Friday, July 10, 2015

Rayman Legends (Vita) Review

With the announcement and trailer earlier this week of Rayman Adventures, it seemed like an opportune time to replay Rayman Legends. Instead of just replaying the Wii U version, I decided to dust off my PlayStation Vita and try that version out. A gamer can never have too much Rayman, right?

Is touching still considered good? Wait. Wrong handheld!

Those who have followed the development and release of Rayman Legends probably know the story and controversy of its launch well. The game was originally a Wii U exclusive, but due to the poor sales of ZombiU, Ubisoft got cold feet, delaying the release of the Wii U version while porting it to several other platforms. The title ended up bombing everywhere sadly, most likely due to its September launch period, right in the thick of a busy release schedule of games that easily overshadowed it.

It's a good thing, though, that Rayman Legends was delayed, because in the end, during the delay period, the developers added more content to the title. If Rayman Legends released without its "Back to Origins" content (i.e. the added content), the game would very much not be worth its full cost price point.

Wow! That breeze feels nice between my legs!
Rayman Legends is much more like its predecessor Rayman Origins than earlier Rayman games. It's much more forgiving with its checkpoints aplenty, and its level design is more akin to Origins than say, the original Rayman. Each level in Rayman Legends has its own gimmick to it, and I say that word with a positive connotation. One level has Rayman rushing through a contraption-filled castle, while another presents a set of towers that sink into sand, threatening to bury Rayman with it if he doesn't keep the pace.

Don't worry about drowning, Rayman.
All you have to worry about is this security!
Like the Wii U version, there are special Murfy levels, of which there are about two per the game's five worlds, which have you utilizing the touch screen (whether the front screen or the rear-- it's your choice) to manipulate platforms, move objects, freeze enemies in their tracks by poking or tickling them, and otherwise assist your platforming AI partner. Like the Wii U version, you can get a local buddy to play with you, but the process requires two PlayStation Vita systems and two copies of the game. Not exactly the easiest setup, especially since those who have the access to such a setup are rare.

One of several creative boss encounters in Rayman Legends.
Otherwise you're stuck with an AI partner, who for the most part behaves well and does what you'd want it to do. However, during the moments where the AI doesn't handle itself well will have you flipping out. It's highly frustrating when the AI partner saunters to its death when you perfect laid out a path for it to follow. It's also a bit trying having your finger covering up the small real estate that is the Vita's screen. Too many times I couldn't see what was happening because I was using my finger to move an obstacle out of the way. Thankfully, much like the traditional solo platforming levels, there are an abundance of checkpoints, so death is rarely punished severely. This makes the sometimes daft partner AI and bothersome touch screen issues all the more tolerable.

Many Teensie bonus room locations are hidden well.
Most levels in Rayman Legends have ten Teensies to uncover. Eight of which are spread out in secret locations in the level themselves, awaiting Rayman to break them free from their cages and otherwise captivity while the other two are in special bonus rooms where completing a certain task frees the Teensie from their prison. Teensies are vital to collect for the most part, as some levels have locks on them that will only open once enough of the blue dwarf-like characters are collected.

"Psst. Be a pal and break me out of here, huh?"
In addition to rescuing Teensies, Rayman can also collect Lums. Collecting a specific amount in total for a given level can unlock up to three trophies-- bronze, silver, and gold-- as well as award you with lucky tickets. The latter have you scratch them off with the touch screen to unlock an assortment of prizes, including the aforementioned "Back to Origins" levels.

Yes, most of the levels from Rayman Origins, the previous Rayman game which also saw a release on the Vita, have returned with a new coat of paint, new locations for Teensies, and familiar designs to anyone who has played Origins. These levels essentially double the longevity of what would otherwise be a relatively short game. While it would have been nicer to see more wholly new levels, these of the "Back to Origins" variety are better than nothing.

Alongside these levels are unlockable music-based levels that are highly entertaining. They present you with a cover of a song, and you jump, punch, kick, and otherwise platform in time with the music. From "Black Betty" to "Eye of the Tiger", these levels are well designed and fun to play, even if you're just playing them repeatedly just for the enjoyment of it.

Rayman has the eye of the tiger in this music level.
However, what isn't a fun and enjoyable series of levels is the last batch of unlockable levels. These are 8-bit representations of the music levels. While on their own, they are just fine, but what kills the entertainment factor of these levels and brings up the frustration several fold are the intentional graphical glitches that occur while playing these. They're meant to imitate what it was like playing on an old television set, but things like immense blurriness, static, and other graphical tricks just make these levels a pain to play and pretty unfair, too. These levels make up the weakest part of Rayman Legends's offerings.

Outside of the single player story mode, there are daily and weekly online challenges that task you with reaching the goal in the fastest time possible, collecting the most Lums, and making the farthest in a given level. While these online challenges are fun for the first few weeks, as it is great to compete with other players indirectly via the leaderboards, there are but a handful of different level types to play before you start seeing repetition arriving. It doesn't help that Rayman Legends also houses some insane grinds if you want to get the game's platinum trophy.

Careful, Rayman. Don't let those guys give you a hand!
Rayman Legends looks absolutely divine on the PlayStation Vita screen. Colors are rich, environments are lush, and characters are lively and full of detail. The UbiArt engine is used to phenomenal effect in Rayman Legends, rarely displaying any signs of slowdown. When it concerns sound, the soundtrack is full of catchy orchestral ditties and plenty of eccentric, eclectic sounds that I couldn't help but smile while listening to them.

A heart next to Rayman means he can take an extra hit before dying.
If you can deal with some of the minor issues of the game (such as some annoying partner AI during Murfy levels, a shortage of different levels in the online challenges mode, and a repeat of content from Rayman Origins) and don't mind playing a console experience on the small screen, then the PlayStation Vita version of Rayman Legends is a desirable entry for your gaming library. Rayman controls as tightly as a 2D platforming fan would want and expect, and the game is wonderfully designed from top to bottom.

[SPC Says: B]

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