LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.
After playing Ubisoft’s Rayman: Origins, I can’t help but think Nintendo have fallen behind in the 2D platforming game. Rayman: Origins provided everything I wanted from the New Super Mario Bros. line of games. It was challenging, gorgeous and provided a lot of nuance with its core mechanics.
I never played a proper Rayman game before (I finished and loved the iOS release though). I caught glimpses of its predecessors but I was never drawn to those early games. If it was not for my disappointment with Nintendo’s recent lackluster offerings and the attractive price tag of $9.99, I wouldn’t have given Rayman: Origins a glance. Thankfully things came to pass and I pulled the trigger.
If Rayman: Origins presentation doesn’t catch your attention then I guess you have no soul. It is beautiful on a 55″ HDTV. It’s bursting with colors and tossing out all sorts of zany animations that remind me of the 16-bit days when exaggerated expressions were more important than the number of polygons rendered on screen.
I don’t try to understand what was going on screen though. I can only assume it is the imagination of a person on drugs brought into game form. Our limbless hero, Rayman, was rescuing tiny pink balls with pony tails and spent a lot of time collecting yellow creatures named “Lums”. I had no idea what was going on but it didn’t matter because all the incongruousness somehow worked out.
I loved how Rayman was given so many abilities. He was able to leap off and run on walls. He was able to float. He could punch his foes on the ground or jump kick them in midair. There was even a spin attack, ground pound and even an air dash under the right circumstances. He had so many options and I had to use them all with regularity.
After playing Rayman: Origins I now realize why I’m not a fan of New Super Mario Bros. Rayman: Origins layered its difficulty and did so with different tests of skill. If I wanted to reach the end of a level, I could with minimal to moderate resistance. If I wanted to collect all the “Electoons”, Trophies and Badges I had to demonstrate mastery in speed, agility and a eye for hidden treasures. Nintendo’s recent side scrolling offerings were not as forthcoming with those challenges. They didn’t put the skills I’ve picked up along the way to the test. And it wasn’t like these ideas are foreign to Nintendo; look no further than Super Mario Galaxy and its approach.
I was consistently wowed by what Rayman: Origins showcased across its ten worlds. There were levels where Rayman’s actions contributed to the music. There were boss fights that took place inside a giant monster. There were even moments where Rayman was riding a giant pink insect that shoots laser bolts.
I wish I could say it was all original concepts from beginning to end but like Super Mario Galaxy there were a handful of repeat concepts. By the half way point, I was tired of the side scrolling shooting levels. I think they could have done just fine with half of the amount.
Rayman: Origins fills a void Nintendo once occupied. Ubisoft proved that 2-D platformers without the words “Super Mario” in the title have a lot to offer. Without the bounds of long legacy, they were free to do whatever they wanted no matter how bizarre it may appear. It looks, sounds and plays like an instant classic and could very well be someone’s Super Mario World. It’s that good.
For more information on Rayman: Origins visit the official website.