Rayman has been a strong IP for Ubisoft for a long time now, and as with all nearly all Ubisoft IPs is completely insane in its own way. And this latest instalment is a fun, but difficult addition.
Well there's not much story to Rayman Origins, there's not much story to any platformer game of this type really since that's not what they're about. Rayman's snoring annoys some old woman who decides that she's had enough of the noise. In a rather over the top move, she releases an army of evil Toons on Rayman and his friends. They must overcome this army and save the Glade of Dreams.
It's a simple story so the main focus is on the platforming. Which is fun, but hard. Like seriously hard. You can only get hit once and your dead. Fall off and you're dead. As you go through the game it becomes harder and harder and it wasn't so easy to being with. This game does not hold your hand or treat you nicely. I've found it one of the hardest games I've played in this generation, some of it making me want to run away, and not even attempt it, but this game has such a great cartoon charm that makes it so much fun.
The core mechanics are your basic platforming. Each level involves a lot of jumping and climbing, all of which must be precise. As you progress through the game you gain power ups that help you through the later levels. These powers range from wall running, to swimming, and even upgrading your attacks. There is some co-op play in the game, but it's offline only and as with all of these kind of games, co-op play makes it a little chaotic and even more difficult to complete, which should be the opposite goal of co-op play. There are also side scrolling shooter levels that involves a flying mosquito, which sucks up bad guys, fires them back out. There are collectables to grab through all the levels, giving some replayability... if you can face play through the game again without smashing your controller.
The backing singing repeats throughout the levels, since there aren't that many songs, and it can get pretty annoying. It's an okay soundtrack, but it would have definitely been better with just a couple more songs added to it.
This game looks fantastic, even though the Wii version doesn't look as good as the other console versions. The cartoony style is great, giving it a pretty unique look amongst games - a lot of which strive for realism now, so it's great to have something different. The levels are well designed and flow naturally.
This is a fun, challenging game
It's nice to see that whilst game developers are busy working on new formats, styles and characters for games the old favourites aren't being forgotten. The latest character to be brought back is Rayman, whose last outing was in 2005 on the Gameboy advance. I'd played the original Rayman game on the Playstation back in the mid-nineties following its release on the original console and that prompted me to get the new version from lovefilm to see if the latest update made the game as good as I remembered the original to be.
The original Rayman concept was that of a 2 dimensional based platform game similar to Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog staring a character called Rayman. The character is a body with hands, feet and a head floating the appropriate distance from the body, in essence he doesn't have any limbs. By using his hair and his extendable reach you must guide Rayman through the 2D platform workd to reach his goal.
In Rayman's world of Glade of Dreams things have been good for a long time; however the Darktoons have shown up, hell bent on taking over the Glade of Dreams. The Fairy Council enlists Rayman, Globox and two crafty wizards known as the Teensies to team up and take on the evil forces of the Darktoons. They must succeed and save the Glade Of Dreams otherwise it will disappear and be quickly forgotten about like the worst nightmare imaginable. So it's over to us, the players, to help Rayman and his team to stop the Darktoons.
One of the first things that impressed me about Rayman Origins was its sheer size. The game comprises of 12 different worlds, which in turn are made up of some 60 levels giving the game a vast selection of levels. The gameplay and the levels do have quite a quick pace to them as you play but even if you use the most direct routes there is at least a hundred hours of gameplay open to you with this title. The levels are well varied giving the game quite a good sense of variance as you progress from one level to the next.
By sticking to the classic Rayman 2D look I felt that the developers Ubisoft have stuck to what made Rayman such a good game in the first place. There would have been a temptation to switch to a 3D format for this game but thankfully they have decided against this. Instead they have used the graphic capabilities available to them to create a very sharp looking 2D platformer that works really well.
I have to admit that the game son the Wii are getting better graphically year on year as developers start to try out the systems capabilities. I found that the colours all looked very sharp and the look of the game was very impressive. The backdrops to each level blend in really well and the game is really a triumph for Ubisoft's new in house graphic engine, which has received its first run out on this latest Rayman release.
