Title: Rayman Origins
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii
Release Date: Out now
In this reviewer’s euphoric N64 days, one videogame, Rayman 2: The Great Escape was played to such an extent that since hanging up the oddly-shaped N64 controller, much despair has been caused by the decline in quality in the franchise’s subsequent outputs. In recent years the Rayman universe had been hi-jacked by the ‘Raving Rabbids’, a furry saga-destroyer the likes of which have not been seen since the Ewoks. With Origins however, Ubisoft, the game’s developers, have wiped the slate clean, providing a 2D platformer reminiscent of the original Rayman, for which Origins serves as a prequel.
The series has always tried to not bog down its players with drama, and as such Origins presents a refreshing bare bones approach, in which Rayman’s friend Globox irritates a granny, living in the land of the living-dead, who in retaliation fills Rayman’s world with bad guys. This bizarre introduction sets up a 2D side scrolling adventure that inhabits a world that is not only visually breath-taking, but filled to the brim with imaginative characters, level designs and music, as well as the trademark humour that you would imagine to be logical in a game in which the protagonist’s body is disconnected from his hands and feet.
In relation to the aesthetics, which are vital to the game’s charm, Ubisoft have employed a brand new graphics engine entitled ‘UbiArt framework’, allowing game artists to focus on the art itself, without having to worry about the technical aspects of game development, thus providing this year’s most artistically cohesive videogame, with smile-inducing art direction. Plant life unfurl around you, pillars collapse and avalanches unveil lush landscapes with smooth animations, all wrapped up in a sixty-second frame rate.
The online mode has been abandoned in favour of local multiplayer, however this seems nearly irrelevant as its brimming personality is perfect for four player local multiplayer.
With so many things going on on-screen at the one time it can be difficult to focus, but the animation remains flawless and exquisite. Despite its playful nature, Rayman is as challenging as they come, relying on the player’s dexterity and twitch reflexes and ultimately showcases the finesse and wit of the experience as a whole.
Rayman is the joyous return to form of one of the most significant franchises to the platform genre; a genre in which Origins will now remain as a highlight. In a time in which bleak and gory war videogames are in excess, Origins emerges as a gorgeous stalwart of confidence and colour.