Rayman Origins: Not to be Missed
Do you ever have one of those gaming moments where you want to turn to the person next to you and say, "Can you believe this?"
Probably something that happened more in the past or at least has made a transition to the online world of a shared co-op campaign. But the more I play of Rayman Origins, the more I have those moments and it kind of sucks because there's no one to turn and say it to.. or at least that would be all that impressed. But impressed I am by Rayman and this blurb is my way of saying, "Wow!"
A couple of prefatory remarks: I'm really not a huge fan of platformers. Not that I don't like them, but the challenge is one that often times becomes marked more by frustration than enjoyment and with limited gameplay time, I'd rather not play something that makes me feel worse having not done it. In fact, I suspect that I could never finish Super Mario Bros. if not for the multiple lives trick in World 3-1and the warp pipes.
Rayman has a story I suspect but as far as I'm concerned and interested, it matters only to the extent that I know I'm trying to free nymphs and electoons, collect as many lums as I can, try not to let the baddies touch me though the baddies aren't always clearly designated as baddies.
Technically speaking, the game meets and exceeds all measures of criteria. Rayman looks wonderful in motion. The colors and animation are clean and vibrant, varied with passing levels. The music is catchy, infectiously happy yet tailored as well to correspond with the levels' changing themes. The controls feel superbly tight even as gameplay additions add to your character's abilities, be it hovering, swimming, running up walls.
There is co-op though it is local only. Karla has tried it and seemed to enjoy it though she didn't really understand what was happening or why and she's the kind of person where that kind of information can be helpful. However, despite the online limitations, the game itself also feeds into the best of what makes a game addictive. There are multiple levels of collection that essentially affect your level "grade." There's a base score, good score, and great score -- the last which can prove difficult but not impossible, requiring multiple run throughs of precise gameplay. There's a score attack, itself with two levels of achievement. Checkpoints appear frequently minimizing repetitive gameplay when not desired and makes stage progression continuous.
But solely describing the game on its technical merits does a disservice to the kind of magic that reminds us why we play games in the first place. It's the smile you have when you realize you're humming the tune driving to work. It's the nervous tension when your character swims about in the dark, sounds mostly muted, your path illuminated by mini-firefly-type creatures. It's the one-more-try moment that gets you in trouble for running late because you want to try to make another attempt for that third level of lum collection.
I purchased Rayman with Christmas/birthday cards from Target when it was on sale for $35. It's definitely a AAA title worth every bit of a full retail game.