gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Rayman Origins PS3 Review

I’ve been whining, moaning and complaining about the influx of Raving Rabbid related trash which seems to be sullying Rayman’s good name, so it seems only fitting that I should pounce upon a grassroots Rayman title like a… err… gaming pouncey tiger thing.

Rayman Origins is that title, and within about 10 minutes of firing it up I knew it was going to be good. I wasn’t wrong, either, a few hours of forsaking Skyrim later and I was throughly addicted to the shiny new platforming adventure. Yes, I was playing this instead of Skyrim… need I say more?

Rayman Origins takes Rayman back to the good ol’ days of 2D. None of that 2.5D nonsense, no siree, pure, vanilla 2D. It’s not without a dash of the 21st century, though. The graphics are absolutely gorgeous, presented in glorious high-definition and effortlessly recreate the feel of Rayman, yet with richer, more vibrant, more luscious and beautiful environments.

Rayman Origins will take you on a journey from jungle, to sea and mountains during which you will gradually unlock new abilities. You do this by rescuing suspiciously buxom, scantily clad fairies from the mouths of Darktoons, little black monsters which are frustratingly good at running away. The fairies include a re-imagined Betilla, who you may know from the original Rayman and it doesn’t take a genius to recognise that she’s grown up with the franchise.

A fairly standard Rayman mechanic applies. You must collect Yellow Lums and rescue Electoons from cages, with the amount of Electoons rescued and Lums collected adding up to produce a per-level score which not only affects what characters you unlock, but provides a great reason for obsessive replaying of levels.

Sadly, the developers seem to have missed a trick with the level design and unlocks. As you progress you’ll gain the ability to glide, swim and wall-run. Sadly none of these abilities will grant you entry to previously inaccessible areas on earlier levels. This does, however, mean that completionists can have a crack at maxing out a given level at any time, without making frustrating attempts at getting to inaccessible areas before moving on, getting the necessary ability and coming back.

The difficulty levels vary widely, but most of the earlier levels were fairly accessible by my 4-year-old who, surprisingly, was able to even snag some of the trickily placed gold medals and was oft playing better than her mother. Getting her to figure out the glide mechanic for the first time, however, was quite a battle of wills!

Playing with 2 or 3 players makes things much easier, as players don’t “die” but rather can float around the level as a bubble until another player tags them and brings them back into play. This is great for family play, as one skilled player (Dad, obviously!) can carry the team, or someone can hang back whilst other players attempt tricky manoeuvres to grab medals.

The “water levels”, or the Sea of Serendipity area as it’s known in the game, are definitely my favourite set of levels. Both the graphics and soundtrack mesh together to form a beautiful whole, particularly The Lums’ Dream track. In fact, the soundtrack is pretty solid all the way through, although it often ers on the silly with cartoony Lums vocals.

Character unlocks are a little disappointing. With only three different basic characters; Rayman, Globox and a Teensie. All unlocks are variations on these characters, with the vast majority being Teensies in different costumes. I’d have liked to unlock Betilla and the other fairies, probably because I can’t get enough of those characters.

Rayman Origins is one of the best couch-co-op games I’ve played this year, and has been the first time the family has played together since we reached the really difficult levels of LittleBigPlanet 2. It’s definitely a fantastic choice for a gaming-family Christmas and is the return to Rayman’s roots that I’ve been wishing for.

Despite the fairly straightforward gameplay and lack of any real incentive for going back to earlier levels, there’s plenty of opportunity to burn time playing Rayman Origins and, if all else fails, you can play levels in Time Trial mode and try to get the best time.

Monday, November 28th, 2011, Playstation 3.