As you travel through the levels defeating the baddies along the way and rescuing the trapped inhabitants of the Glade of Dreams the game does get slightly harder with each level. This is counteracted by your character getting new skills and abilities to help you progress. It isn't the world's hardest platform game but the difficulty takes into account that the game is aimed more at Children than the likes of me and I think the level the developers have aimed it at works really well.
Even the multiplayer side of the game works really well. You can play with up to 4 players at any time and each of you takes on the role of one of the 4 members of Rayman's team. The graphics still flow smoothly as you play. With this being the Wii you can play this game using as little or as much movement as you choose. I thought the control system was quite easy to get to grips with and really enhanced the feeling of the game.
If I was to pick the major flaw with the game it would be the sounds that accompany each level. They aren't really suited and I found that the combination of the music and noises really got on my nerves as I was playing. I thought that on the whole the soundtrack and the noises from the characters didn't really work for me, but then I found this to be quite similar to my experiences with the earlier Rayman games.
I wasn't too sure when I first started to play Rayman Origins. There was something a little off putting about the first couple of levels but once you get into the game it is really enjoyable. The game has a good number of levels to explore and this gives it a decent lifespan. The levels are quite fast paced with a good mixture of action that really aids to make for enjoyable gameplay. Whilst I felt the soundtrack to the game doesn't really work, everything else about Rayman Origins does work really well.
It isn't overly complicated and it is enjoyable for all ages. As a fan of Rayman I really enjoyed it and was particularly glad that Ubisoft had remained true to the 2D look of the Rayman games. I've really felt with the last few Wii games I've played that the quality of the output on the system is increasing all the time and games like this will really help to keep the Wii competing with the Xbox and PS3. This game is available on both of those systems but I felt that the Wii is the better, more suited platform for the game. It's a game I'd happily recommend to fans of the Mario games, Sonic and the classics such as Earthworm Jim. A 4 star game for me.
Other Platforms: PS3 & Xbox 360
Age -3 plus
I do remember playing this franchise in other devices (Xbox) a while back. This is the first time I tried playing this on the Wii. I am not a particular fan of the Wii, I must confess, though I occasionally do play them.
It is nice that I tried out a Wii game and picked up Rayman Origins for my occasional Wii experience. The only difference you definitely feel, however, is that the Wii graphics would appear to be grainier. The reason is that the Wii version runs on an anamorphic 640x480 widescreen while the Xbox version runs on a true 1920x1080 widescreen. However, it does not show up unless you have a HDTV which incidentally I do not possess. Another thing missing is the achievements. Nonetheless, Wii version has that enormous advantage that the Xbox version does not have and hence is a sure winner - it is cheaper at than its Xbox counterpart, tremendous advantage when money is scarce. (not if you wait for some months, you can get it at simialr price, currently under £15)
In this present time, when most of the games are becoming more complex with a plethora of plots and sub-plots, non-linear storylines, multifarious characters, intricate graphics, complicated physics and dense artificial intelligence, and layered music and sound effects, it was indeed refreshing to see Ubisoft use simple, old-school ideas of a two-dimensional platformer game for Rayman Origins.
The idea is indeed simple. Firstly, the game has a very skeletal story. It is refreshingly bold to discard the present obsession of having a convoluted narrative to extend the game. The good thing about an easy and minimal storyline is its appeal across all ages - it can easily be enjoyable to a small child in need of simple, uncomplicated fun while the grown-ups and older people enjoy the uncluttered fun without whacking their brains. The only people who would not fancy Rayman Origin are hard-core adrenaline pushing gamers.
Secondly, the game has some very funny and idiosyncratic characters. Though they are eccentric they still retain their naivety.
Thirdly, all these characters have a great bravura to them. Whether the character is the main hero or his assistants or even the numerous enemies out to spoil their mission, all of them have that uncomplicated flair that makes the game all the more interesting and hilarious too.
Fourthly, all these characters reside, fight and progress in an insanely zany world. But instead of making this weird world frightening or gory, Ubisoft has made them to be artistic paradises, beautiful yet bizarre.
