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Rayman Origins - Wii Review

Game Info
Rayman Origins

Wii | Ubisoft | 1-4 Players (co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (sideways)
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27th February 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

When Ubisoft first announced Rayman Origins, I nearly had a heart attack. Not because of the announcement itself, but the overall look was so incredibly charming and interest-arousing. To say I was expecting great things out of this revival would be an understatement. Once in a blue moon, there are games that have such a hold on me that it becomes therapeutic for all the crappy games I've played, and I was really hoping Rayman Origins would be one of those games. We've been spoiled with a number of solid platformers in the past couple months, but this game definitely takes the cake. The game just about forces Super Mario Galaxy into abdicating its position as one of the best platformers in the past decade. This is a truly rockin' piece of entertainment that's so creative, stirring and exemplary that I'm left amazed that Ubisoft still had in them to make something of this magnitude.

    As per other classic titles, Rayman Origins takes place in The Glade of Dreams where players will jump to and from the different worlds. You can visit The Snoring Tree to change into a different character or take on a new costume you've unlocked. Aside from the titular hero, you can also play as Rayman's clumsy friend, Globox, or the slightly annoying, dwarf-like Teensies. Whether you choose to take on this adventure mostly on your own or with friends, players will be on the hunt for special fairies that need to be rescued at the end of each world. Doing so will grant you new abilities like hovering or running on walls. Bringing that down to a more progressive framework, your goal within each level is to rescue the Electoon captives. These small, fun-loving characters are found inside cages at the end of each level that are guarded by clusters of enemies. Even before reaching the very end, however, you may come across a secret entrance somewhat obscured by plant life where you'll find another set of Electoons calling for your aid.

Controls in the game are quite simple. You use the D-Pad to move, use B to sprint, press 2 to jump, press it again to hover and use the 1 Button to attack. When playing as Rayman, this will consist of a punch, but that will be replaced by a slap when using Globox, and so on. You can also hold the 1 Button to wind up your attack for a more powerful hit, or press both 1 and Down while airborne to slam down to the ground. There's nothing complicated about the moves you can do, and it's all kept simple enough that the controls are almost always up to the task (save for the odd occasion when hovers don't activate instantly).

    With the normal, unprotected enemies, jumping on top of them or attacking them directly will cause them to inflate. If you hit them again, they will disappear and often leave you with a Lum for your troubles. With some enemies, you need to hit them at the right time to avoid hurting yourself in the process, while others are completely impervious to your attacks. To protect yourself from the more aggressive folk, you can look out for heart containers often found inside potion bottles as a temporary shield. The game allows you to suffer multiple hits in a little less than a one-second time frame, reasonably allowing for some slip-ups on your end whilst guarding against any sort of cheap deaths from occurring -- a flaw that arises in some other platformers. That's something I definitely appreciated.

Along the way, players will collect the bright signature Lums for points, while using Blue Lums to help you swing over to another platform or help serve as a level place to stand on. Some of the normal Lums are found inside bubbles that only appear when you touch a part of the environment like a knit bag. If you don't act quickly, they will continue floating upwards until they are completely out of reach. In nearly all levels, you'll also find at least one Skull Coin that can add to your Lum count by 25 Points. Acquiring this special item is conditional upon you not getting hit by an attack or an obstacle for a few seconds, and with this in mind, the game will often place these Coins in narrow spots with nearby spike traps, enemies and more. One other common element very much worth mentioning is the golden Lum King. Touching one of these will trigger a short eight-second event where all Lums will take on a red colour and be worth even more points. The music that plays during this segment sounds highly reminiscent of a jovial quartet, which is ultimately what makes these moments feel quite special when they do happen.

    At the outset, Rayman Origins takes inspirations from classic games in the franchise to whet the appetite of players. Those same green-coloured tourist-looking enemies with the safari hats are back again, as are the familiar plum platforms and the end-of-level happy dances. The first couple levels will feel like a nostalgia trip, but as you get deeper into the experience, the nods to previous titles become less and less evident, and the game really starts takes shape and acquire its own sense of identity. Beginning in the Jibberish Jungle world, players will observe that the initial bunch of levels don't feel stereotypical as though they were blending in with standards previously in place. As you go along, you'll observe this to be true in pretty much every single world featured in this game. For example, Gourmand Land in its entirety had me meditating on how unique it was. I've witnessed many ice levels, but the overall aesthetic they employed here makes you feel like you're weaving through an exclusive club, which brings you warmth in spite of the chilling prospect of visiting an arctic land. You have enemy dragons acting as waiters with large platters in hand, cocktail umbrellas you can use to swing across a gap, half-cut watermelon seesaws, and a whole lot more. It's brilliant!

