Back to basics becomes belated brilliance
My class for videogames 101 had a plethora of colourful teachers. Sonic honed my reflexes. Spyro flared some strange passion to search the darkest corners of lands for glittery items. Crash taught me that spinning into my problems was better than talking about them. One 90’s gaming mascot that didn’t get much love from me however, was Rayman, and Rayman Origins has made me see the error of my ways. After what seems like an age without the floppy haired do-gooder, Rayman returns…not with much of a bang to begin with. Turns out him and his pals have managed to rile up some neighbouring old hag simply by snoozing in a funky rhythm rather loudly. Bamboozled and frustrated by the dozing racket, she decides to summon a legion of shadow based monsters to invade the land. Not ones to nap through such a crisis, Rayman and his pals set foot on an adventure to rid the world of the nefarious enemies and go back to sleep. Plucking the spotlight from many a Rabbid that have been hogging it for the past few years, Rayman Originsis a back to basics revival of the hero who’s completely ‘armless. …ha. Many a game on the downloadable marketplace have tried to replicate the simple charms of yesteryear with their own unique flairs. Rayman Origins gracefully bows to those beautifully crafted platformers, pays its respects to their talents and then pulls off its own graces without even breaking a sweat. You’ll bop on enemies’ heads in order to inflate them to near explosive levels, ridding the world of shadowy enemies and stride through acres of hazards to reach your goals, but each level comes with its own charm packaged up with a glittery bow. One minute you’re swinging through crumbling ruins in dense jungles, the next you’re in a musical desert balancing on guitar stings and bouncing off drums. In an industry that seems to crave imagination, Rayman Origins brings it in bucketloads. The difficulty curve that takes you from beginning to end is beautifully smooth, almost as if Mr Miyagi is teaching you the fundamentals of 2D platforming. However, should you be a collectable hoovering maniac, the game is as hard as you want it to be right from the get go. Scattered throughout levels are Lums, tiny critters eager to be rescued, and gathering a set number can bag you rewards. Hoarding Rayman’s answer to rings and coins is simple on paper and simple in practice, until you reach the end and face palm yourself at such bog standard results. Strolling through levels snagging Lums lining the main route barely bags you anything, and you soon find yourself replaying levels and daring to ensnare the hardest to reach Lums for the maximum prizes.
Deserves at least 10 minutes of your time…though that’s just about long enough to be drawn in for hours
No one should be ashamed of becoming a little OCD when playing Rayman Origins, but it requires tremendous patience to capture the hardest to reach Lums. Should younger gamers get frustrated, however, up to three more players can jump in and team up…or slap each other in the face. Playing co-operatively doesn’t essentially grant you any perks, but boosts a certain commodore at conquering the hardest of segments and forces ‘experts’ whom scream out instructions at the inexperienced to eat their words by easily jumping in. Although the game reaches heights of difficulty that can tease your patience, it never demeans you to the point where you walk away wiping away tears. The controls are expectedly simple and remarkably smooth, so if you slip up and take a trip into depths of death, you have no one to blame but yourself. It seems weird to compliment a checkpoint system, but because you’re never too far away from a point of revival, you end up narrowing your eyes and prepping for a montage of frenzied attempts, each death sparking off another attempt until you eventually reach the end of the level. Be you competitive or not, Rayman Origins is in danger of becoming outlawed due to its addictiveness. I could say the entire game looks like a perfect Saturday morning cartoon, but that would be patronising. Whimsical, glorious and mesmerising are but a few words that come to mind when eyes clasp to the screen. I shouldn’t stare in awe at something so simple, yet each two dimensional level is layered with beautifully detailed backgrounds, designed with a characteristically cool flair that doesn’t patronise the young or alienate the mature. If the compulsive need to gather collectables doesn’t bring you back, the eye soaking beauty of the locales certainly will. Rayman Origins manages to tick all the boxes of a well established list of platformer musts, a seemingly obvious plus, but the tight controls, make your own difficulty set-up and artistic merits are so beautifully packaged that you can’t help but stare at it before unravelling its goodness. It seems Ubisoft haven’t shunned the legless hero or put him on vacation for all these years. Rather they sent him on a quest away from the eyes of gamers to uncover the long lost rulebook/bible of platformers and has been studying in a cave somewhere deep in the mountains. Boy has it payed off. Rayman Origins embodies all the simple pleasures that delved me into gaming to begin with, its simplicity proving that you don’t need to whoo audiences with high claims of technical prowess and complexity to make an enjoyable game. Possibly the best platformer of this generation, Rayman Origins deserves at least 10 minutes of your time…though that’s just about long enough to be drawn in for hours.
The Bad: Can really get incredibly tough should the inexperienced dare try to collect everything