After starting off as a HD-download-only title, Rayman Origins suddenly transformed, quite majestically, into a bird with wings that could spread far and wide, resulting in the back-to-basics platform adventure for the limbless wonder appearing on all manner of formats instead, including even a recent outing on PlayStation Vita. At the tail end of last year, Cubed3 awarded the Wii edition a highly impressive 9/10 rating, citing it as the finest Rayman adventure yet. Quite how a scaled-down iteration on the Nintendo 3DS will hold up, though, is another question. Curious, Cubed3 took the newly released demo to see how it appears to be shaping up.
Having played both the PlayStation 3 and Wii versions, experiencing Rayman Origins in glorious high definition and regular format was not as painful as some would have you make out. Sure, the crispness of the graphics is lacking somewhat in the Wii iteration, yet Ubisoft did such a stellar job of pulling the right strings inside Wii hardware that the visual disparity did not hinder the enjoyment factor in the slightest. If anything, the control system seemed to fit a slight bit better on Wii, perhaps due to an over-familiarity with the 2D platform genre on Nintendo’s home console. Whatever the case, loading up the Nintendo 3DS demo led to two things happening -- a quick wipe of the screen to remove any smudges and a swift double-check to ensure the highest brightness setting was employed. Why? Well, it all looks rather ‘muddy’ and dark, to be honest. The upbeat soundtrack is still there with great aplomb, and the wonderful animation is intact, but someone seems to have turned down the lights and poured Vaseline over the shrunken-down graphics.
Mildly disappointing, but never one to let a lack of visual prowess hamper a truly delightful foray into the world of gaming -- and, after all, it still looks good, despite the blurrier-than-expected appearance -- the first of three stages was delved into. For those that have not touched any other version out there, Ubisoft has pieced together three varying styles of gameplay in this taster; Swinging Caves being a traditional left-to-right platform jaunt, Playing in the Shade showing off a twitch-reaction chase section, and Shooting Me Softly, well, try to guess!
It all starts off with the actual very first level from the full release, where players are given the chance to get to grips with Rayman’s detached punch and kick moves, charged fist shots, ground slamming, wall-jumping, and use an ear-spinning hovering technique, plus come to terms with how accurate each leap from ledge to floating chunk of land to swinging vine must be. Players are also introduced to the small yellow collectible items dotted around stages, with many appearing after hitting certain triggers, and even becoming more valuable red versions for a temporary period of time in certain circumstances. Anyone that loves standard platform romps, with a little extra discovery mixed in, will feel right at home. The second offering has Rayman chasing after a scarpering cauldron (yes, one with flailing legs…) through a treacherous silhouetted level that never stops moving, with all manner of agonisingly tough challenges that will leave players tearing their hair out, and most likely attempting to complete it hundreds of times just to make the perfect run.
Backtracking moderately on what was said earlier about the graphics for a moment, the added 3D effects in this Nintendo 3DS version of Rayman Origins work wonders, bringing a wonderful sense of depth to the surroundings, and the more of the game that is played, the more its inclusion offsets any initial qualms about the detriment to the visual crispness its smaller nature brought about. Rayman himself could have done with being made a tiny bit larger, maybe, although all signs point to this being as thoroughly enjoyable as the other editions on the market. Anyway, back to the final stage, this is sadly the weakest of the three, turning out to be a rather bland side-scrolling shooter effort that fails to mimic the addictive feel of true ‘shmups.’