I’d like to talk about a game that is amazing.
A game that has no right to exist in this modern world.
A game which is a 2D, animated, side-scrolling platformer, made by a team of 6 people, which somehow secured a full priced ommercial release instead of the Xboxlive/PSN release any similar game would have been lucky to get.
I’m talking about Rayman Origins.
Many younger gamers will almost certainly have no idea who Rayman is. This is because in recent years he’s gone from carrying very successful games to having his name plastered on an otherwise unrelated minigame collection to eventually being booted out and completely overshadowed by said vacuous, awful minigame collection.
I played the original Rayman on a number of platforms, most prominently the original Playstation, the PC and the GBA. It was popular, and fun. It was brimming with character and challenging platforming.
The sequel (The great escape) was possibly the smoothest transition from 2D to 3D I’ve ever seen in any game series, and was downright stunning on PC and Dreamcast (I personally owned the Dreamcast version, which frankly still holds up even today).
There was a third game, but very few people played it, despite it being actually pretty good. And from there, Rayman just seemed to… stop. He didn’t fit into a world that demanded either casual gaming for all the family (like the horrid, vapid Raving Rabbids minigame collection that replaced him) or impossibly muscular men killing things with large guns an engaging in vaguely worrying homo-eroticism.
Rayman just didn’t have the mascot power of characters like Sonic and Mario who managed to survive (albeit barely in Sonic’s case) the 3D generation and so was thought lost to the winds of fate. And then suddenly this happens.
A beautiful (and I really mean beautiful, the level of detail and character that has gone into everything is astonishing and really just goes to show that 2D animated gaming is far from dead), quirky, and most importantly fun Rayman game.
Origins came out of nowhere, save for a very quiet announcement last year, and serves as an origin story for Rayman and his friends, as well as better tying together the first two games. As far as the story goes, Rayman and his buddies are making too much noise, and so their neighbors decide to conquer the world. It might seem a bit harsh, but anyone who’s ever lived next to someone noisy will, I think, understand completely.
So it’s up to Rayman and his pals to sort things out so they can get back to napping. Anyone can pick it up and play it, as it really is one of those games that just manages to be easy to learn and difficult to master. It’s challenging without being frustrating, and for those who want take it to the next level, Origins will happily provide. Platforming has been taking a whole new level. Rayman and friends can jump off almost anything, run up walls, hover, use enemies as springboards skid and slide and this freedom makes the game very fast paced and energetic. The combat is equally upgraded. Yes you still have the option to twirl Rayman’s disembodied arms around and throw a punch, but you also just plain punch and kick and combat feels like a graceful ballet of pain like in so many games these days like Batman and Assassin’s Creed, and more like a desperate brawl for survival.
Add to this four player multiplayer, which is actually co-operative and not competitive like in the recent Mario game where the players goal seems to be to do his best to screw over everyone else playing. It’s fun, fast and funny.
The game is huge, by the way, and totally warrants that boxed release and full size price tag. While it might not be something you’ll put in and play solidly for a week on end like Skyrim, Rayman has a certain ‘pick up and play’ element to it, encouraging brief spouts of hectic action. The game has 60 levels, not including special levels, boss battles and so on, and every level has a bunch of replay value in it, for collectibles to unlock later levels, general unlockables like new characters, new character skins, new powers and other special levels.
Rayman Origins in a genuinely great game, and worthy of being in your collection. It’s colourful, fun, funny, and slapstick. Kids will love it, adults will love it. You owe it to yourself to play this game and take a break from all that brown and grey and doom and gloom of modern gaming. Plus, I guarantee you’ll get more out of playing Rayman than you ever will from Call of Duty.