There were quite a few salty Wii U owners back in early 2013 when Ubisoft delayed the release of the then Wii U-exclusive platformer – partly because the game was originally intended as a launch title and now pushed back another 6 months, but mostly because it wasn’t so exclusive anymore. Given the woefully tiny userbase of Nintendo’s console, going multiplatform for Rayman Legends was indeed the smart decision, and this month we see this excellent game ported and released for two more machines, the shiny new PS4 and Xbox One. Now I just need a copy for my SNES and I’ll be set.
Seconds after booting it up, you’re reminded just how beautiful Legends is. That theme tune kicks in, which you know is going to be stuck in your head for the next week, and the game just begs you to play it. It’s difficult to resist. And you shouldn’t.
Minutes into the first level and you’re hooked. Honestly, we’re talking about a game that gives the likes of the New Super Mario Bros series a run for its money – it’s that good. The controls are tight, the level design is fantastic and graphical artwork is something to behold. And thanks to the user friendly controls (for the most part –more on that below) you can take it all in without focusing too hard on making that pixel perfect jump.
After finishing the opening level with a perfect score, I instantly wanted more. Just 15 or so minutes into playing the game and, despite playing it through on the Wii U previously, I knew I wouldn’t be getting up any time soon. Early on, Legends finds the perfect balance between giving you a fair challenge and then subsequently making you feel like the best gamer in the universe once you’ve finished.
Wait, where’s the touchscreen?
As good as the controls are when you’re commanding Rayman himself, something just didn’t feel right about the second level I played where you are introduced to Murfy. If you’ve never played Legends before, Murfy joins you during certain levels and helps you on your way by moving platforms, cutting ropes and slapping larger enemies to ease the road travelled. To be clear, this isn’t an optional helping hand, Murphy being on the screen is a core mechanic of the gameplay.
On the Wii U version, players use the touchscreen on the GamePad to control Murfy, clearing the path for Rayman who automatically runs his way through the level. On the Xbox One version, you must control Rayman as normal and Murfy moves from each interactive object to the next, and interacts with whatever he is hovering over with a push of the B button.
For the first time since re-playing Legends, I got frustrated. Controls did not feel natural and I had to think hard about what I was doing. Whilst I did start to get used to this way of playing after a few levels, it is very clear that the game was originally designed to be used with a touchscreen companion and Ubisoft have done the best that they can without completely changing the level design. Chances are, if you’ve never played the Wii U version before, you won’t notice anything “wrong” with these parts.
You might think that it would’ve been a good opportunity for Ubisoft to utilize either the Kinect or SmartGlass companion app as a substitute for Nintendo’s GamePad. Sadly neither of those control options are present.
Content, Content, Content
During the first few hours with the game, it is clear to see just how many levels, challenges and other random mini-games are included in this package. It may seem overwhelming at first, but you certainly can’t complain about a lack of content. You’re going to get a lot of game time out of Legends. As if the on-disc content wasn’t enough, weekly and daily challenges have been added by Ubisoft (albeit using existing levels) so that you can compete against your friends and get yourself recognized on the global leaderboards.
To draw yet another comparison to the New Super Mario Bros series – while content in Legends is vast – Ubisoft have done well not to rehash old level design by adding new theme-based levels as you progress through the game. Even in the first few hours of play, each level that you encounter feels very different from the last with its own challenges and nuances. Very few platformers can claim the same and Ubisoft should be commended for constantly trying to keep the game fresh. Make no bones about it, Legends does not pretend to be a Mario clone – it is distinct enough to stand alone. But to even be compared with the king of platforming should tell you how good this game is.
Despite occasionally feeling like a game designed for a different system, Legends shines in almost every major category. Graphically beautiful and musically masterful, two key elements for any 2D platformer are intact and coupled with incredibly tight jumping controls and expert level design. All considered, you know you’re onto a winner.
Rayman Legends is just gorgeous. It even outshines its previous-gen and Wii U siblings as it runs beautifully in crystal clear high definition. The game somehow manages to be even more colourful and the highly detailed backdrops really show how much effort has gone into making this game as easy on the eye as it is on the head.
Even during the first few hours of gameplay, the genius of this game is clear to see. If you’ve never played Legends before, this is an absolute must-buy. If you’ve got a Wii U however, I would find it hard to recommend this port over, what clearly is, the definitive version. But the chances are that you don’t own a Wii U and so you shouldn’t hesitate in picking up this game on next-gen platforms when it launches later this week.
Oh, and I was only semi-joking about the SNES version – I really do want a copy. Any chance, Ubi?
Technical Competency – 9/10
Graphical State/Sound Quality – 10/10
Network Stability – N/A
Overall – 9/10
Time played – ~5 hours