Continuing on the same subject, players are treated to some unforgettable underwater levels in the Sea of Serendipity world, while there are also some additional moments of impressive game design in the ambitious Mystical Pique world, full of stunning mountainous regions and even a Donkey Kong reference for good measure during an arduous ascent. Across the board, there are a number of levels where it feels super natural to bounce along paths on a whim and use obstacles to reach heights, even though you've never been there before. At times, you'll encounter perspective changes where, much like in games like Sonic Generations or Super Paper Mario, after being shot off into the distance, you're suddenly running on hills in the background. The game likes to use layers of depth in the visual hierarchy to its advantage and create surprises in the level design that add a substantial amount of wow factor. Levels such as these had a lasting impression on me, brooding clever and creative shape at every passage.

    There are moments in the game where gameplay shifts from impressive to downright glorious. The first of these can be found in the super fun Moskito levels. Marking the return of yet another character from the Rayman universe, participating players will jump onto their own buzzing insect and shoot down enemies in a constantly moving level. At the end of some worlds, instead of just gaining access to a new location, you'll actually play a rather snazzy level where the path to the next world is made for you by the hair of Giant Electoons. Not only are these levels set in an extremely warm atmosphere, but it's even more pleasing for Rayman fans to see Murfy make a cameo appearance here.

Throughout the game's many levels, there are so many subtle touches to the developer's adoration for rhythm and music. Even with something simple as selecting your game slot, you're able to play along with the main tune by scrolling up and down the list. These touches become most noticeable, however, in the Desert of Didgeridoos world. Here you'll see platforms consisting of piano keys, music notes and staffs, flute-shaped enemies with holes, and a whole slew of other obstacles centered around instruments. Many of this world's stages were very memorable bouts, with the Wind or Lose level being an especially fun one.

    On a broader scale, music is another area where Rayman Origins goes above and beyond. The fact that one of the levels is titled "Best Original Score" almost hints at the fact that Ubisoft knew full well that their efforts in the music department would not go unnoticed. Even if they had to tease at it in an almost overconfident manner, the proof is in the pudding: the game's soundtrack is truly superb! The sound effects heard amongst characters and even in the background music works really well in the game's favor, as does the highly varied sound. It's easily one of the best soundtracks I've heard this generation and it tops even some of Nintendo's own musical efforts.

Much of the music in this game actually reminded me of Crash Twinsanity because of how very original it is. The whole soundtrack feels like it's pushing boundaries, not only with Rayman's familiar sounds, but also with the jump-up-and-dance, cheerful music platformers are typically known for. The composers for the music explored all sorts of genres and instruments, and the mash-ups that do exist sound extremely grabbing. I'm always drawn to jazz being incorporated into games, and when Rayman Origins does make use of jazzy sounds, it's not overly soft or merely soothing. It sounds like a (cocktail) party is brewing, with the mesmerizing sounds of a snake charmer. There are times, though, where the game takes a different turn with its music and actually gets into the territory of "creepy". The intriguing sound of the dark underwater levels is just one of the areas where you'll feel chills over how impactful the music is. Just in general, Rayman Origins has a brilliant art style going for it that really sets it apart from other platforms. Featuring really rich environmental detailing, the game has an immense amount of personality to it. Thus, it can be said that the game really brands itself as having its own distinctive style.

    Similar to how Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc was most identified by its addictive dance-in-your-seat disco themes, Rayman Origins will be known as the game that blended a bunch of different musical stylings to create something clean, whimsical and totally creative. These are really euphonic tunes that engage you deeper into the experience, and along with the impressive visual substance, the amazing soundtrack truly does a wonderful job of giving the game a whole lot of depth and a notable immersive feel that will suck players right in. No matter how you look at it, both the visuals and the soundtrack combined make Rayman Origins such a beautiful game. 

