Continuing my way ever so slowly through the 30 days of video game topics, we come to the game with the best graphics or art style. Though in recent times, I was thoroughly impressed with the graphics of Kingdom Hearts 3, which are easily some of the best I’ve ever seen, I wanted instead to discuss my favorite gaming art style instead, the honor of which goes to Rayman Origins and Legends. Continue reading Day 23: Game with the Best Graphics or Art Style
Time to share with you all the highlights from my next batch of Inktober drawings! You may have noticed that I am slowly getting better. My crosshatching has improved, plus I learned that large, bold areas of ink have a way of making a picture “pop”, so you’ll be seeing a bit more of that now. As usual, you can see every one of my Inktober pictures over on Deviant Art. Continue reading Inktober 2019 Highlights Week 2
After spending the last several hundred hours of my game time playing RPGs (no joke), I needed a break. The only games currently in my backlog at the moment are Final Fantasy IV and V, so I decided I would instead need to revisit something I had played before. Being in quite a Rayman mood after replaying Rayman Origins, I decided to connect the good, ol’ N64 and replay some of my old favorites, Rayman 2: The Great Escape and the Banjo-Kazooie games. (Obviously, Banjo-Kazooie in no way relates to Rayman, but I may as well play them while the console’s plugged in.)
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played this game, but I didn’t find it one bit less enjoyable than every time prior. I mean it, I had a great time with this game, and there is one thing that always struck me about this game that really makes it stand out from anything else I’ve ever played. The mystery. Continue reading The Great Mysteries of Rayman 2
Happy late Halloween, everyone! I had a pretty special one this year, and you might know why. First off, the night before Halloween was United We Game’s very first live stream on Youtube, where I spent about an hour playing the horrifying PC game, Five Nights at Freddy’s. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to check it out when it was live, I have provided the link below for you to view at your leisure if you so choose. Please do. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t officially start until about 8 minutes in when I start my spooky intro. The time before that is just testing. Continue reading A Ducky Halloween 2015: Fun With FNAF and Jano
In the past, I believe I posted a few, well, posts about some videos I had uploaded to Youtube, namely some gameplay videos of me screaming as I got pursued by Slender Man. Yeah. It was scary stuff. It’s also possible I posted about some readings I did of some of my fan fiction, but it’s possible I didn’t. If not, forget I said anything. Seriously, don’t watch those. They’re rather…not that good. Continue reading UWG Expands to Youtube
Today, I return to the 30 day game posts with day 8, the topic of which is the best video game soundtrack. I thought long and hard on this one, and I decided I’m going to cheat a little bit and choose two games that I think have the best soundtracks because they are so very similar. These games are the fantastic and unique “Rayman Origins” and “Rayman Legends”, two amazing sidescrollers that are not only a blast to play, but have wonderful soundtracks, as well. Now, as I’ve already written posts on my top songs from these games, I’m not going to focus on my favorite songs for this post, but you can check them out if you’d like, here and here.
What I am going to focus on in this post is another reason why I think these games’ soundtracks are so delightful, and that reason comes from how unique and varied they are. There is such a nice variety of songs in these games, and what stands out to me most of all is how different many of these songs are, as well. One thing that I am just so impressed about with these games is how Ubisoft is obviously not afraid to try new things, both in gameplay and in music, and I commend them for that. And while some of the music in this game can be rather odd, that’s what makes me love it so much. They have songs with whistling, songs with gibberish lyrics, and even a song where it sounds like a guy making noises like a frog. And so for this post, I wanted to share with you all some of these unique songs, some of which are in my top ten for each game, some of which are not, but there is one thing they all have in common, and that is the fact that they are all different. And so, without further ado, I have listed them below, in no particular order.
Remember the song I mentioned that I said sounds like a guy going ribbit like a frog? Well, I could not find a video with just the song, so instead I settled with a video that shows the gameplay for the level in “Rayman Legends” where this song takes place. You can hear it during the first 50 seconds or so. Weird, huh?
