People always consider me to be quite a cheerful guy, but man-o-man was I bummed out when I learned that Rayman Legends, the sequel to the spectacular Rayman Origins, was a Wii U exclusive. I’m quite a geek, so I own the majority of consoles out there – even a flippin’ CD-i and a couple of Atari Lynx-es! – but the Wii didn’t appeal to me in the slightest, and the revamped Wii U even less so. Thus, I was actually glad to hear that the Wii U wasn’t doing nearly as good as Nintendo anticipated, causing Rayman Legends to become multi-platform. And so, everybody can – and must! – enjoy this newest, glorious romp through Rayman latest adventure.
The story is still paper-thin, just like Origins, but it’s enough to get you going through hundreds of beautifully crafted, hand-painted levels. Seriously: if you thought Origins looked good, go to the nearest store and take this bad-boy home. It look stunningly good on your current-gen console and even better on PC and… Vita. Yes, this little handheld can dish out some serious visual damage to your retinas, looks even a tad sharper on your OLED screen and has a near-perfect framerate. It’s truly a sight to behold, as you platform your way through jungles, rotting fruit, dangerous waters and evil-looking chasms.
Each world concludes with the arbitrary boss fight, and these bouts to the death are brought to life extremely well by combining hand-painted backdrops with smoothly animated 3D dragons and other monstrosities. Especially the fight with a mechanical serpent stands out as a gorgeously designed highlight. Each boss battle is a bit too easy, but satisfying none the less.
When I think about it: the entire game is a bit on the easy side, with the exception of the final – optional – world. It’s a one-way ticket to the land of the livid dead once more, but this time the platforming plays more like a good Guitar Hero track: you’ll get chased by a wall of fiery death and have to jump and kick your way in perfect harmony with the music played in the background. Castle Rock? My favorite, and you’ll know why once you’ve played it: it’s so damn awesome that it makes me cheerfully happy.
Funnily: the bump in difficulty is not because of the frantic pacing, but by virtue of the screen constantly flipping out during gameplay: you’ll see levels through a fish eye camera, distorted with an old VCR filter or the screen will just flip 180 degrees on a whim. And when you die, it’s back to the starting point. It sounds a bit cooler than it actually is, sometimes dabbling a bit more in cheap-o-ville than I would have wanted, but completing a level after a couple of obnoxious hours grant you a feeling better than… waking up in the morning with coffee. Or putting on some fresh socks. Who doesn’t like fresh socks?
But alas, this Vita version is not the definite version of the game, held back by a couple of thingies a simple patch could iron-out. For starters, a couple of levels are missing, albeit Ubisoft said it’s addressing this for free in the future. This is not really a big deal, because this game is just bursting with content, and something I can forgive.
What’s not to be forgiven are the irritatingly stupid Murphy levels, in which you control said character – a green fly – with your finger. The main character is being controlled by a somewhat stumped AI, while you use your finger to cut ropes, dig your way through food and tickle enemies. These levels where originally intended to be played co-op on the Wii U, and it shows. I’m guessing they’ll be a bit better and more enjoyable on Ninty’s platform.
But the thing is: the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions do let you control the main guy, while button-prompts show up at the right time to let Murphy do his magic. A far better solution, because the Murphy-only stuff degrade Legends on Vita to a sorta iOS-kinda experience, ruining the premium feel of the rest of the package. And Vita’s screen is only 5 inches, so my fingers obscure a bit of the action…and, don’t even try to play this shit with the back-panel, because, well, the back-panel sucks in just about every Vita game. Legends ain’t no exception.
So, as it stand today, Legends is a formidable handheld game which look – and plays – exceptionally well and needs a good patch-job… who knows, maybe I’ll update the review in the future and award it with an even better score!
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