Rayman Legends review
After a long absence, Rayman Origins brought Rayman out of the shadow of the Rabbids and back into his own spotlight where he belong. His platforming adventures across several consoles were extremely well-received to the point where there was a fair amount of disappointment when the sequel, Rayman Legends, was originally revealed to be a Wii U exclusive. Since then the game has been announced for other consoles too, but the demo remains as a Wii U exclusive. We bring you a preview of what players can expect from the game when it finally releases in September.
Teensies in Trouble
Rayman is joined by his Glute friend Globox, two Teensies and a brand new character called Barbara, a Viking girl with a rather savage looking double-headed axe. The Teensies have been captured and are being held prisoner across a mythical world that can only be accessed by jumping through paintings. Players can choose any of the five heroes to enter the paintings as they all have the same abilities.
The first painting, Teensies in Trouble, places players into a lush jungle environment where the king, queen and eight ordinary Teensies are waiting to be rescued. The default controller is the gamepad and the controls are simple, with several buttons serving the same purpose. Players can use either the left joystick or the d-pad for movement and can press A or B to jump. Objects are smashed by pressing either X or Y. Occasionally players will need to jump and smash at the same time, but it doesn’t get any more complicated than this at first. As the player travels through the level freeing Teensies and defeating enemies, yellow Lums are collected. Occasionally a stream of Lums will be preceded by a purple Lum – collecting these consecutively will turn them all to Purple Lums and they will be worth twice as much. Unfortunately, the purpose of collecting Lums was unclear in the demo, but it is thought that they will be used to unlock bonuses in the main game.
The Gamepad’s Real Purpose
After travelling a short way through the jungle, your chosen hero comes across one of his friends, usually Globox, who has been trapped by a wayward thorny flower. At this point, Rayman’s greenbottle friend Murfy must be called in to help. No longer just a guide, players must control Murfy to clear the path for Globox, who is now controlled by the game itself. As Globox enters a dungeon full of fiery pits, players must use the gamepad’s touch screen to slice through ropes, drag platforms into place and pull enemies out of hiding to help him progress. The pad must then be rotated so that Murfy can turn platforms and wheels courtesy of the pad’s gyroscope technology. Quick reflexes are vital here as Globox will keep moving if there is somewhere that he can go.
The Teensies can be hidden in obscure places and players will have to search to find hidden hollows or secret passages through which they will find the victims. The king and queen are hidden in separate rooms, where players have to beat a challenging situation before the Teensy can be freed. This can be something as simple as collecting Lums as they fly past to something more complicated like a rotating platform full of spikes. Once the royal Teensy is freed, they will reward their hero with a heart. This protects the hero against one strike from an enemy or trap. One strike from any danger is fatal for the heroes, so the extra protection can make all the difference.
Once the first level is complete, players have access to two more paintings. The second painting, Toad Story, places players into a steamy swamp full of venus fly-traps and toads on stilts. In this level, players must use the steamy air currents to glide from platform to platform. Players must jump and then hold A (or B) to glide. The level serves as a slightly more complicated challenge for those looking for a platforming fix, with another king, queen and eight ordinary Teensies needing to be rescued.
Musical Ram Jam
The third painting leads to a completely different type of level. Castle Rock is one of the game’s musical maps. The heroes must run along medieval battlements in time with Black Betty’s “Ram Jam”, all while staying in front of the encroaching wall of flame and avoiding falling towers, enemy barricades, deep pits and a non-friendly dragon. Players can not slow down from a dash, which is enabled by holding L, R, ZL or ZR while the character is moving right. Theoretically, players must jump on the drum beat, smash on the bass line and swing from zip-lines during a guitar sustain. These levels have the potential to be a huge amount of fun but, unfortunately, the platforming is not quite matched up with the music. A fair number of the player’s actions must be performed before the beat. When jumping over a large enemy, players are often in the apex of the jump when the beat hits and a cannonball destroys the enemy. This is the only fault that I found in an otherwise flawless demo.
A Collection of Heroes
The demo can also be played in co-op with up to four other players using Wii-motes or the Pro controller to control more heroes. There is also the choice to use a Wiimote with an attached nunchuk, but I found this method clumsy and wouldn’t recommend it. The player with the gamepad can now choose to play as a hero or to play as Murfy and help the other players along. However, when the players reach the thorny flower in Teensies in Trouble, the player with the gamepad must assume the role of Murfy to help the other heroes progress. As the hero is no longer controlled by the game, players can take their time to explore the level a bit more fully and may discover hidden caches of Lums that are not possible to reach in single-player.
When Murfy’s help is not required by the game, he can remove vegetation that hides hidden passages, turn yellow Lums to purple Lums and activate glowing objects for other players to destroy. Any Lums that change colour through Murfy’s help are then shared between both players. The co-op is a drop-in, drop-out experience. Heroes who get left behind will inflate and initially follow the crew from screen to screen before vanishing whereas Murfy will simply disappear. When the player wishes to rejoin the game, a press of any button will bring the inflated hero back onto the screen where another hero must slap him to deflate the hero and allow him to join the action. Murfy will just reappear as if he had never been missing.
The replayability factor will come with players trying to perfect the levels by collecting as many Lums as possible and freeing all of the Teensies. I found myself replaying the levels several times to find the Teensies that I had missed. The musical map level never got old. The drop-in, drop-out co-op makes this a great party game. If the rest of the game is this enjoyable then I can see myself going to purchase this on the first day of release.