Where does the time go? It’s hard to believe sometimes that it’s been 18 years since Rayman first hit consoles and in that time there have been 11 versions of the strange creature with floating limbs leaping around our screens. So, what could Rayman Legends offer us that hasn’t already been included in the previous games?

Throwing the disc in my trusty Xbox, I realised that it’s probably been a good 5 years since I’d played a Rayman title and the one thing that always hooked me from the outset was the opening sequences. Rayman Legends is no different. The game opening is a little on the short side but perfectly paints a picture of what exactly is happening in Rayman’s world. Rayman, Globox and all the Teensies have been asleep for a whole century. During this time the Bubble Dreamer’s nightmares have grown in strength and Murfy is sent to wake Rayman and his friends so that they can save the day.

Rayman still looks as cartoon-crazy gorgeous as ever

Rayman still looks as cartoon-crazy gorgeous as ever

One thing I was pleased with, on first loading the game, was that the visuals have had a little tweak from the last game but they haven’t taken anything from the Rayman world style. It still looks as cartoon-crazy gorgeous as ever. You’re woken by Murfy, and Rayman is ready to ride again.

Your first mission is to rescue as many Teensies as you can, while keeping up the original’s criteria of collecting the Lums so that the world doesn’t fall into darkness. These Teensies seem to get themselves in all sorts of bother and you have 10 to find in each level. They’re not easy to find either in these labyrinthine levels. The levels are huge and packed with things to destroy, switches and hidden areas. The eight minor Teensies are available in the main level with the two major Teensies usually in the hidden bonus areas. Rescue as many Teensies as you can and you’ll unlock even more levels – there’s a phenomenal 120 levels to play.

Initially, there are three main worlds to play in, Teensies in Trouble, 20,000 Lums under the Sea and Fiesta de los Muertas and as you progress in those elusive rescues you can collect genius lucky scratchcards. Scratch these beauties off in your inventory for the chance to win extra Lums, collectible Rayman world animals and Rayman Origins level paintings. These level paintings allow you to play another 40 remastered levels from Rayman Origins, so in essence you are getting one and a quarter games here, a bargain surely.

It’s no real surprise that Ubisoft have revisited Rayman. They’ve had the time to polish and perfect the animation and gameplay over the last few years and this, despite me not having played a Rayman title in a while, feels like slipping onto a favourite bar stool . The graphics are superb and compliment the game’s feel perfectly. There are no annoying glitches, nothing to detract from the gameplay. The backgrounds and level themes are perfectly conceived for the Rayman universe. That universe is as bonkers as the Rabbids it spawned too, with armed toads and grumpy red owls among the many crazy obstacles and enemies that face our hero as he makes his way through each area, collecting the Teensies needed to unlock even more madness.

Collect enough and you’ll get the opportunity to run the gauntlet and rescue a princess, like Barbara, the barbarian. These characters are playable and each have their own specific features to use while running through the levels. I didn’t choose to play as any character other than Rayman, although this was a personal choice. So, you’ve played the majority of levels in a specific world, and you’re getting to that stage where you’ll know you’ll be facing the bad guy, now what? Well, mostly, it turns into a chase to rescue a Teensie. During this chase you have to avoid obstacles and still have to rescue the others, all while avoiding collapsing scenery, flying ghosts and fireballs, spikes and all manner of things designed to make Rayman pop in a comical fashion. The only disappointing thing about some of these boss chases, is that they don’t always end in a boss battle. I did find the Rock chase at the end of the first world a brilliant touch.

The sounds, as you’d expect, compliment the game very well indeed and why not seeing as Ubisoft have had so much time to perfect them? The toads croak menacingly, there are musical pelicans, skeleton pirates clicking their bones all set to an unobtrusive backing track that you hardly notice. Find a hidden bonus area and you’ll hear a comical ‘ooooh’ from the crowd, never failed to make me smile. There is the slightly annoying Murfy though.

Not all boss levels end in a battle

Not all boss levels end in a battle

Some levels need the assistance of Rayman’s slightly irritating friend. This is all well and good, but it’s really where things become a little on the tricky side. Murfy will fly to the nearest area that might need his input and you’re prompted to tap B to get him to perform that action. Be warned, though, some of his helpful antics aren’t quite as helpful as you’d imagine. He’ll cut ropes for example, that have Teensies dangling from them and if you’re not quick enough, they’ll inevitable fall to their doom. This is where the checkpoints come in very handy. I found that if I missed the Teensie and died, you might find this happens a lot, then you return to a checkpoint that will have the Teensie back in it’s place and you get another bite at the cherry. Conversely, this was very annoying if I managed to get the rescue done first time but a combination of the jump and Murfy’s ‘help’ is a tricky thing to remember. There are some levels that involve some fiendishly difficult button-combinations and timing. Needless to say, I got a bit frustrated at these sections but the sense of achievement you get from completing these is palpable.

There is a nice variety to the levels, flying levels see the return of Bzzit the mosquito and you’ll get the opportunity to fire Rayman fists at your opponents with a portable canon given to you by a mysterious wizard. There is a different slant on a flying section too, with updrafts allowing you to use Rayman’s ability to float to actually gain height and move through the levels, avoiding the falling and clashing masonry and performing rescues at the same time.

Ubisoft have built upon the success of Rayman Origins and certainly delivered another great game

Ubisoft have built upon the success of Rayman Origins and certainly delivered another great game

Taking all of this into consideration, it’s not to say that this game is perfect, it’s not. I found it frustrating that button presses were missed, particularly the jumps and Murfy’s help. This leads to sections of particular levels, where rapid button presses are required, being repeated over again due to the character not jumping, or the jump being mistimed and Rayman dying. The jump timings where a constant source of frustration too. There are some areas where it has to be just right, or you’ll miss what you’re going for, whether that’s a rescue or a ledge or a vine, miss and you’ll be heading back to try again, or in the case of the run or die levels, you’ll be tearing your fingernails out in rage. Another thing I found most confusing was the inventory in between levels. If you win on one of the Lucky scratchcards, you get the opportunity to go and visit what you’ve won. This takes you immediately there and I inevitably wondered where in the game menus this had taken me. A quick trip to the exit on the left though and you’re back in the main area.

So I started off by asking what Rayman Legends can offer us over the last versions and that is best answered by saying a lot. The graphics are a little better, there’s more of the same manic platforming gameplay and despite a few controller niggles Ubisoft are sure to have another character winner in Rayman Legends, almost a rebirth of the character and that’s a good thing. Not forgetting that there are also 40 remastered levels from Origins to play and weekly challenges for those of a mind to gain extra Lums, and a minor football based sidegame that you can play with your friends, Rayman Legends might not reach legendary status but it will sure come close. Ubisoft have a cartoon platforming masterclass to give and you’re all instructed to attend.

About The Author

Indie Editor

A midlander, exiled to the South Coast. I once finished Gremlin's "Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge" & I have the certificate to prove it.