I recently had the pleasure of playing the second of the new platformer “Rayman” games that have been released in the last few years, “Rayman Legends”. If you are not familiar with these games, they feature super fun, yet challenging, platforming gameplay with unique character and location design, brought to life through beautifully colorful artwork. These two games are as much fun to play as they are to simply admire. But, while I thoroughly enjoyed the game that was released prior to this one, “Rayman Origins”, I did wonder to myself, is “Legends” just going to be more of the same? Are they going to be able to do anything to distinguish this game from the one that came before or will it be the same gameplay, just taking place in different locations?
The answers to those questions were a no, yes, no, respectively. I must say, I was really impressed that they managed to take something pretty similar to a game that came out just a year or two ago and make it fresh and new all over again. The artwork looks the same (as in, it’s just as breathtaking as it was in the last game) and the characters have the same moves, but they also managed to do so much more with this game than the last one.
For one thing, there is more to do in this game. There are tons of playable characters, most of which consist of different Teensies and versions of Rayman and Globox just like last time, but we also get ten princesses (butt-kicking princesses, though) to play as. While there is honestly not really much difference between the different playable characters, as they really do the same exact things with slight changes that are more aesthetic than anything, it was still fun having such a variety of characters to choose from. As for obtaining these playable characters, the princesses are unlocked by completing certain levels, while nearly everyone else is unlocked by collecting Lums (and will likely require more than one playthrough to get all of them, as I ended up with almost 500,000 Lums when I beat the game, with 500,000 more to go in order to unlock the last character).
And speaking of Lums, one way to get extra Lums is by collecting creatures that leave behind Lums every day, a new addition to the game. I find them rather silly, and they don’t really give you enough Lums to make a huge difference, but it’s something new. Creatures are obtained by scratching lucky tickets, which you get from collecting enough Lums in every level. Lucky tickets are a very fun new element added to this game, as each one gives you a chance to win a variety of things (and you always win something), such as creatures, as I just mentioned, Lums, Teensies (there are 700 to collect or rescue in this game), and “Rayman Origins” levels.
Yep, you heard me right, you can actually unlock “Rayman Origins” levels in this game. Now, don’t think you can just skip that game and play it all here in “Legends”, as this game only includes about half of the levels from “Rayman Origins” (and don’t worry, the terribly glitchy “Pirate’s Treasure” level was not included). While I find it a little odd to have about half this game’s levels come from the previous game, it was fun playing those levels again, and I suppose it’s a testament to how fun “Origins” was that I had so much fun playing through levels I had already done.
Aside from all these extras, I also think this game has a better variety in terms of locations than the previous game. While I love “Origins”, many of the levels in that game felt like just another jungle level or just another ocean level. I didn’t feel that way in this game, however. I think the worlds were not only more unique from what you’d see in other games (they actually have an entire world inspired by the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos; how often do you see that in a game?), but even within this game, each level felt unique and different from the other levels. I really think the levels in this game were more defined. By that, I mean that each level is not just another location to explore that, while looking a bit different, is really the same thing as what you’ve already done. I think each level has a clearer theme, and I really enjoyed that.
Now, while I loved nearly every aspect of this game, there are several highlights concerning new types of levels that I wanted to point out, the Murfy levels and the musical levels. Remember Murfy from “Rayman 2”? Well, while he did make a terribly obnoxious appearance (very much unlike the Murfy I remember from the previous game) in “Rayman 3”, he played a much smaller role in “Origins” (I honestly didn’t even remember him being in it until reading a wiki article on him). And so I was quite happy to see this little guy again in “Legends”, now with a much more helpful role. Murfy now appears in various levels throughout the game, and he can do all kinds of useful things. He can move things for you or cut ropes. He can slap enemies in the eye, which seems mean, but it has its uses, or he can tickle tough foes to make it easier to defeat them. In one level, he can even eat cake, which is a lot more useful than it sounds. I just loved these levels, and it could be quite fun controlling your character while also working with Murfy at the same time.
But, as much as I loved those levels, the music levels were even greater. There are six regular music levels, and the concept is simple, but ingenious. These levels require you to run through them while dealing with all kinds of dangers and obstacles, and the music is in sync with everything that’s happening. You know what, I can’t even properly describe just how great this really is, so check out the video below, of the first and best of all the musical levels in the game. (In case you couldn’t tell, the song is a version of “Black Betty”). This level was so fantastic, in fact, I even wrote a post about it on “United We Game”, if you want to check it out.
Video from Youtube user: GameKiller346
You see how great that was? I know. Awesome. And if you enjoy playing through the regular six musical levels in this game, they also have much harder 8-bit versions to try your luck on…. They are seriously cruel, but great.
Okay, and so that covers my main praises for the game. Now it’s time for just a little bit of complaining, though I seriously mean a little. I have a few very small problems with the game. One is I think it is less challenging than the previous game, which is good and bad. “Origins” could be ridiculously hard. Sometimes, it was just not fun how hard it was. “Legends” is easier, which is probably good overall, but I must admit, I was expecting more of a challenge from this game after playing the previous one. Some levels were indeed hard (especially the Invasion levels, which require you to get through within 40 seconds if you want to save all the Teensies, which can be quite an ordeal), but not as much so as “Origins”, leaving the game feeling a bit less satisfying to complete. But, at the same time, it was also much less frustrating, as well, which I suppose evens things out.
And my last little complaint is that “Legends” doesn’t feel as substantial as “Origins” (even though it took me a week longer to finish). Sure, it has more to do and probably about the same number of levels, but having essentially half the game come from “Origins” made it not feel as much of a solid, new game to me. Not quite. “Rayman Origins” had ten new worlds of levels, plus an extra hard level at the end. “Rayman Legends” has only five main worlds of actually new levels, plus a world consisting of harder versions of the music levels. It’s still a big game and will keep you busy for a good amount of time, but it just felt odd that about half the levels were ones I played before.
But, those are just slight complaints. This is truly a fantastic game, even better than its predecessor, and I enjoyed every minute of it. They really managed to improve on “Origins” with much more unique and varied levels and more things to do, as well. Maybe half the levels come from the previous game, but there are still plenty of new things to do, and the “Origins” levels were still quite fun to play over again. Not to mention the easier difficulty level might have disappointed me to a degree, but it likely also served to make the game more fun to play.
To be honest, I believe that aside from the old “Donkey Kong Country” games on the Super Nintendo, “Rayman Origins” and “Rayman Legends” are the best platformers I’ve ever played. And they are far superior to other platformers in terms of how fun and easy the characters are to control, with the variety of moves and the very easy to pull off wall jumps, not to mention the most convenient way in which they can hover, making it so much easier in this series to land tricky jumps than in games where you basically get one chance to land right or you die. And if you do miss a jump, the characters are great about grabbing ledges and sticking to walls so you can attempt to save yourself with a wall jump, allowing me to survive mistakes I would have never been able to live through in any other series. While I used to say I wanted to see another “Rayman” game that was more like “Rayman 2”, I now really look forward to seeing another platformer like “Legends”, and I very much hope that someday, other developers will learn a thing or two from these games and incorporate the beautiful controls featured in these games to other platformers. Ubisoft, I can’t even say how much you guys impress me.