Rayman Legends Preview
When Rayman Origins was released in 2011, it surprised a lot of people (myself included), with its beautiful visuals, superb balance of simple yet challenging gameplay, and its replay value. With the sequel, Rayman Legends, releasing early next month, I took the chance to sit down with the recently released demo, to see if it was possible for beautifully animated lightning to strike twice.
The demo for Rayman Legends offers three levels, with a further two available to be unlocked following completion of the initial three. The three levels, Teensies in Trouble, Toad Story, and Castle Rock, display the range of gameplay that can be found within Rayman Legends, while the two unlockables are riffs on Teensies in Trouble and Toad Story, but with a much higher difficulty level, and a timer. Teensies in Trouble is much like the platforming that can be found in Rayman Origins, Toad Story allows Rayman to make use of his glide ability whilst floating through various airstreams, and Castle Rock is by far the best level on offer within the demo, though unfortunately it is also the shortest. In Castle Rock, which plays much like an endless runner, Rayman is tasked with running through a castle as it falls apart around him, all whilst “Black Betty” by Ram Jam is playing in the background, with level events matching the beat of the song. Honestly, if you can make it through this level without a smile appearing on your face, you might just be dead inside, and I’d recommend downloading the demo just to experience this level alone.
Whilst Legends does seem to play similarly to Origins, there are a couple of additions that mix up the formula a little. Most noticeable in the demo is the inclusion of Murfy the Fairy, who first appeared in Rayman 2. In Legends, Murfy is called upon by pressing the B button, and can aid Rayman by moving switches and levers, and helping out in defeating enemies, by both poking them in the eyes and tickling them. Otherwise, much of Rayman Legends is familiar, with plenty of Lums to collect, Teensies to rescue, and secret passages and doors to uncover.
Finding all of these secrets is what makes Rayman Legends more challenging for the experienced gamer. While on the surface the game is easy enough for kids to run through whilst admiring the pretty graphics and varied enemy designs, there’s more than enough additional content to keep hardcore players or completionists busy for quite some time. Collecting set numbers of Lums in each level awards different grades of cups upon the level’s completion, and there are also ten different Teensies to find and rescue in most levels. Teensies add to the Lum total at the end of each level, and then these Lums are used to unlock both characters and character costumes. In the demo, there are two secret characters to unlock, priced at 1000 and 3000 Lums respectively.
Similarly to Rayman Origins, players are given a wide selection of who they can play the game as, and the demo is no exception. Alongside Rayman, the game can be played as Barbara (a barbarian), Globox, Grand Minimus and Goth Teensy, who are all Teensies. Each character model looks entirely unique, and, combined with the variation in the enemy models who appear in the demo, go a long way to keeping your eyes just as busy watching the screen as your hands are when holding the controller.
From the evidence on show here, Rayman Legends not only matches the brilliance in Rayman Origins, but actually improves upon it. As mentioned, the Castle Rock level is near impossible to play without breaking into a grin, and the two other levels on show here are platforming at their finest. Though Wii U owners may be disappointed that Rayman Legends is no longer platform-exclusive to Nintendo’s console, owners of other devices should be delighted that Legends is heading their way. On the basis of this demo, Rayman Legends could well be the best platforming game that fans receive this year, and looks to be an experience that should be enjoyed by everyone.
Rayman Legends releases for Wii U, PlayStation 3 and Vita and Xbox 360 on September 3.
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