By James Best / July 14th, 2012
Over the years, Ubisoft’s Rayman fell into a sort of obscurity. The current generation was not kind to the limbless hero, leaving him with no chance to revel in the spotlight and even being ousted in popularity by a lot of manic rabbits. But Rayman was not totally forgotten by his parent company. Last year, he starred in a new a game, a reboot to the series. Rayman Origins, as the name would imply, is an origin story of the Rayman universe. Obviously taking a page from New Super Mario Bros. the new Rayman game is a 2D sidescroller boasting four player co-op.
Rayman Origins is set in the Glade of Dreams, an idyllic world created by the omnipotent Bubble Dreamer, who also created the denizens of the glade. The peace of the glade is shattered when the Bubble Dreamer suffers from a bad dream and the entire world begins to resemble the nightmare. It is up to Rayman to beat back the nightmare and restore the Glade of Dreams to its former state.
What sets Rayman Origins apart from other 2D platformers this generation is its wacky, chaotic art design. It is almost complete nonsense. Just look at the protagonist, Rayman, even if he is based on previous designs. He has no limbs to keep his extremities to his body! But this nonsensical approach is what makes the game so appealing. It’s just pure, crazy fun that doesn’t inhibit itself by complying to even the most basic established convention.
The insane art design is accompanied with vivacious music. The soundtracks has everything from didgeridoos, ukuleles, banjos, kazoos, disco, singing fish, spicy Mexican, and Hawaiian music. The eclectic choice of music never feels out of place, and always fits the mood of each area and occasion.
Like most other 2D sidescrollers, Rayman Origins breathes life into the simple concept of moving from left to right by offering varying gameplay. In one level, Rayman may be flying on the back of a mosquito in a classic, arcade-style shooter. Another is set in a gigantic, fiery kitchen with pots of boiling liquid and strings of chili to swing from. In yet another, Rayman will dive down to the abyss, hiding in the light of bioluminescent sea life to avoid getting snatched by the unseen horrors of the deep. Whether a level has the player climbing up falling debris or chasing after trapped fairies, Rayman Origins always offers a fun and engaging experience.
Of course, this experience is all the better when shared with a friend. Fortunately, Rayman Origins accommodates four player co-op. In co-op mode, other players will take on the roles of Globox and two Teensies. Having more players is always a good thing in Rayman Origins as it makes it all the easier to get through the tougher moments in the game. However, the camera is zoomed out a bit far, which normally is not a problem until Rayman and the gang activate their shrinking powers. When this happens, keeping track of your character can be a tad difficult, especially with more characters on screen.
Speaking of difficulty, Rayman Origins has it bursting at the seams. This game is blood-boiling, excruciatingly, make-you-want-to-throw-the-controller-up-against-a-wall challenging. The levels are fiendishly designed with numerous spike traps, enemies, and chasms. Add to that the fact that Rayman and company can usually take only one hit at a time, what is left is a game that will require the greatest of skill to beat. The game can be a bit cheap at times, but most deaths will be the result solely of player error. Fortunately, the game does allow players to skip the more challenging levels in single player mode, except for boss fights.
Rayman Origins, with its distinctive art style, jazzy soundtrack, and crazy level design, puts Rayman back in the limelight after a console generation of obscurity. The game is at its best when it is played with a friend or two. If you don’t have anyone else to play with, this game is still enjoyable. However, single players should avoid buying it unless they are looking for a challenge, for Rayman Origins is a game all to eager to oblige.