Rayman Origins PS Vita Review
Having only experienced Rayman Origins in multiplayer for an hour or so, I was happy to take on the review for the Vita port of the game. I was told countless times to go back and play more because I was missing out on a fantastic platformer. Nothing says “play me more” when you have new technology in your hands and need games to play on it. Rayman Origins is an exceptional platformer, an the game doesn’t lose any of its looks or handling in its transition to the Vita. Once again, the hardware shows off how well it can handle console ports.
The first detail you notice when you start adventuring with the armless hero is just how flipping gorgeous the game looks. Rayman Origins’ art style is pumped with bright colours that compliment the hand drawn characters and backgrounds in an outstanding fashion. You wouldn’t be wrong to call this an interactive cartoon; it looks like one, and everything comes together so wonderfully well that every area of the game is a pleasure to see. Having an OLED on the Vita really helps sell how awesome 2D artwork can be on a small screen. If you don’t feel anything from Origins’ graphical style, you probably don’t have a soul.
It’s been a while since the previous Rayman title came out, and feels even more so when you count the last time the series was in 2D. You shouldn’t hold a grudge against the developers for this though. What they’ve produced is some of the best platforming I’ve experienced in the genre for quite some time. With Origins, Ubisoft has not only created something lengthy, memorising and challenging; it’s also made a faultlessly balanced game that never feels it increases the challenge too drastically every time you finish a level and progress to the next one. Even if you find yourself often dying, the game has a generous checkpoint system so you never have to repeat too much of a section.
This finely tuned balance is due to the way levels are planned out. In the first five zones you visit, you’re taught unique skills such as punching, hovering and wall running. The levels in the zone teach you how to use the ability through masterful design, almost like they are huge tutorials. It’s not till later that the challenge increases due to the game chucking in levels that require you to pull off all of your learnt moves. These tasking levels never feel cheap; instead, your deaths are mostly your own fault for not being alert to surroundings that can help you overcome a difficult section.
At first glance, Rayman Origins might seem like it will be over too quickly as you fly through the earlier stages. Thankfully, there’s plenty of content since it features over 60+ levels which provide plenty of replay value since every level has multiple electoons to collect. Acting like stars in recent Mario titles, electoons are award for beating levels, finding hidden passages and beating the time trial that opens up once you’ve completed a level. This is a game that fully deserves its price tag.
A key mode absent from the Vita version is the multiplayer. As mentioned before, this was my only involvement with Rayman Origins before playing the Vita port. The multiplayer was buckets of fun, but it also made for some hectic gameplay moments when you had four people taking part. We had the most fun messing around with other players’ characters rather than working together aiming to get to the end in the best possible way. I can honestly say that playing the game in single player, for me at least, was ultimately more enjoyable than multiplayer, so I don’t feel this is a handicap on the Vita version. It was satisfying playing the game on my own, going at my pace, getting to sample all the excitement and happiness the game was offering to me. It was a magical experience that showers you in all the love that this game received during development.
Something added to this version is the separate ghost mode available on the menu. This mode features selected levels from the main game and pits you against a ghost in a time trial race to the finish flag. It’s something that will only appeal to speed freaks who want to demolish the game’s built in ghosts with some of their own records.
Rayman Origins is a complete package in regards to overall presentation. The soundtrack is cute, adorable and all other words meaning charming, yet it never gets annoying. It fits with the style, pacing and presentation of the game. When mixed with the brilliant level themes, such as a staged filled with musical instruments where jumping off drums or walking across strings creates musical notes, or the level based around swimming underwater, hearing the cheery singers from the backing vocals sing some unknown gibberish in the music is so soothing and magical that it feels like it should be a scene from a Disney cartoon. I haven’t felt this emotionally happy playing a game for some time. Well done, Michel Ancel and co; you’re almost making me cry with joy.
If you already own Rayman Origins on the console, it’s hard to recommend this. If you’re a gamer like me who never really got to experience it first time around, I highly recommend checking it out on either the consoles or this Vita version. If you’re undecided what version to get, then one nudge towards the Vita port might be the fact that playing Origins on a portable handheld doesn’t diminish the experience. Levels are structured in a way that makes it a good game to play on the move. Boot it up, do a level or two, then put it away and get back on with your life chores.
Even with Rayman Origins being a port from the consoles, it sets a high standard for platforming games on the Vita. I have strong feelings that it won’t be beaten for some time on the handheld. Rayman Origins is simply a game studio’s love and joy moulded into the conventions of platforming. It delivers precise controls, beautiful graphics, an ear pleasing soundtrack and simply some of the most exciting platforming since the older 2d Mario games. If you’ve not played Rayman Origins yet, you need to get on it because you’re missing out on one heck of a videogame.