Ignore the fact that he is a French hero, with no limbs, questionable hair and an odd outlook on life; Rayman should be in the gaming pantheon along with Sonic, Mario and, begrudgingly admitted, Crash Bandicoot as the masters of enjoyable platforming. Rayman’s new old school foray into platform gaming is the first traditional 2D game in a long time, thankfully avoiding the ‘Raving Rabbids’ that have currently been the main focus of the games marketing. It is completely zany and off the wall to an extreme and gives your retinas a reawakening to colours that don’t figure on the ‘grey-grunge’ spectrum of shoot-em-ups currently out on the market.
Rayman Origins requires you to suspend your disbelief when it introduces you to the storyline. Essentially Rayman and his band of loonies are relaxing in their home of the Glade of Dreams and his best friend, Globox, begins to snore too loud. This irritates the Darklings under the Glade they live in, leading them to invade the overworld and bang up Rayman and his buddies. Puts into perspective the Call of Duty games when it comes to peculiar reasons to push forward a story doesn’t it? Rayman then has to save his home and restore everything back to normal. Story is not the main drive to play this game but the pure joy of simple and addictive platforming.
You are challenged across various standard world (underwater, ice, desert, jungle etc) with or without the help of three other local players, a long and forgotten tradition that is woefully underrated in multiplayer terms today. Levels vary from races against treasure chests (they run away as they are genuinely afraid of Rayman beating them over the head with his fist, shown in little dream bubbles within the game) to alongside more original Rayman gameplay. The environments and art style are the biggest draw for this game in my opinion, with its art direction absolutely beautiful, even if it does bring to mind a stoners interpretation of the real world.
Rayman: Origins has the same type of levelling up system that most adventure games have with each world heralding a new power, such as being able to float or run up walls, all given by strangely well endowed fairies (there actually is a search on google for ‘rayman origins fairy hot’, I was looking for pictures for the blog, honest!)
The game never punishes you too heavily for screwing up checkpoints placed after leaving each sector of each level rather than a typical life system as seen in Mario or the ring system used in Sonic. By no means does this make it easy, with anyone whom wants to see what the whole game has to offer will almost certainly grab and complete every collectible that is there.
Nostalgia is often the biggest base for gaming sequels. My generation was the N64/Psone era where Ocarina of Time and Goldeneye ruled the roost and I have fond memories of Diddy Kong Racing and Banjo Kazooie which I would put down my first proper gaming experiences. I also had an old PC lurking in with the first Rayman on and Rayman Origins pushes all of those buttons and more. I cannot stress how good this game is, especially if you can get four people huddled around a console at the same time. Its certainly dead cheap at the moment as well, around £12 on most good online retailers. With rather disappointing sales of the game according to Ubisoft, which frankly was always going to struggle against other more established titles such as the AC franchise, you owe it to yourselves to pick it up and hopefully promote a bit of wacky originality in an otherwise sea of grey.