Rayman's return has more than enough content, style, and challenge to reinvigorate the power of the 2D platformer genre.
Rayman might have his roots in the 3D platforming realm, but Ubisoft has designed Rayman Origins in a 2D plane. While this may sound like a step backwards for the series, Ubisoft has done everything in its power to make Rayman Origins one of the best games in its class. Rayman has the typical jumping and sprinting available from the start. Many of Rayman's other skills are locked at the start of the game, but as he progresses throughout the different levels, abilities like punching, diving, and gliding become available for use. These skills are far from complex, but they flow so incredibly well in the level design that even the most intricate chains of skills immediately become second nature. The levels take full advantage of Rayman's skillset, and while some of the acrobatics can feel a bit loose and slippery at times, they are remarkably well-implemented in the stages. Ubisoft hasn't missed a beat with the transition from three dimensions to two and Rayman Origins can easily hold its own among the platformer elite.
Each level holds many different things to find. Your typical stage has its share of platforms to jump upon and Lums to collect, the latter of which offer rewards for the collectible-happy. Hidden coins offer large amounts of Lums and Lum Kings offer brief periods where a typical Lum is double in value (reminiscent of the timed Red Coins found in Mario games). While these abilities aren't the most original, each stage's amount of them simply can't be ignored. It's very easy to get lost in the quirks and memorable moments that the stages offer, even so much as replaying the stages just to find every last Lum. Tracking down every secret corridor and making every massive leap is addictive to say the least. Rayman Origins isn't a revolution in its genre, but its refined quality and large amount of level design intricacies will no doubt keep players hooked.
Very much like another 2D platformer reboot in recent memory, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Rayman Origins shakes up the platforming with some extremely challenging diversions. Some stages let Rayman take control of an airborne mosquito for some side-scrolling shooter action, a nice diversion from the running and jumping of the other levels. Still, these sections are downright brutal and will test gamers' skills and patience in ways that the Rocketbarrel levels did in Donkey Kong Country Returns. Boss fights are rather slim in number, but continue to beef up the game with intense challenge and clever design. Giant squawking birds and monstrous sea creatures are only a couple of the behemoths that Rayman and crew will encounter in the boss field. There isn't a ton of variety in Rayman Origins, which may turn off some gamers, but the diversions are solid inclusions in an already enjoyable platformer.
Once each level is completed, there are still many, many things to accomplish. Each stage has its respective Medallion, an emblem composed of tasks to complete. General levels have three Cages to discover, with one being at the end of the stage and the others hidden deep within the levels. Also, Medallions require players to be diligent with their Lum collecting, as obtaining enough Lums will offer more challenges of the Medallion to be filled. Completing the Medallion also requires players to be fast at each level's remarkably difficult Time Trials. Extremely skilled players can earn trophies for being extra fast at the Time Trials, along with ribbons for finding a very high number of Lums in the stages. Aside from the levels themselves, tackling the incredibly challenging Skull Tooth missions will take up a good deal of gameplay time. Each Skull Tooth mission is a mad chase for a treasure chest with an insanely quick pace and barely any time to catch your breath. They are easily the most difficult portions of the game. Players who are after some laid-back multiplayer will find the cooperative play (reminiscent of New Super Mario Bros. Wii) to be a frantic delight as well. Rayman Origins is one of the most content-packed platformers available, always delivering plenty of refined challenges that never stop testing your skills.
Rayman Origins is gorgeous; there's no getting around that. The UbiArt team put their absolute all in designing the charming, hand-drawn aesthetic that envelopes every bit of Rayman Origins. The animations are expressive at every opportunity. Seeing Rayman and crew's wacky and cartoony reactions to an enemy attack or goofy skill are simply stunning to see. The environments are vibrant and have their shares of clever designs. From giant didgeridoos to shapeshifting forest caves, there are so many inventive and creative features throughout the worlds of Rayman Origins. The high-definition polish makes the animations even cleaner and the stages even more vibrant. The sound design is equally charming. The Pig-Latin voice acting is entertaining and keeps the characters' goofiness front and center, but the soundtrack's collection of diverse instrumentals and vocals are what truly set the stage. It's amazing that Rayman Origins can take the 3D world and make it even better in a 2D aesthetic. The presentation is hands-down the most impressive ever seen in a 360 platformer and sets the bar considerably high for other games in the genre.
Rayman Origins is a stylish platformer with undeniable charm, even when the minor control flaws and near-punishing difficulty rear their ugly heads. The levels are stunning to view, the animations are some of the smoothest and most expressive ever seen on the 360, and the music is catchy and memorable from start to finish. Even beyond that first impression, Rayman Origins reinforces the fundamentals of the 2D platformer with its own quirky and inventive design. It's a challenging game for sure, one that will more than likely frustrate a bit with its incessant habit of pushing you to your breaking point, but the rewardingly intricate missions will impress with each completion. Some of the controls feel a bit looser than one might like as well, but the levels generally flow with buttery-smooth motion. The entire Rayman Origins game is packed with so much enticing content that even after the end credits roll, you'll want to tackle every Time Trial, find every Lum, and reach out for those Skull Teeth. Rayman Origins brings the limbless hero back into the spotlight, focusing on rock-solid gameplay and a crazy presentation, no third dimension required. Don't let this gem of a platformer pass you by.