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'Rayman Origins' imply-say erfect-pay

Dec 12, 2011

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Rayman OriginsRayman creator Michel Ancel deserves a hearty thank you - heck, he deserves a slap on the back and a giant hug - for his latest creation, Rayman Origins.

At its core, this is pure, unadulterated gaming fun, plain and simple. Rayman Origins doesn't worry itself with online leaderboards, social media integration, achievements that require dozens of hours of grinding to complete, or constant patches that fix glitches.

This is old-school platforming at its absolute finest. Granted, you've probably heard that countless times in the last few years. There's been a glut of platformers released, with many aiming to tug at the memory of aging players who want to relive their early gaming years, but this is the honest-to-goodness truth. To gush just a little bit more, Rayman Origins is something truly special.

The game takes Rayman on a journey across several worlds throughout the Glade of Dreams. It seems Rayman and his friends have been snoring and playing their music a little too loudly, and this has left the nasties from the nearby Land of the Livid Dead thoroughly T-O'ed.

It's up to Rayman (and as many as three co-op partners) to repel the bad guys and restore peace, happiness and awesome daytime naps to the Glade of Dreams.

Rayman Origins To do that, Rayman has to jump, swim, climb, fly and hip-thrust his way through several levels. The mechanics have all been done before, and the objectives (collect lots of stuff!) are nothing less than recycled, but the presentation these things are wrapped up in is what makes this game such a joy.

From the first moments of the opening stage, the level design proves nothing less than jaw-dropping. Set in a vibrant, colourful 2D world that's teeming with life, players control Rayman as he alters the very landscape he's traversing by hitting switches to move mountains - literally.

Enemies can be "bubblized" (killed) by simply jumping on them or by pulling off one of several basic attacks, including a punch that would make Bugs Bunny envious. Often though, it's the enemies themselves that are the least of your worries. The environments are full of traps that you have to watch out for, whether it's a clawed arm waiting to grab you after you fall into a murky pond, or spiked birds that would love nothing more than to ram into you as you hover high in the sky. And I'll just let you experience the evil fruit for yourself.

As you make your way through each level collecting enough Electoons to open new stages, it will be nigh impossible to stop yourself from humming along to the music. Some of these songs sound like they were written at the height of the 70's psychedelic era and were sung backward by a Swedish version of the Lullaby League. As ridiculous as that sounds, it works. In fact, it makes for some of the best video game music in years.

Rayman Origins Anyone who remembers platformers from the 1990's knows just how challenging they could be, and Rayman Origins delivers this in spades, albeit not immediately. The first four worlds you play through are pretty much a cakewalk. It's a chance to unlock abilities that include attacking and hovering, all while admiring the hilarity and craziness unfolding all around you.

After you've conquered these initial worlds, several more open up and it's here that players will be tested over, and over, and over again. And then some more.

Traps become viciously tricky and every level is treacherous almost from beginning to end. The thing is, the game is never unfair, and once you've figured out how to get around a particularly troublesome section, there is that wonderful sense of accomplishment that rarely rears its head in games today.

Still, there's just so much more to like about Rayman Origins. The boss battles should satisfy anyone who relished taking on Bowser or any of Dr. Wily's creations growing up, and the humour will cause genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Despite being completely appalled by a character that would gyrate on a giant tube at the end of each level as it filled with captured treasures, I couldn't help but laugh every time I saw it. Things became even more hilarious when I would fill the tube and Rayman would start disco dancing on the spot.

Rayman Origins The whole "capture the princess" thing is also done in Rayman Origins, but even this is treated slightly differently. Instead of finding a princess with an utterly unrealistic Barbie doll figure like in almost every game ever made, Rayman instead frees a group of "Bodacious Nymphs" with bodies you'd actually see in real life.

Although the campaign is fairly meaty, there's still plenty of replay value - just so long as you're somewhat of a completionist. Each level contains up to six Electoons that can be acquired in different ways, including unlocking them from cages (some of which are quite well-hidden) or by collecting hundreds of Lums (kind of like gold coins from the Mario games).

It's not too difficult getting two or three Electoons in each level, but you'll have to have excellent reflexes, a  sharp eye, and a keen ear to collect them all.

Most stages also have speed trials, which challenge you to sprint through the whole thing in a short amount of time. Completing these comes with, once again, a great sense of accomplishment, as well as an extra Electoon to boot.

Rayman Origins Some may complain that the lack of online co-op is a disappointment, but not once did I feel like I really wanted to message a friend to play Rayman Origins online. I was having an absolute blast on my own, so to online capabilities I say "phooey."

Try as I might, I can't think of a single significant problem with Rayman Origins. If there were ever a game that did everything in its power to make you smile, this is it. With this title, forget about achievements and motion controls and uber-macho characters we've seen hundreds of times. Just play it, and let the joy wash over you.

 

Rayman Origins
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone 10+
Official Site: http://raymanorigins.us.ubi.com/

Rating: 10 / 10

 
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