Rayman Origins
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: 1-4
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Rayman Origins sees Rayman returning to the classic 2D platforming gameplay of the original. It was initially designed to be a prequel, explaining how Rayman came to be, but apart from an introductory video showing this, the game itself doesn’t explain any more than you already know.

The story starts with Rayman and friends sleeping in the Snoring Tree; unfortunately a microphone disguised as a flower sends their snoring down to the Land of the Livid Dead, upsetting a zombie granny. She retaliates by sending an army of all horrible creatures and Darktoons up to the world, called the Glade of Dreams, encaging and capturing the Electoons and Nymphs who inhabit the world. The goal for Rayman and friends is to free all the captured Electoons and Nymphs and banish all the Darktoons from the world.

The game itself is split up into 5 different worlds, each with a different theme, ranging from jungle, to the deep sea, to a strange ice themed world, with giant pieces of fruit. In total there are over 60 levels to play through. Most levels have a similar format; you start at one end, and work your way through various kinds of environments, turning enemies into bubbles which can then be popped, and avoiding traps. At the end of each level is a cage which, once smashed, releases some Electoons, and it is these Electoons which must be freed in order to unlock further levels and progress through the game. As well as the Electoon cage at the end of the level, most levels have two hidden cages. Each cage is at the end of a puzzle which is accessed through a concealed door. Each cage can only be broken once all the enemies in the puzzle have been bubblised. Some of these hidden doors can be very tricky to find, but there’s a always a telltale sign that one is near, as you can hear Electoons calling for help, often quite loudly.

Unlike most platforming games, Rayman Origins doesn’t feature lives, meaning you can die as many times as you like during one level and still complete it. Each level is split into sections, and if you die in a section you’ll generally start back at the beginning of that section, although some longer levels have checkpoints mid-way through. A section is between two “eyeball doors”, where a blob-like creature with only an eyeball blocks the way through. These eyeball doors are destroyed with a single hit, but when you go through them they reappear, sometimes without their eye meaning you can’t go back, often before a boss fight. This lack of a lives mechanic means that on the whole levels aren’t too frustrating as you’re not worrying about losing lives all the time, but it does mean that if you keep dying in a part of a level, you can become stuck in a ‘die and retry and die again’ loop, where you keep dying at the same point again and again, especially in some of the more difficult levels - I’m sure I had more than 50 retries at the end part of the last level before I eventually managed it!

Each level contains Lums scattered throughout. Lums are Rayman’s equivalent of coins; they are small yellow beings with wings, arms and legs. At the end of the level the Magician will collect all the Lums you collected through a level into a test tube, and once certain numbers are reached, you are rewarded with Electoons. If the test tube is completely filled, normally requiring around 350 Lums, then you will unlock a Lum medal for that level. Collecting the requisite number of Lums can be very difficult in some levels, and you will almost never achieve it first time round, meaning replays are needed. Each level will also have a few King Lums which, once collected, will awaken the yellow Lums, turning them red and starting them singing. They only remain awake for a limited amount of time but if any of the now red Lums are collected they are worth twice their normal amount, meaning if you’re quick it can be much easier to collect the large number needed for the medal.

Not all levels have you running on foot across the platforms, at least once per world there is a level which has you riding on the back of a mosquito, or in the case of Globox being carried by the mosquito. The mosquito has the ability to suck in objects, which can later be shot out, or to shoot pellets, which is useful for killing enemies flying towards you.

Once a level has been completed most can be replayed in a time trial-like mode, activated by hitting the gold stopwatch at the beginning of the level. The game will then time how long you take through the level until you reach the flag at the end. Your current time and the times to beat are shown at the side of the screen. Beating one time will unlock Electoons for you, and beating the second, quicker time will unlock the time trial medal for that level.

Electoons have a number of uses in the game. Firstly they are used to unlock new levels, this means that you have to make sure you find a certain number in order to progress but will also unlock extra challenges, one in each world, for you once certain numbers are reached. In the Snoring Tree there are a number of bubbles, each with numbers above them. Once these numbers of Electoons have been reached the bubble will be accessible. Each bubble is a different costume for one of the characters, with the Teensies having the most. The extra challenge levels unlocked in each world are basically like races. As you enter the level a treasure chest will spot you and start to run off, you will then have to give chase. The screen is constantly moving to the right, following the chest so if you move too slowly you will fall off the left side and die. If you manage to reach the end, past all the obstacles and perilous traps then the chest will open and the prize within is yours. This prize is a ruby coloured tooth, which can be given to the grim reaper in the Snoring Tree, once all have been given to him, he’ll move out the way of the doorway he’s blocking giving you access to a bonus level.

The nymphs are entrapped in cages by Darktoons, each one being in a different level, one per world. Freeing these nymphs happens in a similar way to the challenge levels, but with a cage containing the nymph instead of a chest. Once you’ve caught up with the cage it will try and avoid you, typically by moving behind obstacles and moving when you get near. Your aim here is to hit and kill the cage, thus freeing the nymph. Once the nymph is free she will grant you a new power, which can then be used throughout the game, even on previous levels, often helping you find more hidden Electoons. These powers are introduced at critical points in the game just as you need them, such as hovering to jump across longer gaps, and running along walls, introduced when you need to work your way around lots of caves.

Rayman Origins has been completely designed to be played through with up to 3 of your friends, with ‘drop in drop out’ available. The four playable characters, also available to choose between if you’re playing by yourself, are Rayman, Globox and two different coloured Teensies. Each character is virtually identical stats-wise, all having the same running speed etc., but they do have different attacks, as would be expected from different creatures. Playing co-op does add a fun competitive layer to the whole game. As you play through the levels the Lum count for each player is tracked and the player with the most Lums at the end is crowned the winner, although the Lums are all added into the same test tube. With the ‘no lives’ system ,dying in co-op is slightly different to singleplayer, it’s only when you’re all dead at the same time that you restart at the last checkpoint, otherwise the dead player will become bubblised, and can move around until one of the other players pops them and returns them to the game.

Graphics-wise this is one of the best looking games released this year; it is very much like an interactive cartoon rather than a game. Even though it’s only 2D, the amount of detail which has gone into each level is amazing, with plant life springing to life around you, or a giant monster eating a village in the background. The background and foreground each have their own distinct design brimming with activity, although there are a few places where they seem to merge together, with very similar colours. The sound is well suited to the levels, with short, catchy tunes played throughout the levels, varying from world to world and level to level. Many of these will have you humming them for days. There are a few that can get quite annoying after a while, especially if you keep retrying a level, but in the most part they’re just very catchy.

Overall Rayman Origins is a brilliant 2D platformer, and looks almost more like a quality animated movie than it does a video game. It is let down in a few places by the difficulty of some of the levels which varies wildly, but after a few tries you’ll hopefully memorise how not to die and complete it. If you easily get annoyed by high-pitched voices singing repetitively then I would advise turning down the background sound in a couple of levels but apart from that I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t want to buy this cracking platformer.

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Best Bits

- Beautiful graphics.
- Lots of levels with a range of themes.
- Collectables.
- Reasons to replay levels.
- ‘Drop-in drop-out’ co-op.
Worst Bits

- Can be very difficult in places.
- Music can get a bit annoying.

by: coolalien

Copyright © Gamecell 2011