Rayman Origins Review
A cartoon come to life, with four-player coop to boot.
Now this is a colorful game. I mean, really colorful. I'd like to talk about the graphics in Rayman Origins, a game which is the closest you'll ever get to a Saturday morning cartoon in video game form. Animation is fluid, colors are vibrant, and characters look like they're ripped straight from a cartoon. Everything from idling to running-in-place to sliding along the ground looks impressive, and even similar enemies have subtle differences between them that stops things from becoming mundane.
Rayman might be a 2D game that is a cartoon come to life, but I'd say it has some of the best graphics on the systems its on. It's just simply looks amazing and I'm looking forward to the special animation tech between used in other games. Playing this game on the Xbox 360 makes me realize that there is merit to style over realism in video game graphics.
Now, the game.
A platformer in the most classical sense, Rayman Origins has you and up to three other players join in a quest to save a bunch of little pink guys from an old lady from the Underworld who has captured them because Rayman and friends snore too loudly. Yup. So, you must make your way through lots of levels, rescuing these guys while trying to stay alive yourself, running through gorgeous environments with fun music while collecting little yellow lums (pronounced with a long 'o', as in iLUMination), rescuing the Nymphs, and looking out for secrets.
Every level ends with an electoon (the pink guys) cage that you can crack open, ending the stage. However, most levels also have extra hidden cages that you can find. In addition, finding enough lums on the level will grant you more electoons. If you find enough, you can also get a medal, and in addition, each level comes with a time trial for you to race through after completing it once. With the amount of things to do in every level, there's a lot of gameplay to find in Origins, depending on how much you want to do. There's always a minimum of Electoons required, however, to reach the next level.
The game isn't easy, if you're looking for a challenge: the time trials take work, and finding enough lums to get that medal isn't something you just accidentally do, so don't expect this to be a walk in the park. There's also a Chest Chase in each of the worlds, which forces you on a race against a container as it flees from you, having you make some quick jumps and close calls to keep up with it while the environment threatens to crush you and crumble away to nothing.
Like I said before, the game looks and sounds amazing, but the biggest issue with it is the platforming. Since this is, well, a platformer, you might think that this would be problematic, and it is in a small way. Things feel...slippery as times, and molasses-like at others. Rayman and his compatriots seem to slip around on the environment like it was covered with grease, and some smaller platforms can be a real pain in the but to jump to and from. Getting enough acceleration for a jump can also be strangely problematic. Luckily, there are no 'lives' in the game, and dying simply means restarting from a checkpoint, but this can mean losing progress and being forced to recollect some hard-to-get lums, so it can be quite annoying.
Multiplayer is a gas. If you've played the New Super Mario Bros game on the Wii, you'll feel right at home here as four players can take control of Rayman, his friend Globox, and two Teensies as they run and jump across the levels. If someone dies, they just need to be hit by another player to come back, making some of the trickier parts of the game much more navigable. You can also beat the snot out of your friends, sending them to their bottomless-pitted-doom. That's also a lot of fun. There's a minor competitive feature in which everyone's lums are tallied at the end of each level for minor bragging rights, so be sure to lord this over whoever you're playing with.
Rayman Origins is a lot of fun. It's a classic platformer that looks like an animated cartoon, can be played with friends, and rewards you for exploring and looking in every corner you can. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes the genre, and anyone that likes a good-looking title. The platforming is a little hard to get used to, but it's not impossible to get used to, just a bit of an issue. Despite that hiccup, I recommend you give this cartoon-come-to-life a go, and see exactly why good graphics doesn't have to mean photo-realistic.