Wot I Think: Rayman – Legumes

By Adam Smith on September 12th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

Rayman: Legends Legumes is the sequel to the unexpectedly brilliant Rayman: Origins Oranges. The latter, starring a character that I had little interest in and whose style of running and jumping didn’t seem particularly suited to the PC, was one of my favourite games of last year. With that in mind, I approached Legumes without any prejudice but instead with a deep-seated cynicism. I am nothing if not my doubts. But is this a rushed and inconsequential sequel or another platforming classic? Here’s wot I think.

Rayman shows his disembodied hand early, but he doesn’t run out of tricks until Legends is complete. In the game’s first set of levels, each of which is locked inside a themed painting, one particular event involves a chase through a sandstorm. I’d been playing for around an hour when I first sprinted into the desert, wall-jumping frantically through the interior of buildings even as they collapsed into the Sarlaccian maw that yawned below.

Like many of Origins most memorable levels, it’s a moment that jettisons any notion of exploration, relying instead upon timing and spectacle. As a set piece, it’s a brief and exquisite side-scrolling recreation of the kind of situation Naughty Dog throw Nathan Drake into – a mad scramble, impossible for the hapless hero to survive without just the right dollop of dumb luck. Except there is no dumb luck here. Rayman is a more competent protagonist than Nathan Drake, and almost anyone else in game, as are all of the other unlockable characters, who range from reskinned returning allies to barbarian princesses.

There’s no room for mistakes, although that’s not to say that this new Rayman is an impenetrable challenge. Anyone who isn’t immediately turned off by the idea of jumping, running and collecting trinkets will effortlessly while away many hours in the game. The generosity of the unlocks provides fresh options and entertainment following almost every few minutes of play. Even a moderately successful attempt at a new level will usually provide access to at least one new area, including unique zones that change the rules of play in various ways.

There are also lucky scratch cards, earned between the silver and gold rating for each level, which provide random rewards, from a collection of pet creatures to returning levels from Origins. If the enormous amount of exquisitely designed, illustrated and soundtracked content weren’t enough, there are also daily and weekly challenges, with ever-changing takes on smaller arenas and parts of levels. These then provide access to online leaderboards that lead to further rewards.

It’s the kind of game I dreamed of owning as a child, when my parents could only afford to buy me one new cartridge or set of disks once every few months. A seemingly small package, with an apparently limited skill-set required, that unfolds into an enormous canvas. None of that would be relevant if the individual panels weren’t up to scratch but thankfully that’s not the case. This isn’t Cecilia Giménez’ Sistine Chapel restoration.

Incredibly, it’s a more attractive game than Origins, which was surely one of the most handsome games released last year. I was initially concerned that additional 3d modelling and animations would detract from the painted vision that made Rayman’s return so remarkable, but those elements are non-intrusive. It’s the detail in animations and backgrounds that give the world its life. Enemies rarely just stand, waiting. They’re torturing a Lum in some way, using it as a ping pong ball or a yoyo, and they transition beautifully between states, brandishing weapons, reacting to a punch, or taking a plunge and struggling for breath.

While powers do have to be unlocked again, meaning early levels are simpler and less challenging, the difficulty increases much faster than it did in Origins. From the first stage, a new mode of interaction is possible as Rayman’s guide Murfy now takes on an active role, hovering between points of interest and activated by the push of a button. His role varies, from activating levers and cutting ropes to change the layout of an area, to tickling, poking or slapping enemies to distract or displace them. In later levels, this adds an extra layer of complexity and with perfect timing, seconds can be shaved off the clock.

Murfy doesn’t appear in every level but there’s often something to mark an area out as unique, whether it’s a maze-like structure to navigate or the invasion of a SHMUP influence. There’s more choice from an early stage as well, with several plateaus of unlocks that gift levels from various worlds to the curious player. I tended to play in sequence, attempting to earn top marks before moving on in each instance, but there’s no obligation to do so. Fancy diving straight into the underwater world, which offers some of the game’s most striking and challenging levels? It’ll take less than a couple of hours to gain access. Only the final world – which isn’t really the final world at all – has a high threshold of entry. For the dedicated player, the other levels become farms to repeatedly visit in the hope of earning access to the endgame.

From beginning to end, Legends is extremely tightly designed, as best evidenced by its musical levels, which are as much rhythm action as platformer, a sequence of motion that must be almost perfectly in synch with a recognisable but warped backing track. I unashamedly adore the music, both the original score and the bizarre cover versions. It’s silly, cute, inventive and surprisingly varied. I’m willing to accept that some people will find the nonsense vocalisations irritating but I have only pity for those people. There’s a very real chance that they would be equally irritated by the laughter of their first-born or a whispered ‘I love you’ in the gloaming of their teenage years.