What we ultimately have taking all these four elements into account is Rayman Origin, a riotous, side-splitting, amusing entertainment full of action and adventure.
The story is straight-forward. It is a fight between the good and the evil. The evil Darktoons are hell-bent to take over the Glade of Dreams (a make belief world inside the game created by Bubble Dreamer) having been sent to do that by the old granny from the Land of the Livid Dead. The Fairy Council, the Lord Protector (ess) of this Glade of Dreams is imprisoned sending Bubble Dreamer the creator of the Glade into a nightmarish dream sequence that allow Mr Dark, the arch rival of Rayman to escape the Land of the Livid Dead leading Rayman and his friends to get captured. However, they manage to escape.
In order to save their world, a Caster Teeny known as the Magician recruits Rayman (the larger than life weirdo hero). Rayman then calls upon his side-kick Globox to assist him in his mission. They rope in the Teenies, two wily wizards by the equally crafty names of Grand Minimus and Goth Caster and there you have the Mission Impossible Team (pun intended) that sets out to take on the wicked Darktoons and save the Glade of Dreams from the impending doom.
This is a typical, old school 2D platformer with elements that include action, adventure and comic interventions.
There are 12 unique worlds divided into 60 levels and 3 phases.
In the first phase, the player explores 5 worlds - Jibberish Jungle, the Desert of Dijiridoos, the Gourmand Land, the Sea of Serendipity, and Mystical Pique in a sequential order. Each of them are based on a theme - a forest, musical instruments, food and cooking items, sea and mountain respectively. Each of them also has a set of enemies, Darktoons and other quirky characters to obstruct you from accomplishing your tasks. And finally each one of them has a Boss - giant red carnivorous plant, a yellow bird, a gigantic dragon, a huge pinkish prawn and a mountainous golem respectively.
At each of these worlds the player must free some a captured character to acquire new abilities to advance in the game - attacking, gliding, reducing size, diving underwater, and climbing walls respectively. These new powers aid the players in confronting and overcoming the enemies to ultimately accomplish the objective of setting free the Electoons from the cages where they have been imprisoned by the Darktoons.
Along the way Rayman and his team gets ballooned when hit by the enemy and are slapped back from that state by the unaffected team member. If all of them are affected then they return to checkpoint. Of course they can collect hearts to protect themselves. During the course they collect gold Lums (sort of game currency), Lum Kings (worth double the Lums) and Skulls (worth 25 Lums).
Once you finish this phase you can move on to the next phase which has 5 more similar worlds. The only difference this time is that there is no fixed sequence to progress these worlds and you can choose the order yourself.
On completing this phase you can now enter the Moody Clouds where you need to defeat the 4 kings. Here the final battle is with an airship.
By this time you would have collected the entire needed ruby tooth for the grand finale which is the Land of the Livid dead. I would not go into any further detail to keep the excitement.
All through the game controls offered to you are excellent. The level design is brilliant with the momentum sustained by rhythmic gameplay intertwined with funny moments. There are a few cockups during the quest of a tricky treasure with the irritating backdrop pop-up showing up as soon as you start the treasure hunt.
ART and GRAPHICS
This game is the first to be made with Ubisoft's in-house graphic engine. The artistic beauty is remarkable. The dense vegetation of the Jibberish Jungle to the surreal environments of gourmandise to the mythical world of musical delight to the rattling snowfalls of the Mystical Pique the artwork is simply outstanding. The Land of the Livid Dead is a gold hued graveyard world filled with scattered bones, skulls and spider webs filled with zombies and the like.
The game has around 100 characters, all unique, some pretty and others grotesque but nevertheless pleasing.
The graphics complement the artwork seamlessly making the worlds a mystical paradise and the characters absolutely vintage. There are pink mosquitoes that buzz angrily, tiny fishes that jump alarmingly, scary monster that poke their tentacles and even a hotdog.
