“Rayman: Legends” review

Rayman may not be the most well known mascot of a bygone gaming era where it seemed each company had one, but he’s certainly stuck around.

While sticking around apparently means sitting in the background while the Rabbids take over his franchise name, getting their own games and an an upcoming TV show, the little limbless fella still puts out a few games here and there to remind you that he’s still around.

“Rayman: Legends” is quite possibly one of the best purchases to be made for the Wii U to date, and it is one of the most polished and fun games on the console as well. This is not to put down any other big titles that have graced the system with their presence (“Assassin’s Creed,” “Injustice,” etc.), but merely to say this is one of the first games to really utilize all that the system has to offer.

With multiplayer for up to five people, this game allows one player to command a little imp/fairy character who alters the world around the others using the Wii U gamepad’s swipe and poke mechanics. The rest are jumping and sprinting away on the television.

When Ubisoft first showed footage of “Rayman: Legends” at E3 2012, it blew the crowd away with it’s stunning music, charming graphics and impressive co-op gameplay. To say that the demo was a hoax to garner hype is an insult to this game.

If you’re not playing “Rayman: Legends” with people, you’re not playing it right. Simple as that. This game is meant to be enjoyed with friends and family.

Co-op is smooth and streamlined, with very little confusion on the end of the player with the touchpad. It’s almost essential to have someone on the touchpad while someone plays on screen due to the invaluable help they provide as well as the extra points they can collect getting rid of baddies in the foreground and background of the game world.

Enemies change to match the style of different levels.

Platforming is well thought out and clever. Harkening back to the days when Mario was king and all were trying to emulate him, “Rayman: Legends” does what “New Super Mario Bros. U” doesn’t. “New Super Mario Bros. U” appears to be going through the motions of what you expect in a Mario game, while Rayman seems to just play with the idea of platforming and enjoy itself with quirky characters and whimsical settings.

In all honesty, this game resembles a 2D version of “Little Big Planet,” minus some frustrating physics, more than it does traditional platforming games from the early days of gaming.

The music sets the right tone and atmosphere for each level and really surprises with how dynamic it really is. The co-op sprinting levels where the gamepad is used to clear a path for the players on the screen are some of the best due to the Rayman’d versions of popular rock and roll songs that accompany these levels.

Control wise, the game is very tight and responsive. There are few times the player will be frustrated with how any of the characters move and react. The times they will be frustrated happen when the game asks you to run up circular inclines in loops. These are infinitely frustrating.

Collectibles abound and there are plenty of rewards to receive – Rayman is a completionist’s game. With so much to gather and find throughout the levels, progressing will take some time if dead-set on finding everything. The player will even be called back to old stages to complete time-trials if they so desire.

Daily challenges, weekly challenges and more allow for a competitive edge to the game, not to mention the multiplayer offline modes as well. The rewards for the challenges are more points for unlockables that allow the player to customize the look of Rayman and his friends.

Boss fights are challenging and fun. Each one has it’s own style and weakness so that there’s no worry about them being formulaic and boring. Not to mention their designs range from silly to actually intimidating.

The variety of color palettes and styles is very impressive.

The worst part of this game would have to be when the levels direct you to a certain method of traversing ground, say sprinting, and you’re then faced with a “Wait, where do I go?” moment. This frequently happens during time trials or tense moments in the game.

While this may be off-putting, it’s important to say that this isn’t bad design, just a bit more more frustrating design. I found that my deaths in game were not due to the level’s construction, more so my own mistakes, which is how it should be.

All in all, “Rayman: Legends” is a perfect purchase for those looking to have a great platforming experience. Fun for kids and adults, it’s humor and style will both impress and surprise many who may have written off the franchise in recent years.