The harshest criticism that comes to mind is that Origins arrived first and I haven’t had time to put my socks back on so that Legends could knock them off again. Legends doesn’t change things a great deal but it doesn’t have to, and where it does, the enhancements are confident and meaningful. With remastered versions of Duck Tales and Castle Of Illusion currently clogging up the platform-pipe, Legends serves as a reminder that we’re better served by new classics than airbrushed memories that were best left in the past.

Thanks to the rewarding and regular manner in which the game introduces new content, Legends works as both a playground and a precision platformer. It’s brilliant as both, although with a leaning toward the latter. It even does boss battles well.

I didn’t play many of the Nintendo and Sega platform favourites back when they were first released, being part of the Amiga Master Race back then. Legends and Origins make me realise what it must have been like for people to experience them first-hand, without a decade of hyperbole and hysteria hanging around them like Marley’s chains. I’m probably tying a few chains around Rayman right now but, armless as he is, he can surely Houdini his way out of them.

Legends could have gone wrong. It could have been a rushed sequel, with not enough content or not enough craft in the content, but it doesn’t make many mistakes at all. It’s as good a platform game as I’ve ever played on the PC or anywhere else.

Rayman: Legends is available now. And, yes, I played through UPlay, which I’d rather not have as an extra gateway, but found painless to use and less cumbersome than when I uninstalled it last year.

__________________

« | »

, , , , , .

66 Comments »

  1. Jackablade says:

    I thought “Lemons” was the agreed nomenclature.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      It’s Leg Ends. Suits Rayman, as he has no legs but he does have leg ends.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Does this mean the third game in the series will have to be subtitled “The Bells of St. Clement’s”?

    • welverin says:

      Nope, definitely Legumes.

      I am confused by Adam’s references to Origins and Legends, what are they?

    • Odessa14 says:

      I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it.
      Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do,

      W­W­W.C­N­N­1­3.C­O­M

  2. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Super platformer and can be really challenging at times too, unlike so many other games out there.

    • Snidesworth says:

      Though far less hair-tearingly frustrating that Origins was. With the exception of the final world I never resented the game, even during the more demanding of the Invasion levels. I was also pleased to see that Murfy worked nicely without having a tablet bolted onto my controller.

  3. Coming Second says:

    That’s all very well and good, but how DOES he move his hands and feet? I feel we should be told.

  4. Easy says:

    Sadly wanting to try the demo uplay refused to work for me… uwontplay more like. Infuriating. That put me right off buying it. I’m sure I can google a solution to my problem, but, ugh.

  5. lhzr says:

    >>While powers do have to be unlocked again..

    erm, I think you may be mistaken about that.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Hopefully I’ve made it clear that it’s not the same progression as in Origins, but there isn’t a full set from stage one. But, yeah, ‘unlock’ is probably the wrong word.

      • lhzr says:

        >>but there isn’t a full set from stage one
        I dunno, running, floating, etc, worked from the first stage, before the tutorial messages informed me about them. If you’re talking about something else, I’ve probably misunderstood something (which isn’t too improbable, since I’m not the soberest of people)

        • LTK says:

          Probably wall-running, shrinking and a few other things I forgot. In Origins, you unlocked those after rescuing nymphs, but they don’t provide any opportunities to use those abilities before you have them.

          • lhzr says:

            I think wall-running is also there from the start, but you’re right, at first there are no opportunities for shrinking, which is probably what Adam meant.

  6. JustAPigeon says:

    I love this game. Do you enjoy smiling and being happy? Then buy it.

  7. RedViv says:

    I vote Barbara for character of the century.

    • Coming Second says:

      I prefer tween warrior princess repaint Mk6.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I’m sorta confused by the character. I mean yeah, she’s awesome, but I don’t know if the game has made up its mind whether she’s a kid or a sexy adult with pert boobs (which are visible when the game zooms in).

      • RedViv says:

        I’unno, I think as a monkey girl stuck in a giant robot lady I don’t quite have an objective opinion on being just one of those.

  8. Winged Nazgul says:

    Amiga Master Race checking in.

  9. Dromph says:

    I liked Oranges better to be honest. I can’t even really pinpoint it. The fact that it was harder is one aspect, but it somehow just felt better overall.

  10. golem09 says:

    I loved this game (while finding Origins very boring), but just as in Origins, I still hate the floaty controls. I mean it doesn’t have to be Spelunky responsiveness to an unnatural extent, but the time it take to run and make a decent jump is a bit too long, and then everything is disrupted by those akward ground and midair attacks. Sure I was able to learn them and beat the time trial levels, but why design it like that in the first place?

