I have never played any of the Rayman games apart from Raving Rabbids on the Wii, but I don’t think that really counts. With a chance to play as the originator of the series, I was super excited to get Rayman Origins for the PS3.
And I am pleasantly surprised to say: Ubisoft, you have simply blown me away! From the very start I was mesmerised by the colours and music; drawn in to play the first two worlds without a break. I didn’t even realise how much of I had played initially.
Here’s the set-up: Rayman is just chillaxing with his pals when he manages to annoy a Granny from the Land of the Livid Dead. The Gran sends out her forces, capturing the Electoons and some fairies in cages and (you guessed it) it’s your job to save them.
Throughout each level you collect Lums (as many as you can please!) and your aim is to rescue the Electoons from the cage at the end, though there are other cages hidden in each level. There are also King Lums, which when collected double the bonus of the regular Lums. This also sets them off singing which always had me in giggles trying to replicate (only when no one is watching of course). If you manage to collect a lot of these Lums – and I mean a lot – you can earn extra Electoons at the end of the levels. Also on the collectibles list are Skull Teeth. All of these are pretty vital for unlocking future stages of the game, often causing the player to go back and repeat a level or two. Usually replaying levels you’ve already completed can be a bit tiresome but I really didn’t find this was the case with Rayman; they’re so well designed and full of secrets and hidden surprises. Oh and there is the odd fairy you will need to rescue too. Are you writing all this down?
Naturally at the end of each world you have your boss fights where you jump onto the back of a mosquito and fly through the level shooting enemies or sucking in flying barrels (that I can only guess are gunpowder) and spitting them back out at other enemies (a tactic used on bosses also).
There are 5 initial worlds (Jibberish Jungle, Desert of Dijiridoos, Gourmand Land, Sea of Senendipity and Mystical Pique) to work through and once you have completed the initial run through you can go back and play newly unlocked levels within these worlds. It doesn’t end there though; you then get to go to the Moody Clouds and finally those skull teeth come in handy as they take you to the final showdown.
To start with you run and jump and that’s about it, but as the game progresses you gain new abilities such as being able to shrink down to a small size or utilising a hover-glide technique Rayman can do with his hair. The progression of your skill set is done very well and you quickly become this whirling, jumping, kicking and punching thingamagig of awesomeness. The controls are really easy to pick up, and for someone as easily confused as me that’s a bonus!
The music throughout the game is brilliant and funny, as is the level design. It’s so colourful and eccentric that you can’t help but grin as you see each new zone and the visual treats it presents you with. The ice levels had me speeding through like a Sonic game, but you also travel through desserts, climbing up didgeridoos and riding along on the back of a wooden flute. There are watermelons and dinosaurs and much more and as bizarre as that all sounds, it makes sense in the context of a Rayman game. The levels are vibrant with colour and detail, but at the same time it’s very clean and the visuals are never too busy. On the odd occasion I was unsure some of the platforms and pillars I saw were part of the gameplay or the background, but it was a rare problem. Its been a long time since we saw a platform game like this as a mainstream release, and the quality of the game makes you wonder why.
As regards re-playability and value, you can unlock other characters to play and there is a co-op mode for up to 4 times the chaos. Even without those features, the game is so unique and has so little competition in the 2D platforming arena that you will enjoy going back. Its humour, warmth and bright aesthetic are the perfect antidote to a world of dull, brown, futuristic FPS games.
The return of Michel Ancel here shows why he is a legend in the world of games designers. His triumph here is creating a title with hours of insanely good and colourful fun with some funky music, and at the end of the day who doesn’t want that?
I have a request to make. Go and get this game.
No really. Go.
Stop reading this, go and get the game now!!
There are games that have no hype, come out of nowhere and are better than anyone expects them to be. Ico. Rez. Psychonauts. Rayman Origins now joins that list. In years to come, make sure you are one of the smart people who were ahead of everyone else and got this game before it became a collectors item.
Now that I am finished, I’m almost scared to go back to previous Rayman games just in case they don’t live up to how wonderful this game is. If they do then I feel like I’ve really got a lot of awesome to catch up on. Make sure YOU don’t miss out on THIS.
10 Rabid Reviewers Recommending Rayman out of 10