on January 27, 2014
This game has had a lot of hype behind it; it has been refered to as one of the best platformers ever made by so many critics and reviewers, and it even won a BAFTA (Or BAGA) for it's art direction. As you can tell by the date of my writing this, someone has obviously built a hype-launching-catapult, because all of it has gone straight over my head. I mean, it's 3 years after the games release! And not only am I just now playing it, but I'm just now talking about it! Well, there's certainly not going to be a lot to say that hasn't already been said, I'm mainly just writing this to better hone my writing skills, since I need some kind of hobby to occupy my time with while I'm supposed to be working.
I suppose the best place to start would be the graphics, since this is the "Artistic Achiever" of 2011. The first thing you may notice is that this game is a straight 2D platformer. There are no 3D elements being presented in the background, or even character models which are rendered in 3D (As far as I know). The backdrops, characters, environments, and everything else are being presented as 2D, hand-drawn, animation; and it is gorgeous! The colors they use are very bright and vivid, and the HD presentation allows you to see every little artistic detail that makes this game a beautiful work of art. It's interesting that the developers didn't go this route for "Rayman Legends", as that game just kind of goes for the standard 2.5D fare, as if it's a HD update of an older game. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination (In fact, Legends is still fairly beautiful), but it lacks that feel of watching a cartoon that Origins has.
The music is also something to behold, as it is unique within it's own right. It's very cutesy and upbeat, like something you would hear in a children's cartoon. It containsa full orchestra of eukeleles, kazoos, banjos, harmonizing chipmunks, and...a random baritone in the third world, which was my favorite part. One thing about the music is that it's something totally different from world to world. The only thing that really repeats is the choir of chipmunks and even they change to fit the theme and mood of the world you're playing in. All-in-all the soundtrack only adds even more charm to this potion of fun!
Now for the meat and potatoes of this very festive and flavorful stew: The gameplay! How does this game actually play? Is it fun? Is it Playable? Are there glitches? Well, luckily I've only stumbled across one glitch so far (Which I would have deducted a star for had I not found a way around it.) and it's the one you come across at the end of the Sea of Serendipity treasure chase. If you've come across it, then you would know it, becasue it makes the last world impossible to unlock unless you can find a work-around. However, with that one bug aside, to answer the second and third question; yes and yes! As for the first question: the game plays like any 2D side-scroller made in this day and age. Like Super Meat Boy, the Bit.Trip series, and Cave Story the controls are limited to forward, backward, up, and down with the objective being (In most levels) go to the right until you win. The only thing is that there are obstacles and monsters which obstruct your path, and impede your progress. Along the way you can find secrets and unlock hidden levels and characters. Although unlike the games mentioned earlier, this game is much more forgiving. This isn't to say it's not challenging! But, you aren't penalized too hard for messing up, with checkpoints littered throughout each area you'll find it easy to die, but you'll also find it easy to get back to where you were so as not to have to repeat the ENTIRE level. Rayman Origins isn't the hard-nosed piano teacher who makes you play the whole piece when you mess up; it is instead the laid-back buddy who's teaching you to play guitar. He'll just have you go back and repeat that section until you get it right, and then the two of you will sit around, drink some beers, and play some Rayman Origins!
The level and character design are both tremendously creative. Sure, you have your standard fare: Ice World, Grass World, Desert World, Water World, rinse, repeat; but the thing about it is that there's also a theme attached to each world, like the Desert World is the Desert of Dijeridoos, and the Ice World is a food themed world called Gourmand Land (And also doubles as a Fire World in the latter half). There are a wide range of colorful and unique enemies and NPCs in this game. This game seems like Ubisoft's attempt to one-up the SMB Wii game that was also a big platformer at the time. What's that?" Asks Ubisoft. "You guys have 4-player co-op featuring the Mario Brothers as Players 1 and 2 with near identical toads as 3 and 4? Well, our game has that, accept we offer a wide selection of characters for 3 and 4, as well as reskinned versions of 1 and 2." The enemies also offer a lot of variety! I'll give an example from Gourmand Land's second half: In this bit you'll see fire spewing lizards in aprons and chef's hats, a chili pepper bathing in a pot of boiling water, and kernals of corn which turn into fluffy popcorn platforms when dropped in fire. These are just a few of the creatively designed enemies you'll come across along your adventures, it seems like there's always something new to look at.
So let's talk story now...there isn't one! Ha! Only joking. In all seriousness though, there isn't a whole lot of plot with this game. Not that there needs to be, like most old-school platformers, it's more about the gameplay than it is the story. Though this is what I gather from the intro cutscene: Rayman & Co. are in the Glade of Dreams atop a branch of The Snoring Tree, and are snoring...very loudly. They're snoring so loudly in fact that they are irritating their downstairs neighbors in The Land of the Livid Dead, so much so that the creatures from down below make their way up to the Glade of Dreams to capture all of the Electoons and Lums, along with Rayman and his friends. Breaking free, Rayman & Co. make their way across the Glade, kicking the butt of all antitoons that cross their path! There's also a twist ending that I won't spoil, in case you're so immersed in the story that spoiling the twist ending would cause you to go into a deep depression.
In summation, this is an extremely enjoyable experience. The gameplay is solid, and fast-paced while remaining somewhat forgiving; the game looks beautiful, and the music is the equivalent of ear-candy; and the 4 player co-op, along with the cartoon-esque humor, creates an experience the whole family can enjoy! If you haven't played this game yet, get it! It's totally worth your time, and will effectively charm you to your core.