Rayman Legends - what a crazy ride it’s been. Originally announced as a launch title exclusive to the Wii U, then to see not only one but two lengthy delays as well as the announcement of the game then going multiplatform, let’s just say this game has been a long time coming. Finally though Rayman is back and with plenty of hype behind the limbless hero’s latest adventure, can the game possibly meet these already high expectations?
For those unaware of the limbless weirdo’s antics, Rayman Legends is a 2D platformer similar to that of the New Super Mario series where up to four (five on Wii U) players all make their way across a series of stages simultaneously. As you can imagine, the more players you add to the mix, the more hectic things become (in a good way). The game handles pretty much like Rayman Origins did. You can still perform all the standard platforming trademarks such as running, jumping and punching along with some more advanced abilities like sprinting up walls and hovering using your helicopter hair. Rayman and his crew are easy to get to grips with and feel extremely tight to control, vital especially with many of the latter stages.
Much like any 2D platformer, Legends features a vast array of stages, all which can be accessed by jumping into paintings in the game’s hub area. It’s a nice alternative to the usual world map approach and makes for getting to stages a lot quicker which is exactly what you want from a platformer. The difficulty curve feels just right throughout as well with even the toughest stages never succumbing to frustration thanks to a forgiving checkpoint system that never spawns you too far behind.
A majority of the game features stages that simply focus on the platforming alone with Murphy available as an optional extra. The Murphy specific stages however see one player using the Gamepad’s touch screen and gyroscope to manipulate the environment in order to help the other players as they make their way through the level. Whereas New Super Mario Bros U’s “Boost Mode” used a similar idea, it amounted to no more than the Gamepad player simply placing blocks on screen (a rather dull experience). Rayman Legends actively involves the Gamepad player giving them interesting ways to interact whether it’s moving platforms, cutting ropes for players to swing on or carving a path through giant cakes. Playing as Murphy you feel just as vital as the other gamers and in turn you feel more invested in the experience. If you’re playing alone, the game forces you to control Murphy, delegating control of the platforming character to the AI. Sadly this just isn’t anywhere near as much fun as playing with your buddies.
Music stages have players constantly running from a giant wall of fire leaping and beating their way past pitfalls and enemies all in time with a piece of music. Chances are you’ve already seen videos of the castle stage complete with Black Betty playing in the background - Rayman jumping in time with the bam-A-lam’s or the epic guitar solo playing as you slide down a metal chain. These are literally quite brilliant, it’s just a shame there are only five in the game.
As you play through the game, “Invasion” stages will also periodically show up and feature remixed versions of existing levels, only this time much tougher and pitting you against the clock. These are very tough to beat in gold trophy time and are sure to please those eager for a challenge.
While making it through these levels is one thing, finding all ten Teensies and grabbing enough lums to reach gold trophy status means you’ll be searching high and low for every secret area you can find.
The quality of Legends’ level design never dips with every stage throwing a fresh idea your way. One moment you’ll be avoiding the light of surveillance enemies in a stealth like fashion, the next battling it out with a giant Mexican wrestler in one of the game’s many excellent boss battles.
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