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Does it take time to jump? I think maybe it takes a tiny bit of distance to get running for the jump, but for me the controls feel very precise.

    • MarcP says:

      Thank you, those were my biggest concerns. I’ll skip this one then (good to hear it’s less boring, but I can’t like a platformer if I don’t enjoy moving around).

      • Seraph says:

        You’re really gonna be missing out! I’m playing through Origins with my wife now and it’s FANTASTIC. The platforming mechanics are different than a lot of platformers in subtle ways, which definitely takes some getting used to, but once you get over that and embrace the floatiness it controls beautifully.

      • golem09 says:

        As I said, I didn’t like Origins. I found it boring, hated the controls, and quit after still getting no fun out of the gameplay at world 6.
        Legends is completely different somehow. Even in the very first level I already had more fun in platforming and searching for stuff than in the whole of Origins.
        What’s also much better is the collecting mechanic of the Lums. It’s not like in Origins, where you needed one of the big ones, to turn the rest into purple ones for a certain time. Instead you always have chains of Lums, and only the first is purple. If you got than one actually first in the chain, the second one becomes people, and so on. Collecting by order is a lot more fun than collecting by time limit.
        TL:DR it’s MUCH better, even if you hated Origins, or probably especially if you hated it. Try it.

    • Tiller says:

      Have you ever played a classic Sonic game? It’s what Rayman plays more like with its movement. It’s not as static as Megaman or Mario is. You have a certain momentum and flow you have to get into. Quite frankly I find that much more fluid than the ultra precise stuff, and even then Rayman is pretty precise.

      • golem09 says:

        Thing is, the game wants you to constantly stop and look for stuff. The levels where you can get everything by running through them are a lot of fun and the controls work there. But in many levels you are forced/encouraged to do the opposite.

  11. eraserhead says:

    This game is utterly delightful. Playing it simply makes me happy. The attention to everything: characters, animations, backgrounds, music, level design, the perfect controls, the crazy ideas, the wonderful co-op – all this make this an absolute must have. And it can’t be stressed enough how great the underwater “stealth” levels are. Or how nice it is to revisit the enhanced Origins levels.
    And there’s football, too!

  12. Saul says:

    It’s fantastic. I think Origins was a slightly tighter experience, mostly because there was less crud between levels (those scratchies are pretty, but an extraordinary waste of time, especially since you always win). But the music levels are some of my favourite things ever. Mariarchii Eye of the Tiger? Delicious.

  13. strangeloup says:

    Sounds pretty good to me! Seems to be reported that it’s a bit less of a frustration-fest than Oranges, too.

    Of course, the other advantage of Rayman over Nathan Drake is that he’s not an utter dick.

  14. Dominic White says:

    90% of peoples issues with Murfy can be addressed simply by tweaking the controls a little. By default, his action button is (assuming a 360 controller) the Y button, meaning you need to take your thumb (which should be resting across jump and attack) from its default position.

    Just rebind Murfy to the right trigger, which is otherwise unused. Voila, now you’ve got Jump, Attack, Run and Murfy all under your fingers simultaneously. It makes using the little green fly-thing in conjunction with normal movement a joy, rather than a chore.

  15. Viroso says:

    Should I skip Oranges and have just Legumes instead? I had my eyes on Oranges but, you know, backlog and all, so it was still in the queue.

    • Shiri says:

      Yes. Legends has touched up versions of (almost?) all the Origins levels, plus an equal amount of new levels, and the completion mechanic and checkpoints are more forgiving, but the actual gameplay is just as challenging and satisfying to beat. The time attack levels are better too. Just better all round really. To put it another way, if someone played Legends, I wouldn’t suggest they try Origins too, it’s just redundant.

    • Saul says:

      I’d say play both – Origins is superb in it’s own right, maybe even a little bit better than Legends.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Don’t forget that Legends also contains loads of levels from Origins.

        Edit: Um… reading fail.

  16. Turkey says:

    How French is this game on a scale from 1 to 10 croissants?

    • gunny1993 says:

      It’s cold tea with 2 spoons of sugar on a Wednesday afternoon just after 3.

    • tnzk says:

      If the scale was 1 – 10 croissants, this is 3 croissants and 7 pain au chocolats.

      The thing is, you can usually sniff a French video game from a mile away. Just like the denizens, French video games appear both admirable and obnoxious* at the same time. Games like Flashback/Another World, Dark Messiah/Dishonored, Alone in the Dark 2008, Test Drive Unlimited, Heavy Rain/Beyond, and even the allegedly horrible Amy is very French.

      However he does it, Michel Ancel removes that thick membrane of Frenchism that repels many a people, and instead warmly invites and seduces you to play his games; while still retaining a vision which is undoubtedly French. Legends is no exception.