Video from Youtube User: SplitPlaythru
“Nowhere to Run” plays in the Land of the Livid Dead, and it is one of my favorite songs from “Rayman Origins”. It includes whistling and vocals, and even the undead chime in at one point. What’s not to love about such a song?
Video from Youtube User: Soniman001
“Lums of the Water” is from “Rayman Origins” and is a particular all-time favorite of mine. I find the vocals in this song to be absolutely adorable.
Video from Youtube User: Soniman001
“Fiesta de los Muertos” is an odd song from “Rayman Legends” that starts off sounding like people munching on crunchy food, but it really gets started around 0:50, and not long later, there are vocals and whistling, and I couldn’t help but find this song quite relaxing to listen to.
Video from Youtube User: Soniman001
And a particularly great song and a fitting grand finale for this post, Ubisoft’s version of “Black Betty” in the “Rayman Legends” level “Castle Rock”. Oh, how I’ve come to love songs with gibberish lyrics.
Video from Youtube User: Soniman001
And there you have some examples of the super different music found in these two games. Not only are they a lot of fun to listen to, but they are something you’ll be hard pressed to find in any other games. It is Ubisoft’s ingenuity in composing video game music that makes the “Rayman Origins” and “Rayman Legends” soundtracks my favorite ever. I just can’t wait to see what they do with the next game.
Fiesta de los Ducks
You may have read a post I wrote some time ago about my favorite songs from “Rayman Origins”, one game that has some of the best music I have ever heard. Seriously. And so I was quite excited when “Rayman Legends” came out, and while my standards were quite high due to the amazing music of its predecessor, I was not disappointed. This game has some great and unique songs, as well, and now I present you all with my top ten songs from this wonderful game, with links to Youtube.
10. “Dark Creature Pursuit” plays in levels where these terrifying creatures chase you, a perfect title and an even better song. I’m serious; this song is scary, especially when you’re being chased by the savage, little monsters referred to in the title. The song is fast and really raises your heart rate and blood pressure just by listening to it. I especially love the beginning section. So frightening…
9. “Laser level” is likely not the accurate name of this song, but it was all I could find, and it does indeed play in levels that often involve, well, lasers. This is a fast song that sounds kind of like an accordion to me and can only be described as…hyper. Not to mention awesome.
8. “Orchestral Chaos” is the second of the musical levels, levels where the gameplay is in sync with the music. This one, while not being my favorite of the musical levels, has my favorite music, a more classical style that I always enjoy. As this music is best experienced along with the gameplay that accompanies it, I included the video of this level, as well. Because I am kind.
Video from Youtube User: IGNGameplay
7. “Infernal Pursuit” is often played in faster-paced areas involving running from something or chasing after something, and the music fits quite well. I think it’s a rather pretty song, too. It sounds like a violin to me.
6. “Fiesta de los Muertos” is one of the stranger songs of the game, with the whistling parts and the vocals, but I find it strangely soothing. It takes a while to get started, but it gets much better at 0:48, once you get past the part that sounds rather like people eating crunchy food….
5. “Infinite Tower” is a super epic song that is a variation of the game’s main theme. It is…epic. Ridiculously so. Especially with the vocals that start around 1:44.
4. “20,000 Lums Under the Sea” is such a great song (once it gets started around 0:30) and takes place in some of the awesome spy-themed underwater levels (the best levels of the game). I love this song. It manages to sound rather glamorous and yet, mysterious, all at once. (And it strangely reminds me of some of the music from “Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time”, especially Vorselon’s ship…)
3. “Toad Story” is a super beautiful song that I think only plays once in the game. It is quite lovely, but also very sad. I enjoy listening to it, even though it depresses me.
2. “The Spy Who Kicked Me” is close to the song I wanted, but I couldn’t quite find the exact song that I really loved from the level, the “Mysterious Inflatable Island”, so I included the video for it below. I just love this song, and I loved this level, too, evading all the lights and trying not to get caught. Gah, why don’t they have a video of just the music! Why, cruel world!
