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Monday, March 26, 2012

Rayman Origins (PS Vita)

I’m not too proud to admit this, but Rayman Origins is the first Rayman game I’ve played - ever. The only thing I knew about this franchise was that it was a child friendly universe that gave birth to a whacky spin off in the form of Raving Rabbids. I did not, however, anticipate the sheer amount of joy that can be derived from this title on the PlayStation Vita.

For my brethren who’ve never dabbled with this franchise in the past, Rayman Origins is an old-school 2D platformer that perfectly blends combat with platforming in a very vibrant world. Story, of course is not an integral part of this game, but it’s there all right. You see Rayman and his band of friends have through their obnoxious snoring awakened the dead who now inhabit their turf, the Glade of Dreams. And of course, it’s up to Rayman to evict the new tenants.

The game starts off in a jungle-based level, but soon expands to include multiple game worlds, each of which can only be accessed once you clear the previous one. Each world is thematically different, so in one you could be floating around the desert on mosquito shooting birds, while in the other, you could be sliding down frozen slopes avoiding tricky glaciers and what I presume are piranhas. The game packs in so much environmental variety that you’ll never get bored, even though you’re almost doing the same thing in every level. Also I recommend playing each level multiple times, because it looks real cool when you know the map by heart and (near) flawlessly breeze through it. Plus you get to upload your score online, so that’s always nice for the male ego.

Every few levels you’ll have to rescue a nymph in distress after which she’ll bestow a special ability upon you like the ability to glide mid-air, dropkick stuff or even shrink in size to access certain areas. The levels that follow suit very cleverly put your new found abilities to the test. For example, once I earned the hovering ability, I was thrust into a game world full of air vents that made sure I mastered this ability to progress.

While this game looks very innocent, it’s also fiendishly tough at times requiring near perfect timing, razor quick reflexes and of course, tons of patience. It is, in fact quite ironic that such a kid friendly game made me spew out quite a few expletives at my poor Vita multiple times during my playthrough. However, none of these moments felt cheap and can be passed after a few tries. If for some reason you just can’t pass a roadblock, the game allows you to skip that level, altogether. However, if you do that, (and no one will judge you if you do), you may lack the required amount of Electoons to progress to the next level. In that case you’ll have to man up and complete the level or replay older levels to earn more Electoons.

Rayman’s transition from consoles to the Vita is flawless and besides Uncharted, this has to be the most visually appealing game I’ve played on the Vita. Its art style is a unique blend of hand-drawn levels fused with fluid animation and gorgeous 3D design. It is a game largely meant for kids, so naturally levels are very vibrant and cheerful and truth be told, it was a nice change of pace from all the gritty/authentic games, I’ve played recently. The only thing I had to tone down was the in-game audio, since the constant gibberish and annoying music got to me after a few levels.

If you’ve picked up a Vita for yourself, Rayman Origins is the perfect addition to your library. It’s fun, insanely addictive and is capable of challenging the most hardened of gamers. It also offers players a surprising amount of replayability and is the perfect fix for gamers who don’t have a lot of time on their hands, since it can be enjoyed for five minutes or five hours. We most definitely recommend it.


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