Video Game Review: ‘Rayman Legends’ Brings Platforming Perfection to Next Gen

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CHICAGO – It’s possible you made the unadvisable decision to remove “Rayman Legends” from your gaming console at some point in the six months its release. I know I did, and once it was out of the console, finding a reason to put it back in was tricky. I had collected tens of thousands of lums, and quite a large portion of of the 700 teensies, and loved every second of it. But there was so much more to do. More teensies, more lums, more secrets and challenges to complete - very daunting. Video Game Rating: 5.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 5.0/5.0

It was like cold water. Once I was in it I didn’t want out, and once I was out I couldn’t bring myself to dive back in. There was always another game to play or movie to watch requiring the 360’s services, and opting to toss in “Rayman Legends” for a 20 minute dalliance was a first-world-problem kind of hassle.

“Rayman Legends” stayed in its case since I wrote the review, occasionally catching my guilty eyes as I reached for another game that couldn’t possibly be as flat-out entertaining as Ubisoft’s tour-de-force platformer, all the while hoping to revisit the game when I finally had the time.

Thus “Rayman Legends”’…Legend grew in my mind, becoming a growing-in-fondness memory I would likely never revisit - like a goat cheese salad, exercise bike, Brazilian prostitute or “Six Feet Under”…Until it was announced “Legends” was coming to Xbox One in February. I promptly acquired it, and yet again found myself up way too late on a work night, trying to get.that.last.damn.teensie. It was just as enthralling and exciting and crisp as I remembered - with a bit of extra kick graphically, too.

Rayman Legends is now available on Xbox One and Playstation 4
“Rayman Legends is now available on Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Image credit: Ubisoft Montpellier

For the uninformed, “Rayman Legends” is platforming honed to a diamond point across hundreds of levels, dozens of secrets and technically thousands of objectives. You’re given a run button, jump button, and and punch button. You use those buttons to collect lums - think “Sonic” rings or “Mario” coins, and teensies, which are blue not-quite-smurf looking guys, who act kind of like the stars of “Mario” games or the Puzzle Pieces in “Banjo Kazooie”. The more you get, the more the game opens up, including timed challenge levels, online challenges with leaderboards, and different characters to play with.

The graphical improvements are noticeable, with milage varying on the size of your TV. I noticed more of the beautiful smoke and fire and particle animation, and the uncompressed textures afforded a noticeably more vibrant presentation on a 42’ screen. It’s great for art nerds or folks who love to pay attention to this sort of thing, but generally speaking think of this as a visual remastering, not so much an overhaul.

But beyond the graphics, a reduced price tag, and a couple of “Far Cry 3”-related skins there’s nothing really new on the Xbox One Release. Though beating a tough-as-nails “invaded” level with a good score, then jumping off the sofa shouting “Xbox Record That…Bitch!” via The Xbox One’s Game DVR is a fun meta-feature and something I’m quasi-ashamed to admit to doing. It’s also a good game to flip to during TV commercials, or to play while snapping TV on the side - I watched a half season of “Shark Tank” while collecting items I missed on a given level or two on a day off this way, for example.

Seriously, don’t let the absence of new stuff get you down. “Rayman: Legends” was already a beautiful marriage of eloquent 2D animation, music, personality, and gameplay - with content to last you months and it all transfers flawlessly to the Xbox One. The control is tight, the characters pop, the music gets stuck in your head like an ear worm from “Star Trek II”, and the ‘music’ levels (you’ll know them when you see them) remain one of the most innovative things in level design history. If you haven’t bought this game on one of the fifty thousand other platforms its available for, what are you waiting for?

So then the question becomes, why buy “Rayman Legends” again if you already have it on 360 and not much has been added? Because now you always will have it. It will always be there, no longer requiring the swapping of the disk or juggling of time investments. Thanks to the power of digital distribution, “Rayman” is like a favorite button down shirt, fleece sweater, or worn-in-juuuusst-right- jeans, happy to stand by in your proverbial closet of downloaded games, happy to offer a familiar comfort for when the “Triple A” designer brands like “Titan Fall” “Call of Duty” and “Halo” don’t quite fit, no matter how hard they try.

“Rayman Legends” was reviewed on the Xbox One, but is also available on Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Vita, Xbox 360, PC, and probably the TI-83 calculator at this rate. video game critic Paul Meekin

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