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I do remember playing this franchise in other devices (Xbox) a while back. This is the first time I tried playing this on the Wii. I am not a particular fan of the Wii, I must confess, though I occasionally do play them.
It is nice that I tried out a Wii game and picked up Rayman Origins for my occasional Wii experience. The only difference you definitely feel, however, is that the Wii graphics would appear to be grainier. The reason is that the Wii version runs on an anamorphic 640x480 widescreen while the Xbox version runs on a true 1920x1080 widescreen. However, it does not show up unless you have a HDTV which incidentally I do not possess. Another thing missing is the achievements. Nonetheless, Wii version has that enormous advantage that the Xbox version does not have and hence is a sure winner – it is cheaper at than its Xbox counterpart, tremendous advantage when money is scarce. (not if you wait for some months, you can get it at simialr price, currently under £15)
In this present time, when most of the games are becoming more complex with a plethora of plots and sub-plots, non-linear storylines, multifarious characters, intricate graphics, complicated physics and dense artificial intelligence, and layered music and sound effects, it was indeed refreshing to see Ubisoft use simple, old-school ideas of a two-dimensional platformer game for Rayman Origins.
The idea is indeed simple. Firstly, the game has a very skeletal story. It is refreshingly bold to discard the present obsession of having a convoluted narrative to extend the game. The good thing about an easy and minimal storyline is its appeal across all ages – it can easily be enjoyable to a small child in need of simple, uncomplicated fun while the grown-ups and older people enjoy the uncluttered fun without whacking their brains. The only people who would not fancy Rayman Origin are hard-core adrenaline pushing gamers.
Secondly, the game has some very funny and idiosyncratic characters. Though they are eccentric they still retain their naivety.
Thirdly, all these characters have a great bravura to them. Whether the character is the main hero or his assistants or even the numerous enemies out to spoil their mission, all of them have that uncomplicated flair that makes the game all the more interesting and hilarious too.
Fourthly, all these characters reside, fight and progress in an insanely zany world. But instead of making this weird world frightening or gory, Ubisoft has made them to be artistic paradises, beautiful yet bizarre.
What we ultimately have taking all these four elements into account is Rayman Origin, a riotous, side-splitting, amusing entertainment full of action and adventure.
The story is straight-forward. It is a fight between the good and the evil. The evil Darktoons are hell-bent to take over the Glade of Dreams (a make belief world inside the game created by Bubble Dreamer) having been sent to do that by the old granny from the Land of the Livid Dead. The Fairy Council, the Lord Protector (ess) of this Glade of Dreams is imprisoned sending Bubble Dreamer the creator of the Glade into a nightmarish dream sequence that allow Mr Dark, the arch rival of Rayman to escape the Land of the Livid Dead leading Rayman and his friends to get captured. However, they manage to escape.
In order to save their world, a Caster Teeny known as the Magician recruits Rayman (the larger than life weirdo hero). Rayman then calls upon his side-kick Globox to assist him in his mission. They rope in the Teenies, two wily wizards by the equally crafty names of Grand Minimus and Goth Caster and there you have the Mission Impossible Team (pun intended) that sets out to take on the wicked Darktoons and save the Glade of Dreams from the impending doom.
This is a typical, old school 2D platformer with elements that include action, adventure and comic interventions.
There are 12 unique worlds divided into 60 levels and 3 phases.
In the first phase, the player explores 5 worlds - Jibberish Jungle, the Desert of Dijiridoos, the Gourmand Land, the Sea of Serendipity, and Mystical Pique in a sequential order. Each of them are based on a theme – a forest, musical instruments, food and cooking items, sea and mountain respectively. Each of them also has a set of enemies, Darktoons and other quirky characters to obstruct you from accomplishing your tasks. And finally each one of them has a Boss – giant red carnivorous plant, a yellow bird, a gigantic dragon, a huge pinkish prawn and a mountainous golem respectively.
At each of these worlds the player must free some a captured character to acquire new abilities to advance in the game – attacking, gliding, reducing size, diving underwater, and climbing walls respectively. These new powers aid the players in confronting and overcoming the enemies to ultimately accomplish the objective of setting free the Electoons from the cages where they have been imprisoned by the Darktoons.