      *I must disclaim that the French aren’t obnoxious, though most of us describe their attitudes as such.

    • Seraph says:

      I can’t speak for Legends, but my experience is that the Frenchiness level of Origins is roughly that of David Belle, Cyril Raffaelli, Jean Reno, and the Wakfu team battling an army of miniature Napoleons who when struck in the nose cry “Honh-Honh!” and “Sacre Bleu!” and burst into crepes, in the art style of Le Roi et l’oiseau with musical accompaniment by IAM.

  17. Eight Rooks says:

    Leg Ends does retain a lot of the ridiculous frustration from Oranges – levels like Up, Up And Get Away are pure nonsense, and it’s odd that the people who detest QTEs aren’t out in force over this kind of thing. The controls are still too loose, frequently unintuitive (why doesn’t the ground pound go straight down? Why does it pay any attention to inertia?) and inconsistent (I gave up on that level because there was a point where by any sensible metric I was doing the exact same thing to jump away from a wall I’d done fifty thousand times already, only here it refused to work no matter what for no apparent reason).

    And yet I really, really like Leg Ends where I just gave up on Oranges, and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s a bunch of stuff, I guess – the controls do seem considerably better thought out, despite their flaws, the visuals are hugely improved, but even the challenges seem better pitched. Oranges I frequently felt the game was laughing at me but here even if I give up I’m far more ready to think “Eh, guess I’ll just never be able to do X”. And I only played Oranges a few weeks ago, so it’s got little or nothing to do with the passage of time.

    I just find it nearly impossible to outright hate the game, for all I think it’s got some serious flaws and people are far too ready to overlook them because la la la, happy smiley French animation, cheery silly old-school platformer, so on, so forth. It just, well, it is so relentlessly upbeat and frequently so smart with it I’m willing to forgive it a multitude of sins (it’s just not 10/10, game of the year or whatever). Got it cheap from one of those please-let-this-not-be-a-scam CD key retailers, and it’s one of the few games I’ve ever felt guilty about how much of a bargain I received. Over-rated? Yes, arguably, as far as I’m concerned. But for all my grumpy cynicism it still puts a smile on my face inside thirty seconds of starting it up every. Damn. Time.

  18. DrGonzo says:

    Is there more variety this time? In the first one, it felt like it had maybe 3 levels tops? I liked it for 30 mins or so but then it became just repeating the same thing over and over again.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      This is the maddest thing I’ve ever heard. But if you must have an answer then yeah, I reckon Legends has more variety.

      • DrGonzo says:

        Well, I was playing it in coop, and the feeling was unanimous, game is great fun, but there were so few backgrounds or level themes, it felt very repetitive.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          That’s really weird – I had the opposite reaction to both games. There are some really nice gimmicks that pop up in Legends though, both graphical and mechanical, probably more than Origins. Hope that helps.

  19. Vandelay says:

    As great as this sounds, I think I’m going to wait for this get a price cut on the system it was designed for. Murphy just makes more sense on the Wii U. Quite some time ago, as a consolation for the absurd delay, they released the daily and weekly challenges for free on the system and the Murphy levels were wonderfully frantic, something that I can’t see translating well simply with an action button.

    That and it will give me a game to play on the damned thing (I jest – I really need to play more of the wonderful Pikmin 3.)

    • Cleave says:

      I’d love to try the game on Wii U for the Murphy controls but they work fine on the PC. It’s a lot like the powers in the recent prince of persia, timing jumps with button presses to move platforms and allow you to pass obstacles. Good stuff, I find that sort of gameplay alot of fun anyway.

  20. Alexrd says:

    Is there a DRM-free version of this game? I want to buy it, but Ubisoft is making it difficult…

    • Suits says:

      All versions including retail are tied into Uplay this time around. This is due to the fact that all the Challenges require a connection to the Ubisoft servers. Which are basically daily and weekly leaderboard runs. And there are “Action and Rewards” and achievements too for those interested. So far I had no problem with Uplay and the Challenge stuff is fun enough. No DRM-free version though, as Steam forwards you to Uplay now as well. (Steam version of Origins could be played without booting Steam)

  21. Suits says:

    Rayman Origins didn’t originally come out last year though. The PC only got their port half a year after the console version. So 1,5 to 2 years of development time for this can’t exactly be called potentially rushed. Even if the Wii U version was due earlier, they had the whole UbiArt framework already in place for that as well. Who knows how much they added after that initial date by the way?

  22. JoannJKeenan says:

    my roomate’s mother makes $76 every hour on the laptop. She has been laid off for 6 months but last month her pay was $17788 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Extra resources………

    w­w­w.J­o­b­s­5­3.c­o­m