The game's predecessor Rayman Origins revolved around a sublime co-operative feature, and this time round Ubisoft has taken what works and amplified it -- up to five players can now embark on the sequel, with one acting as an interactive aid using the Wii U GamePad. In the E3 demo one of the players acted as an assist/helper, using the touch screen to help Rayman overcome some otherwise near-impossible obstacles. The other took on the role of the limbless hero himself, traversing levels and solving puzzles alongside an adorable new character known as Murfy - a floating, frog-esque creature.
Initially there was some scepticism as to how much support there would be, and if the GamePad player would be relegated to a simply collector, akin to Super Mario Galaxy's co-operative play. Fortunately this feature has been built from the ground-up with the Wii U especially in mind, and the secondary player becomes just as involved as Rayman to reach the finish together; there is plenty of variety to keep the pace interesting.
In the opening seconds a sense of smart gameplay design was gathered, with Murfy being used to cut through grass, grab hold of enemies and unravel secret areas using the touch screen. It was all very immediate and responsive. As the eponymous hero battled on, so did the puzzle sequences; at one point the GamePad's gyroscopes were used to rotate a giant spike-ridden wheel to allow Rayman to pass, in another boulders were being flung at unforgiving fire-breathing dragons to pave the way to safety. It was all surprisingly intense and exhilarating, translating onto the TV screen without latency, making the whole setup deliciously satisfying.
Murfy could also be used to unravel hidden rooms that allowed for harder, but rewarding, collaborative puzzles -- one being an inaccessible area to Rayman, packed to the brim with pink fluffies that would be flung over using the stylus in rapid-fire fashion and the other player would jump about to collect as many as possible within the time limit. I ultimately failed (Note: myself and former Cubed3 staff member Mike Mason succeeded! - Adam), but even this simple concept made teamwork more intuitive than previously seen in similar games, and certainly something that could not be done quite as well without the use of the GamePad.
- Jorge Baoh, Managing Director.
Coming off the back of the slightly muddy looking, yet still highly impressive, Nintendo 3DS port of Rayman Origins, it was an immediate shock to the eyes when viewing the beautifully animated, superbly bright and colourful, and intricately detailed introductory sequence, all delivered in stunningly crisp high definition. The Wii version of Rayman Legends’ predecessor worked perfectly well without HD, but clearly its inclusion for this currently exclusive Wii U platform outing for the French loose-limbed character from the mind of Michel Ancel is a welcomed addition on the already remarkable presentation front.
The camera continued to wind its way deeper and deeper into the jungle, passing by all manner of evil minions, busily concocting nefarious plots. Finally, the scene ceased, with the camera settling into its main position, giving a clear view of the 2D side-scrolling action about to take place. Rayman controls just as he has done for the past 17 years, with a simple jump, second jump to trigger his helicopter-hover mode, and the loose-limbed punching and kicking combinations. Personally, having always adored Plok so much, and knowing that it came out long before Michel Ancel conceived the remarkably similar character, I bear somewhat of a grudge against the Rayman games, especially since none of them ever matched the quality of the Pickford Brothers’ masterpiece on the Super Nintendo. Saying that, last year’s Rayman Origins was a surprisingly robust reboot that dragged the series back from the brink. It still lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, though. Rayman Legends looks to have dispelled any lingering issues, with it starting strong and growing in potency the further the player progresses.
Swinging from vines, leaping up onto platforms created by the second player, wall-jumping to rescue people from mid-air cages, and beating through hordes of witch-looking characters -- everything is so full of piquancy, something quite shocking for a standard platform adventure. The level design, atmospheric soundtrack, expertly crafted visuals and perfect gameplay execution all pile up to make for a breath-taking piece of platforming goodness. Mix in the use of a second player on the GamePad and Rayman Legends is a sublime experience and a game that would win over even the most hard-hearted person. Smashing through barriers, collecting the plentiful supply of items dotted around, dodging unbeatable enemies and overcoming treacherous spiky traps thanks to support from a second player on the GamePad; this is platform gaming at its purest, and the development team has to be highly commended for its attention to detail, righting the minor issues that prevented Rayman Origins from being the piece of perfection many reviewers made it out to be.
- Adam Riley, Operations Director.
This was the one game I was looking forward to playing the most at Nintendo’s post-E3 show and it did not disappoint. The addition of the GamePad now presents a whole new element to the platforming antics, where co-operative play becomes even more engaging and offers a very different experience to those playing on the TV. It was immediately clear that emphasis had been put on the GamePad player to help make tackling difficult situations that much easier, where enemies swarmed around Rayman in a more prominent fashion than in the game’s predecessor. The assistor was involved at all times, since just about everything could be manipulated in some shape or form. The simple touch controls meant just about anybody could jump into controlling Murfy -- even the most inexperienced of players. Communication now became a key factor, particularly in the mini-games where deadly contraptions had to be overcome in unique fashion. The introduction of the GamePad co-operative play opened up a whole new world of interesting design ideas, which were most definitely welcome, saving Rayman Legends from being too similar to the previous game.
Perhaps what will most fondly be remembered by everybody that played this wonderful demo is the stage known as ‘Platforming Hero,’ in reference to the Guitar Hero music games. Like the chase levels from Rayman Origins, the stage forced players to continuously dash to the right of the screen, making perfect one-chance jumps and smashing walls down to clear a path, all the while with the second player tapping away on giant eyes that appeared on-screen to create waves of purple collectable Lums. As Rayman successfully charged further through the stage, the guitar rhythm quickened in pace, with the drums pounding in time to the precise moment he jumped and kicked his way forwards. Undoubtedly, this was the best part of the demo, as the urge to survive and keep Rayman running produced heart-pounding and tense moments. That drive for success ultimately made way for a massive sense of relief and much satisfaction (Note: the delightfully cute woman showing off the game, complete with her own sound effects, also helped… - Adam).
Already one can see that Rayman Legends aims to offer something entirely new. Rather than perhaps being a simple sequel and creating more of the same, Ubisoft has not only implemented a fantastically distinguished co-operative mode that brings players together in such a fun way, but has evidently brought in platforming ideas that aren’t mere left-to-right side-scrolling levels. As if the visuals needed accentuating even more, the game is crafted so beautifully that this was easily one of the best-looking games on the show floor. That added lick of paint to the 2D sprites and the extra foreground and background art gave way to a tremendous level of depth that panned multiple layers, creating graphics that surpass the sublime original’s -- an astonishing feat. Anyone intending to pick up the Wii U can almost certainly add Rayman Legends to their wish list.
- Aaron Elias, Previews Editor.