Along the way Rayman and his team gets ballooned when hit by the enemy and are slapped back from that state by the unaffected team member. If all of them are affected then they return to checkpoint. Of course they can collect hearts to protect themselves. During the course they collect gold Lums (sort of game currency), Lum Kings (worth double the Lums) and Skulls (worth 25 Lums).
Once you finish this phase you can move on to the next phase which has 5 more similar worlds. The only difference this time is that there is no fixed sequence to progress these worlds and you can choose the order yourself.
On completing this phase you can now enter the Moody Clouds where you need to defeat the 4 kings. Here the final battle is with an airship.
By this time you would have collected the entire needed ruby tooth for the grand finale which is the Land of the Livid dead. I would not go into any further detail to keep the excitement.
All through the game controls offered to you are excellent. The level design is brilliant with the momentum sustained by rhythmic gameplay intertwined with funny moments. There are a few cockups during the quest of a tricky treasure with the irritating backdrop pop-up showing up as soon as you start the treasure hunt.
ART and GRAPHICS
This game is the first to be made with Ubisoft’s in-house graphic engine. The artistic beauty is remarkable. The dense vegetation of the Jibberish Jungle to the surreal environments of gourmandise to the mythical world of musical delight to the rattling snowfalls of the Mystical Pique the artwork is simply outstanding. The Land of the Livid Dead is a gold hued graveyard world filled with scattered bones, skulls and spider webs filled with zombies and the like.
The game has around 100 characters, all unique, some pretty and others grotesque but nevertheless pleasing.
The graphics complement the artwork seamlessly making the worlds a mystical paradise and the characters absolutely vintage. There are pink mosquitoes that buzz angrily, tiny fishes that jump alarmingly, scary monster that poke their tentacles and even a hotdog.
This is fast paced game where your powers increase from a rudimentary jump and run to swimming, gliding, diving and much more as you progress. You have to be careful with your enemies and take them on early. You can return to previous levels to discover new treasures and paths. The levels sustain the difficulty all through but gives you enough of chances and checkpoints to also maintain a hold on your quests. The checkpoints make you not have to repeat entire levels which avoid unrequired repetitions. The levels increase their difficulties gradually as you progress till you encounter sudden death traps, monstrous storms and spooky monsters, all ingredients that never allow you to feel bored or lethargic. Then there are adequate number of prizes and trophies to keep you engaged and constantly interested. The only place you seem to be at the mercy of the machine is those bizarre fights with the Bosses. These boss are a totally unpredictable lot and can spring gruesome surprises. Except this inconsistency, there is nothing artificial to the game. It pushes you to a challenge and then rewards your accomplishment, an excellent balance. This side-scroll adventure would appeal to all, irrespective of age and gender.
Those who have played the earlier Raymans can recognise some of the characters like Mr Dark and the Fairy. There is some reference to the earlier games from the franchise also like Bubble Dreamers but this game will appeal equally to those familiar with Rayman and those new to it. I had vague memories of it but I found Rayman Origins to be absolutely new without any overhang from the earlier games.
There are lots of things to discover, acquire, uncover, revisit, gain, earn and accomplish. There are 66 levels altogether scattered over 3 phases and 100 characters and creatures to give you company.
It is enough to last you longer than any of the recent games in this genre without getting bored or frustrated. The longevity is desirable.
I confess that I have only played the multiplayer version – that’s what Wii does to you. I was always Rayman and any of my three took turn to be Globox and the Tensees. It has this unique feature of Jump-In/Jump-Out where my friends could enter play on same screen and leave without disturbing my (Rayman) progress.
Sadly, it does not have an online multiplayer option.
The music matches the pace and feel of the graphics and presentation. The music and sound have not been synthesised but actually recorded which can be felt intensely within the game. The sound effects emanating from the creatures and characters seem to blend effortlessly with the music creating perfect harmony. However, some of the minor characters babble feels fairly repetitive.
It has been decades since the Rayman originated. Rayman Origins tries to recreate those classic 2D platformers but excels at creating something novel. The essence of the game is that though it derives its strength from the past yet it remains unshackled with its root. The result is refreshing and highly addictive.
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