Rayman Origins
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Developer:
    • Ubisoft
  • Publisher:
    • Ubisoft
  • Released:
    Wii
    • US 11/15/2011
    • UK 11/25/2011
    360
    • US 11/15/2011
    • UK 11/25/2011
    PS3
    • US 11/15/2011
    • UK 11/25/2011
    • JP 04/12/2012
    Vita
    • US 02/15/2012
    • UK 02/22/2012
    • JP 04/12/2012
    PC
    • US 03/29/2012
    • UK 03/30/2012
    3DS
    • UK 06/08/2012
    • JP 07/19/2012
    • US 11/06/2012
Score: 80%

This review was published on 04/02/2013.

Rayman Origins is a 2-D, side-scrolling platform game released for almost every platform under the sun. It's available on the Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, 3DS, Vita, PC, and possibly a few other things. You should have no issues finding this game for your platform of choice. What started out as a remake of the original Rayman became something much more. As its name implies, Rayman Origins has Rayman returning to his origins by bringing back what people liked about the original game, while leaving out the stuff that people didn't like. In an age where these kinds of games are few and far between, Rayman Origins stands tall as a shining example of how to do a modern rendition of this classic genre. Even though it's a bit derivative at times, Rayman Origins is an excellent game for those craving some old school fun.

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Rayman Origins has some of the best graphics in the history of video games. Well, maybe that's going a little overboard, but these are some good visuals. Ubisoft pulled out all the stops with this one, as they developed a special graphics engine just for this game. They called it the UbiArt Framework, and it allowed artists to easily insert their art into the game with minimal programming. As a result of that, the artists were able to better focus on honing their craft. It certainly paid off. What I personally like about Rayman Origins' graphics is that it's true 2-D artwork, and not 3-D models on a two dimensional plane. Not many video games go with traditional hand-drawn art these days, so this stands Rayman Origins out from the crowd. Whichever platform you opt to go for, Rayman Origins has breathtaking visuals. If you want to get the best of the best, however, then you should stick to one of the HD platforms and see the spectacular graphics displayed in 720p or full 1080p. Everything runs at a solid 60 frames per second, too, so the animation is as smooth as silk. The game will still look excellent on platforms with lower resolutions, so don't feel bad if you're forced to get the Wii or 3DS version. No matter how you slice it, Rayman Origins is a marvelous sight to behold.

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If you've played Donkey Kong Country Returns and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, then you'll have a pretty good idea of what Rayman Origins entails. Rayman Origins is like a combination of those two games; it has the fast-paced, precision platform game play of the former, plus the four player cooperative multiplayer madness of the latter. That may not sound like the wisest combination ever, but somehow, it works. Players can drop in and out of the game at any time, making multiplayer a very easy option. Ubisoft also saw fit to get rid of the outdated lives system, so players will have unlimited tries at beating a particular section of the game. Of course, that doesn't mean the game is easy. In fact, Rayman Origins is high on old school challenge. Don't be surprised if it takes you countless tries to get through the later levels in the game. There's not a whole lot Rayman Origins does wrong in the game play department, but certain aspects of its design feel a little too inspired by the aforementioned games. For example, there are some levels in Rayman Origins where only the silhouettes are visible, which is a very cool design choice... until you realize the same exact thing was done before in Donkey Kong Country Returns. If this were a lesser game, I would be more critical of that, but because Rayman Origins is so good, I'll let that one slide.

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To vary up the game play, Rayman Origins incorporates a few aerial segments. These aerial segments were also present in the original Rayman, but they've been expanded upon considerably in this iteration. Rayman can hop onto his large mosquito buddy and fly around beautiful environments in an auto-scrolling segment that will test your aerial maneuverability skills. At this point, the game will start to play like a shooter, kind of like Gradius. You can fire projectiles at incoming enemies to blow them out of the sky, or inhale them into your gullet to later blow them out into other foes, kind of like Kirby. The sucking mechanic adds a fair amount of complexity to these sections, so it's a welcome addition. It's rarely necessary to use, but it can come in handy during a pinch. Admittedly, the suck mechanic can feel a bit too complex at times, because these shooter segments are often too frantic to strategically plan out use of that attack. Still, it's nice that you're given so many options. If games like R-Type were never your cup of tea, then don't worry, because only a few levels are like this. Rayman Origins is a platform game, first and foremost, and it never loses sight of that. The shooter sections aren't half bad, though, so most players will likely enjoy them as neat diversions from the main game.

