Rayman Legends: Side-Scrolling Mayhem

The release date of Rayman Legends is a tale full of dramatic twists that would probably put a soap opera to shame. But it seems the worst is over with a concrete release date of merely weeks away. Will this extra time result in a product that is a worthy sequel to the highly praised Rayman Origins?

It’s not a secret that Europeans love football and Ubisoft is certainly aware of this fact. Perhaps that’s why it decided to add a mini-game similar to football within the upcoming Rayman Legends. The infamous Kung Foot is perhaps one of the best ideas we’ve seen implemented in a video-game for some time.

At its most basic, Kung Foot may seem like just another mini-game. However, this is a Rayman video-game and nothing is ever ordinary when it comes to this little limbless guy. As expected, Kung Foot splits you into two teams. Each team must attempt to keep the ball from entering the net. Sound familiar?

But what’s so great about this concept is how flexible it is. There are no rules that dictate the role each player must take. Anyone can become the goal keeper and then decide to kick the ball if it comes to that. This makes for a less serious take on the football genre and one that is far more accessible to players that don’t particularly have an interest in the sport.

The ball itself isn’t normal either and will surprise first time players. It will become faster with every kick until it literally bounces around the field like an out of control asteroid. This usually provides clever players with a chance to quickly get the ball in the net by taking advantage of its ever increasing speed. The ball will reset to normal pace once it has reached its climactic speed and the whole thing starts again.

It gets increasingly out of control when playing Kung Foot with lots of other players, especially as the main objective is to try and win as many points as possible within a few minutes. There is even the possibility to engage in sneaky tactics by distracting opponents so that they are not able to play as well. If the rest of the mini-games in Rayman Legends are like this then players are in for a treat. What is important is that it works just as well on Xbox 360 as it does on the Wii U.

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It’s only natural that the Wii U version is the one with more unique features. The GamePad is used in a manner that makes it an essential part of the experience. Normally, players control Rayman by using the button inputs on the GamePad. But making use of the touch screen will automatically give the player control of a flying creature called Murphy.

Murphy can clear obstacles like a wall of spikes or even put out balls of fire. It’s all very intuitive as the player is asked to perform simple motions such as a swipe to cut a rope. It’s always surprising to see just how quickly any input on the GamePad’s touch screen immediately results in changes on the TV screen.

It’s not just the touch screen that gets used throughout the levels. There are various sections where Murphy can rotate the level by making use of the GamePad’s gyroscope. One of the more interesting uses for this was a puzzle which sees the player in control of the GamePad and they had to rotate it so other characters could walk through a maze without being killed by spikes. There are many wonderful ways to make use of the creature’s GamePad abilities.

It’s an unusual approach to the platform genre, but one that works really well when put to action. It also means that when playing with more than one player(others play traditionally with Wii remotes) the player controlling Murphy doesn’t feel left out. In fact, anyone in charge of the GamePad is in for a challenge as it is up to this person to clear the path for everyone else. It’s interesting to think that even playing solo will require the use of the GamePad’s flying creature, since the obstacles it can clear will still be there.

On the Xbox 360, it’s not possible to directly manipulate Murphy but he was seen in one level. His purpose was to clear up the path so the characters could get through. All that was required was for players to to press the B button in order to make it through a slice of cake. However, it’s actually not that simple. It’s necessary to press the button at the right time, so the flying creature can then munch its way through the section that will make it possible to progress.

This got more complicated towards the end of the level where it was necessary to carefully see its flight plan to know when to press the munching button.

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The last section of the level prompted players to use the creature to clear the path whilst the characters were dropping down a hole filled with spikes. It proved difficult to get through but it’s also reassuring to see that each level will possibly include different challenges like this.

Another level on the Wii U was a running challenge. Players had to use the boost button to try and quickly get to the finishing line. It was absolute mayhem with more than one player and it resulted in many deaths. But what matters is that it was still enjoyable. Not too many developers try to engage the player by continuing to offer different ways to push their skills.

It’s not always easy to keep up when playing with more than one player. One player could wander off ahead far more quickly than others. It resulted in a few deaths because of bottomless pits or other obstacles. Fortunately a player can still revive another player’s character by slapping the bloated character that has been hit. It’s also difficult to keep up with the camera during moments where the level is moving automatically.

These are all minor issues that were easily overcome by playing such sections a few times. It’s also necessary to say that it became easier to play through a level once a team starts to communicate and ensures that no one is left behind.

There’s certainly more diversity when it comes to the environments used. It’s clear that the developers wanted to create memorable worlds with the likes of candy and other vibrant objects found in them.

It’s clear that Ubisoft have dedicated a lot of resources to ensuring that the sequel to Rayman Origins is an even bigger success. It makes great use of the various hardware it’s being released on without compromising quality. If the rest of Rayman Legends is anything like what i’ve already played then Ubisoft surely have a Summer hit that everyone can enjoy.