As if you didn't have enough reasons to believe this, Rayman Origins provides great bang for your buck. There is a ton of content on offer here aside from clearing the standard assortment of levels. First and foremost are the crazy yet often hilarious boss battles, which may have you fighting a large "angry bird" or the intimidating Golem monster. After getting through all the worlds, you'll open up one final world which initially is inaccessible due to a lack of resources. This forces you to go back to previously completed worlds, not to experience the exact same platforming puzzles, but for a sub-division of new levels.

    There's also great value to be found in aiming for high-scores in the number of Lums you collect, and in participating in exciting time attacks. There are also 10 Skull Teeth to collect in special levels where you must chase a treasure box that's constantly running away. Despite their difficulty, these treasure-chasing levels are very, very fun to play, especially because of the large number of surprises that often take place. The structure is very much akin to those rabbit-chasing missions in past Mario titles except more fleshed out and, quite frankly, infinitely superior. In summary, not only does Rayman Origins contain more than enough content to make it worth your money, but it's a game you'll want to come back and play for months to come and still find great enjoyment out of it.

Amazingly, the game really is for all ages and this is something that all gaming types can really get into and dig what's on offer (provided they actually give it a chance). Although I've made mention of so many positive attributes as it is, Rayman Origins' greatest strength is its teamwork-centric, co-operative gameplay that's guaranteed to be every bit as fun as your favourite fixes. You'll be laughing, pointing fingers at each other, and watching as surprises unfold on-screen with the best member of the team often being the one who picks people up when they're trapped in bubble form. The E10+ rating is certainly warranted, though, with monstrous creatures and evil claws trying to grab you while submerged underwater. It's actually kind of scary, yet at the same time, it's amazing how the game can jump from "flowers and daisies" to a "you're not welcome here" type of environment.

    Speaking of evil, although the game is a calming experience early on, the game spares no mercy in subjecting players to some difficult gameplay that requires good reflexes, patience, and precision. For this reason, the game can be seen as a tough venture in spite of its welcoming exterior, but it is oh so rewarding. Despite the difficulty, the game is truly a blast even for kids to play, and with such a strong co-op experience to be had here, Rayman Origins leaves no doubt that it will leave you feeling satisfied over deciding to purchase the game.

In truth, the amount of enjoyment that can be derived from this truly artistic and original game rivals that of other platforming successes like Super Mario Galaxy. With an explosive amount of personality, though there are influences that likely contributed to the game design, Rayman Origins is such a strong contender in the family of platformers that it feels like it influences more than it is influenced. Even if you come into the game in a bad mood, it's hard to stay down when the game is just so wonderfully cheerful. Even the darker stages have something tangibly creative about them that you can't help but smile and be affected by all that's going on around you. The game really comes alive just naturally because everything just falls into place so succinctly, yet it still manages to impress time and time again.

    Rayman Origins is a beautifully-designed game that sucks you in with both subtle and genre-defining finishes. More than that, this is the kind of title that almost perfectly embodies what I've always loved about gaming since my childhood. It's creative, hilarious, super fun to play, features masterful level design, and is charged with so much love that you can't help but be amazed by everything Ubisoft did to make this game have such a fantastic environment. Ubisoft didn't just bring back a beloved icon. They put him back at the top of his class! Seeing Rayman at his finest since Hoodlum Havoc was totally worth the wait, and after playing this game, I feel like my respect for Ubisoft has been renewed. An unforgettable, timeless adventure that everyone absolutely must play at some point in their life.

30/30 - Outstanding

Gameplay 10/10 - Level design is masterfully creative, memorable bosses and Moskito segments, a truly unforgettable adventure, sets a fantastic example
Presentation 10/10 - Beautiful visuals and design, solid art direction has resulted in such a wonderful atmosphere, amazingly varied soundtrack
Enjoyment 5/5 - All kinds of fun to be had on your own, incredibly enjoyable when playing with friends, difficult yet extremely rewarding
Extra Content 5/5 - Large number of stages, retrieve the Skull Teeth by playing really fun chase missions, plenty reason to replay levels, lots of content

Equivalent to a score of 100% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Rayman Origins
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