Rayman: Legends PS Vita Review

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Here we are, the beginning of another game review, and I have a confession. The only Rayman game I’ve played prior to Legends was…Raving Rabbids on the Wii. Eeek, I feel a lot better with that out of the way. It will also explain, up front, why I’m not referencing the previous games throughout. One thing I did know on my way into Rayman Legends was that it was created using the impressive UbiArt Framework. Which results in highly detailed and functional hand drawn/painted assets coming to life before your eyes.

Being the PS Vita version, Rayman Legends did a fabulous job of utilizing the touch screen and offered nearly endless puzzle platoforming amusement. Legends seemed to be the culmination of all the things I love about the 2D platformer with expertly integrated touch mechanics to boot. Characters and even levels spanning the mythos of the Rayman universe were peppered throughout, thus presenting wonderfully varied and abundant gameplay styles.

The 2D puzzle platformer is undeniably my wheelhouse. There’s something about innovation on the 2D plane that speaks to me; and Rayman Legends does just that. As I said prior, I can only speak to the PS Vita incarnation of the game, and there’s definitely enough unique utilization of the touch screen to warrant the word innovation. Rayman Legends is undoubtedly best played as a cooperative experience, but I didn’t have that luxury as I was traveling while playing. That being said, the Vita version of the game rectified some of the complaints I’ve seen surface on other platforms. Taking over as Murfy and guiding Globox through hostile territory was as easy as tapping the screen. After initiating control you’re able to bend environmental elements to your will, and help defeat more formidable enemies. This leads to interesting puzzle scenarios in which you’ll need to rotate the game world, deter enemy attacks, assist in collecting items, and even moving objects to make platforming possible. The combat in Legends is very simplistic, but there wouldn’t be any room, or need, for a more extensive system. Avoiding enemy attacks and traversing unfriendly situations while rescuing Teensies becomes a welcome exercise in multitasking. There’s an entire cast of characters to choose from including Rayman, Globox, as well as Barbara and a host of her sisters. Each character has the same base movements, but they’re varied enough to make each feel specific while playing. There’s even a selection of themed levels wherein your actions produce the beats and lyrics of well known songs like Black Betty. Boss battles always tend to require something a bit different as far as strategy, none of which are frustrating or unbalanced. There’s plenty to love here.

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The artwork of Rayman Legends is as comprehensive as it is practical, no doubt thanks to the UbiArt Framework mentioned earlier. character models, environments, and animations are all beautifully rendered, making the act of playing Legends constantly gratifying. The color palette is as vibrant as one could ask for, and the lighting Ubisoft Montpellier was able to inject into Legends did nothing but compliment the exhaustive work that went into the visuals. There’s a myriad of different settings in which Legends takes place. You’ll visit lush jungles, barren deserts, Rapture inspired underwater levels, and many more. Graphics are light hearted and fun and they still managed to resonate with a grown man(child). Even with the cartoon aesthetic, I believe Rayman Legends is one of the best looking games we’ve seen in 2013.

The game picks up after Rayman and co. have been sleeping for a century. While they’ve been enjoying their hundred year slumber the Bubble Dreamer has been concocting all sorts of nasty nighmares, and they’ve been gaining strength, and so has the magician. The ten princesses (including Barbara) and the teensies have been captured by the nightmares and five dark teensies. It’s up to Rayman, Globox, and Murfy to rescue the whole lot and defeat the nightmares. The minimal story line is reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. and other retro platformer titles. Story depth isn’t necessary in this type of game unless it becomes detrimental to the core experience without it. Rayman Legends sets the tone and theme early on and lets the gameplay do the talking.

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At the end of the day, Rayman Legends is an absolute treat to the senses. The Vita version takes full advantage of the gorgeous OLED screen and touch controls. The playful soundtrack meaningfully adds to the picturesque surroundings and characters, and the gameplay is some of the best I’ve ever seen in the 2D platformer space. Rayman Legends is one of the Vita’s killer apps of 2013.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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