Ever since I played Rayman Legends at E3 last year, I’ve been anxiously awaiting a chance to check out the full experience.
However, the delay for the Wii U version did worry me. Was the delay solely for just extra sales, or was the version just not up to par compared to what Ubisoft wanted?
The title, though, offers one of the best platforming experiences out there with plenty of variety, even putting the mustachioed plumber to shame on his own system.
Rayman Legends tries to put a story in to keep interest, but it’s never needed. A group of five Dark Teensies have trapped other Teensies, and its Rayman and his friends’ job to rescue them. Pretty standard, but you’ll never care about it as you go from level to level.
As far as normal level gameplay goes, the platforming is basically the same as Rayman Origins. Players will run and jump their way through levels, hitting enemies out of the way and collecting plenty of Lums, which are used to unlock new character skins along the way. There are plenty of secret doors to find in each level, and a mistimed jump can lead to the missing of Teensies to free or a quick death. Thankfully, checkpoints are pretty gracious, and never put you too far back on trickier sections.
That doesn’t stop some traps or sections from feeling a tad bit cheap, though. Some traps aren’t even noticeable until you’ve fallen victim to them once, which can lead to forced restarts to do a jump over them. However, these minor inconveniences can’t hinder what else the game has to offer.
The biggest addition and enjoyment to the game for me has to be the musical stages at the end of each world. Most levels are interesting reworkings of a popular song, such as “Black Betty” or “Eye of the Tiger,” that are set inside a level where jumps and punches are timed to the beat of the song. It is so easy to get a rhythm going here and become enveloped in the music. The levels are almost cathartic, letting you sit back and enjoy the environment the world really had to offer while you keep moving to the pulse.
The addition of music levels aren’t the only change for Legends, though. There are plenty more varieties to the platforming formula that makes progressing to new worlds enjoyable. In one world, you’ll have to avoid being detected by searchlights, while some levels will give you a magic fist to shoot projectiles at enemies to progress forward.
One change I had quite a bit of fun with was using Murfy the Fairy. On the 360 and PS3, Murfy is simply controlled with a button, relegating him to nothing more than a cheap gimmick at times or even a bit of a nuisance. However, on both the Wii U and Vita, where a touch screen is available, he becomes a fun character to control, swiping at objects to move them and tickling enemies to help overcome them.
Personally, while some levels force Murfy on you, I found him best used in multiplayer. You can have up to four people and Murfy running at once. Even when it was just me and my wife, one of us controlled Murfy and the other ran around to give us a better advantage in getting through levels and to get even more Lums.
Also, the mosquito levels from the first game are gone, instead replaced by boss stages in each world. The change seems like a push to me. I didn’t enjoy or hate the mosquito levels, and the boss battles follow a pattern through each of their stages.
Overall, the game features five worlds with a variety of levels in each. As you progress through, you’ll also unlock Invasion variants of levels, where enemies from one world are placed into the world of another. All Invasion levels are time trials, requiring quick reflexes to finish in time and save the three Teensies.
The worlds also feature two princesses to rescue that you can play as also. My wife loved these characters, while I normally just selected whoever was the newest unlockable character at the time.
The base five worlds won’t take too much time to complete, maybe a little over an hour for each world. However, Ubisoft has added plenty more gameplay to go through. Each level has a gold, silver and bronze for both Teenies rescued and Lums collected. Also situated in the Lums goal for each level is a Lucky Ticket to collect.
The tickets, when scratched off, can give either Lums, Teensies, a Creature or a redone Rayman Origins level to play. Creatures give Lums daily in their own area of the game, helping you get closer to unlocking pricier characters to play as.
Legends also features a Challenge mode that give new stages daily and weekly to take on to see how well you compare to others on the leaderboard. Heck, there’s even a 2D soccer mode to compete against your friends with.
I also want to focus some on the comparison of the Wii U and Vita versions, the closest the console and portable version can be compared. Both feature the touchscreen controls, although the Vita felt a bit more responsive to me over the Wii U version.
However, the Wii U version has the edge to me because of a few additional features. First, as you’ve probably read, the Invasion levels aren’t in the Vita version. However, they are being included as free DLC later down the line.
Also, the Wii U version, as well as the PS3 and 360 versions, offer local multiplayer to enjoy with friends on the same screen. The Vita version only offers two player co-op via ad-hoc, meaning you’ll need a friend with a Vita and copy of the game to play together locally. While the game is enjoyable by yourself, running around with friends is definitely a great experience.
Other than that, the versions both play identical. So, it’s up to you if you want a solid experience on the couch or to take on the go.
Graphically, each world has a unique feel to it, with all levels looking great. Even though it’s 2D, the art style can easily rival any of the best 3D graphics currently out there. I loved the art and seeing each level play out was a blast.
As you can probably guess from my praise of the music levels, the music in the game is also amazing. Even outside of those levels, music in each of the worlds is energetic and will always push you forward in levels. From top to bottom, everyone on the team did a great job with the polish the game has.
- Platforming is great.
- Music levels are a blast to play.
- Both the graphics and music are amazing in the game.
- Some traps seem a bit cheap.
- Over-touchy controls can sometimes lead to quick deaths.
- Need more music levels!
Overall, Rayman Legends is THE platformer to play on the Wii U and Vita, and one of the best right now to check out on any system. Besides a few minor inconveniences, the polish put into the game really shows through on the levels. Definitely check this out to see what platforming at its finest looks like.
Final Score: 5 out of 5