This is fast paced game where your powers increase from a rudimentary jump and run to swimming, gliding, diving and much more as you progress. You have to be careful with your enemies and take them on early. You can return to previous levels to discover new treasures and paths. The levels sustain the difficulty all through but gives you enough of chances and checkpoints to also maintain a hold on your quests. The checkpoints make you not have to repeat entire levels which avoid unrequired repetitions. The levels increase their difficulties gradually as you progress till you encounter sudden death traps, monstrous storms and spooky monsters, all ingredients that never allow you to feel bored or lethargic. Then there are adequate number of prizes and trophies to keep you engaged and constantly interested. The only place you seem to be at the mercy of the machine is those bizarre fights with the Bosses. These boss are a totally unpredictable lot and can spring gruesome surprises. Except this inconsistency, there is nothing artificial to the game. It pushes you to a challenge and then rewards your accomplishment, an excellent balance. This side-scroll adventure would appeal to all, irrespective of age and gender.
Those who have played the earlier Raymans can recognise some of the characters like Mr Dark and the Fairy. There is some reference to the earlier games from the franchise also like Bubble Dreamers but this game will appeal equally to those familiar with Rayman and those new to it. I had vague memories of it but I found Rayman Origins to be absolutely new without any overhang from the earlier games.
There are lots of things to discover, acquire, uncover, revisit, gain, earn and accomplish. There are 66 levels altogether scattered over 3 phases and 100 characters and creatures to give you company.
It is enough to last you longer than any of the recent games in this genre without getting bored or frustrated. The longevity is desirable.
I confess that I have only played the multiplayer version - that's what Wii does to you. I was always Rayman and any of my three took turn to be Globox and the Tensees. It has this unique feature of Jump-In/Jump-Out where my friends could enter play on same screen and leave without disturbing my (Rayman) progress.
Sadly, it does not have an online multiplayer option.
The music matches the pace and feel of the graphics and presentation. The music and sound have not been synthesised but actually recorded which can be felt intensely within the game. The sound effects emanating from the creatures and characters seem to blend effortlessly with the music creating perfect harmony. However, some of the minor characters babble feels fairly repetitive.
It has been decades since the Rayman originated. Rayman Origins tries to recreate those classic 2D platformers but excels at creating something novel. The essence of the game is that though it derives its strength from the past yet it remains unshackled with its root. The result is refreshing and highly addictive.
Also reviewed for Ciao UK under same name and title.
Rayman has been something of a constant figure on the gaming scene for the past number of years with a variety of games, tie-ins, mini game collections and cartoons. Still going strong in 2012, Rayman Origins is the latest title in the multi format adventures of the little critter and this is a review of the Wii version which I played for a quite a while over my Xmas break from work.
As with most new Wii games now this is not very expensive and is already under £20 in most stores and I picked it up even cheaper second hand for only £7 and it has been well worth that as I have found it to be a fun, interactive title with plenty of fresh elements that can be enjoyed by all the family! No matter if you are a serious hardcore gamer or a casual, xmas only, type of joystick wielder then there will be something in Rayman Origins for you.
The best news for all is that here Rayman has gone back to it's routes as 2D side scrolling platform...hallelujah. Its about time! Its been so long since a quality Side scrolling game has been released that I almost forgot all about them. Platform games have produced some of the best and most enjoyable games ever, and its go see a series such as Rayman return to its roots.
One of the selling point of this game is the 4 player co-op. It means with four joypads/wii motes you can four friends can play along any time you want and if your friend gets bored he can jump out, if a new friend comes in late she can jump in. It really is that simple and the gameplay elements within the game make it that much more fun. This is a cracking title for getting together with friends and just having a laugh.
Alone the game is just as fun as the varied levels, fast paced gameplay and accurate controls make it gripping and for a Rayman game the story is not so bad as you collect parts of Raymans past to work out his origin! There are about 60 levels and hundreds of hours worth of fun here with a high replay value...I certainly will not be trading this is for some time.
The levels end in boss fights which are new and unique and the whole game is so fun, looks great with some great artwork and is a breeze to play.
If you hark for the days when 2D platformers ruled the world then this may very well be the game you have been waiting for!
Also on CIAO