Much has been said about Rayman Origins, it has been one of those games that although fantastically reviewed and well received across the board it failed to set the charts alight. Our very own Harry Bandell described is at a delight, so given the opportunity to play through it having missed the bandwagon first time around was exciting to say the least. Now, Rayman has moved from the confinements of the home console and onto the latest portable handheld, the Playstation Vita. It is handheld enjoyment or simply one to be left at home?
Rayman Origins is simple, as the title suggests. A shallow almost nonexistent story layered with worlds and stages, each one more inventive and sometimes more challenging than the last. It’s very bare bones, stripped back to the bare essentials. It may seem weird to go back to games where the objectives are as simple as navigating a level whilst collecting ‘Lums’ (the games version of gold coins), but it is a joy, wonderful in fact. It has been such a long time since I have truly smiled and enjoyed a game that has shot equal amounts of fury and pleasure my way. It is a truly joyful experience throughout, that has mixed equal parts of cute and quirky alongside its platforming elements. Familiar though it is, borrowing all the best parts of platformers before it, Origins blends its French roots, making it something unique.
It’s good to see that even in a market saturated with spin-offs, sequels, remakes and the like, that a game with this much care and attention to detail can still surface. Each frame of the game is like a painting, crafted with vibrant colours and caressing brush strokes. Yes this is all helped by the Vita’s new OLED screen, but I spent many moments gawping at its wonderful looks that it led me to scuttle of the edge of many a precipice to my death. It’s a great showcase for what the Vita is capable of, just as gorgeous as it looks on its console counterpart, yet the nature of its play, lends neatly to the pick-up-and-play of the handheld.
Each world can be enjoyed in bite size broken up into many smaller stages within. Ranging from the standard platforming levels, to some R-Type-esque Mosquito riding and even some perfectly executed boss battles. These are all topped with excellent chase levels, where you are hurtled at break neck speed through collapsing levels trying to catch a treasure chest. These moments are at times anger inducing, taking numerous attempts to learn the lay of the land, but in the end they are ultimately satisfying.
Having spoken so highly of its looks it’s great to see that Origins is matched and then some in the audio department. Rayman is as much about its visuals as it is about its music. Each piece crafted with the love and care given to a symphony. Feeling familiar, echoes of Mario and Zelda can be heard, yet still sounding fun and light hearted. Enemies screech with comedic gusto when trampled on, platforms whimper with human nature when jumped on and the levels with musical elements such as keyboards are a pure delight.
The Vita version of Rayman Origins is very similar to the console version, but the addition of some touch controls can make the game that little bit more enjoyable. The ability to using the touch screen whilst traversing a level means that little extra bit of concentration is needed in tight situations. The necessity to collect each and every Lum and ‘Electoon’ is almost too much to bear. This is a title with collecting at its core and its controls have been crafted around this. They are intuitive and easy to pick up and the Vita system seems a perfect companion for this.
Yes, you could whizz through Rayman in less than ten hours, but why rush? Origins has so much to offer that it begs to be played. It’s a joyous, cute, wonderfully made and simple game that had me missing train stops more times than I care to mention. It may seem a tad nostaligic, but returning to simpler times where collecting and jumping on enemy heads were the order of the day was a treat. If you missed this first time around, then I highly recommend picking this up, it made me smile and was thoroughly entertaining. If you already have it, then why not dig it out again. Rayman Origins is a subtle nudge to the platformers of old showing us that 2D scrolling can still be fun and enjoyable. It is essentially flawless, all in all what more could you possibly want from a game?