Video from Youtube User: IGNGameplay
1. “Once Upon a Time” plays very early on in the game, and it is quite a fun song to listen to. It sounds very medieval.
The Duck Who Kicked Me
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.
Not long ago, I finished playing “Muramasa: The Demon Blade” after a two year break (I got a new XBox 360 halfway through and then was distracted by that and other various things for quite some time afterward). What I noticed first and foremost about this game when I found it at the store was the interesting art style and the rich colors on the front and back covers, which ended up being the main reason I decided to buy it (plus, the game store was having some kind of sale, so why not?). But, first, a summary of the game.
This game is a side-scrolling action game. Throughout the game, you collect or forge different swords, each with its own special skill, some of which can break different barriers that block your progress to various locations. Battles are fought with three of your swords, which you can switch between, preferably before your current sword breaks, and switching swords at the right time allows you to attack all enemies on-screen at once. The strategy involved in fighting in this game makes the battle system more interesting than simple button mashing (which is what I still largely did, though). The game is also composed of two stories, the story of Momohime (though, I don’t know if that is accurate, as she is possessed nearly the entire time) and the story of Kisuke, plus multiple secret endings. The stories and characters were fairly interesting, though they didn’t particularly appeal to me. It was other aspects of the game that made it stand out to me the most.
One aspect of the game I liked was that it takes place in Japan, and I enjoyed being able to play a game while also learning a bit about the country and its mythology. (The game is actually named after the famous Japanese sword smith, Muramasa, whose blades were rumored to not return to their sheaths until they “tasted blood”, if you will, even forcing the wielder to commit suicide if no other victim could be found.) I also encountered various monsters from Japanese folklore, like the Kappa, Tengu, and the most bizarre Kasa-obake, a strange umbrella monster that hops around on one foot. The game, while having dialogue written in English, is also spoken entirely in Japanese, which I also found interesting.
What distinguishes this game from others the most, though, is the style of artwork. This game has some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen. The backgrounds (and characters) are more in a 2D style, but the background is kind of layered in a way, so it gives a more 3D feel to it. The locations use such vibrant colors and are positively beautiful to behold, from a stormy ocean (with a cameo appearance of the famous woodblock print “The Great Wave of Kanagawa”) to snowy hills with a frozen river running off into the horizon, from mysterious forests to tranquil fields of wheat at sunset. This game mainly involves fighting enemies and traveling, and the traveling doesn’t get as boring as I think it would have otherwise because the scenery is so lovely to look at.
And this makes me think of other games that use beautiful art styles, like “Rayman Origins” and “Okami” (the latter of which uses more of the Japanese ink art style in its scenery and characters). These games, along with “Muramasa”, stand out from other games, not because their graphics are realistic, but because they are unique and beautiful. Sure, games like “Halo 4” and “Final Fantasy XIII” look amazing. But, now that technology has reached that point, we’re going to see a lot more games that look like that. It’s not going to be so novel anymore once most games look that good, and we have become used to it.
It is the games with the different styles that will stand out in terms of graphics and are the ones that will always be beautiful to look at, even after the excitement of nearly-realistic graphics wears off. It’s like the difference between a photo and a painting. A well-taken photo can be nice to look at, but for me, a beautiful painting is so much more interesting to look at. A painting can use a style and colors that brings out emotions that a photo can’t. A photo shows you what’s there. Yes, photographers can be artsy with lighting and angle, but paintings still can do things photos can’t.
So I have gotten a bit off-topic about this game. The game is a lot of fun, with a story and characters that are perfectly adequate (like I said, I didn’t get overly attached to these aspects, but they certainly weren’t bad). But, it was the art style that stood out to me the most. This game is an interactive piece of art, and it has one of the most beautiful art styles I have ever seen. (I noticed this when I bought it, and this initial impression only grew when I saw that it also has one of the loveliest manuals and disks the world has ever known.) So while this game is not among my list of favorites, it still will always stand out to me because of its stunning art style. That alone might be reason enough to check this game out so you can see its glory for yourself.
The Duck Blade