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Every boss in Rayman Origins is one of two things; a puzzle or an environmental challenge. Sometimes, it's both of those things combined. It either comes down to figuring out the boss' pattern and conquering it, or merely surviving long enough to see the big "kill me" button. Very rarely will you be forced to slowly whittle down a boss' life bar. When it comes right down to it, puzzling environmental challenges make for some of the best bosses in a platform game. That's probably why most platform games of the modern era stick to these kinds of bosses, and Rayman Origins does just that. The bosses never feel repetitive in this game, either. Each boss will alter its pattern whenever you land a hit on it, so the fight remains interesting all throughout. One blemish Rayman Origins has in regards to bosses is the boss rush at the end of the game. Sure, these bosses are cool, but are they really cool enough to fight twice? I doubt it. Not all the bosses reappear in the boss rush, but it's still sad to see such a cheap tactic employed in a high quality game like Rayman Origins. On the bright side, the bosses look different the second time you fight them. There's that to look forward to, I guess.

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Electoons, the pink little guys from the first Rayman, make their return in Rayman Origins. Just like in the first game, Electoons can be found inside cages hidden throughout the varied environments. Unlike the first game, finding Electoons is actually fun. The passageways leading to Electoons are typically hidden behind foreground objects that peel away as you approach them. You can hear the Electoons make sounds when you get near such a passage, so they aren't too hard to find. Upon entering one of these lightly hidden passages, you will encounter a puzzle or a small challenge. Completing these will result in the captive Electoons being freed. Even if you don't like collecting stuff, these puzzle rooms are good fun and worth doing. Another way to get Electoons is to collect Lums. Lums are like the gold coins of Rayman Origins, and they earn you additional Electoons if you collect enough by the end of a stage. Most of the Electoons are optional, but some of them are required if you intend on finishing the game. This is kind of annoying, because if you don't collect enough Electoons on a regular basis, you will be forced to replay previous levels until you have enough. Collecting Electoons in Rayman Origins is fun, but it should remain an optional task.

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In order to access the true finale of the game, you need to collect all of the red teeth. These mystical items are inside of chests in special "chase" levels. The chase levels are all about chasing after a moving treasure chest in a fast-paced level. Rayman Origins already follows this design philosophy in its normal levels, but these levels place a much greater emphasis on it than the rest of the game. You can't even look back for a second, or else face death. What makes these levels extra challenging is the total lack of checkpoints. The rest of the game is fairly generous with checkpoints, but that's not the case with these special chase levels. Ubisoft decided to balance this by making these chase levels really short. The levels certainly won't feel short, because you'll probably die over a million times on these things. I don't think it'd be an exaggeration to say these are the hardest levels in the entire game. And the reward for completing the hardest set of levels in the game is the hardest level in the game. At least the final level has checkpoints. The last level is a little anticlimactic, but getting there is where the fun truly lies. If you're looking for a challenge, then Rayman Origins has you covered.

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Rayman Origins proves that the retro platform games from those long bygone days are still alive and kickin'. It proves that the old fashioned art of hand-drawn artwork is still relevant even today, when almost all visuals are polygonal. And it proves that a 2-D platform game can be sold on a retail disc for home consoles, something that rarely happens anymore. It's not the only game to have done these things, and it certainly wasn't the one to initiate the 2-D platform game craze that has taken stage as of late. Rayman Origins is also not perfect; the boss rush at the end was uncalled for, and replaying stages to collect Electoons is annoying. It's still a great game and definitely worth a look if you like old school platform games.

Word Count: 1,651

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