Sidescrolling platformers are a very simple genre. Still, the fact that simplicity is such an integral part of those games does not mean producing a great one is an easy task. On the contrary, it is one awfully hard task. Games like that possess such a small scope and limited design options that one tiny stumble can be the difference between utterly remarkable and easily forgettable. Therefore, their development requires high sensitivity to push the players' right buttons and a complete understanding of what makes games fun in the first place. Rayman Legends is the ultimate unquestionable proof that Michel Ancel and his team are masters of game development.
It does not simply trump its predecessor, it climbs to a very sacred pantheon where the likes of Donkey Kong Country 2, Super Mario World, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 inhabit. A place reserved to those that have transcended greatness and reached some sort of gaming nirvana. How does it achieve that feat? For starters, where Rayman Origins introduced new abilities little by little, Rayman Legends goes all out from the very beginning. There is no slow introductory start. It is platforming madness from the get go, as Rayman hovers, swims, jumps, and navigates through levels that are so ridiculously brilliant and occasionally frantic that you will have to catch your breath and say wow after each one of them.
What is most impressive, is how flexible the level design is. Musical levels have Rayman madly running and going through obstacles that need rhythmical button presses to be overcome, Invasion levels are a mad race against time, boss battles are situated at the end of combat focused levels (which while an outrageous concept for a platformer, work quite well here) and more traditional stages never fail to bring in some wacky new mechanic. And all that goes without mentioning the fun and challenging daily and weekly challenges that also present very unique stage setups that beg to be played over and over again as you watch your score climb up the fantastically designed leaderboards.
Not content with blowing minds every second, Rayman Legends is also a Wii U landmark, as it fully integrates the Gamepad creatively with on-screen gameplay on dozens of Murphy levels where the flying green creature must, through touch commands, clear obstacles to aid an inept Globox reach the end of the stage. In a sign that it is fully aware of its artistic prowesses, Rayman Legends uses an art gallery as its hub, presenting stages as gorgeous-looking paintings hanging on the walls. And an art gallery is exactly where the game should be displayed, because its use of colors and animation is flooring. It is a colorful riot whose rough and reckless attitude is perfectly conveyed on its lines, and backed up by its aggressive gameplay.