its all still beautiful it actually affects the game itself and not in a good way. Being harder to differentiate characters from the fore ground makes a myriad of levels that much harder to traverse and while more detail is appreciated it should still have good conveyance.

Another source of majesty in this game is the music scored by Christophe Heral and Billy Martin featuring original tunes and some more notable melodies. One of the highlights of Legends is its newly introduced, “Orchestral Chaos” levels which have the player performing actions to the beat of familiar songs like a hard rock cover of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty,” or a flamenco style cover of “Eye of the Tiger.”

As good as the music is it couldn’t be help feeling repetitive, some of the more prominent songs from Origins were pulled into the game, and multiple levels will use the same track with little to no difference.

Legends is a fantastic title but it is nowhere the level of a complete experience as its predecessor is and feels more like an experimental expansion pack, but consider this experiment a success.

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