Rayman Origins hit consoles late last year and brought with it a delightful 2D platforming experience combining the best of old-school and modern game design. Now Ubisoft's limbless mascot has made his way to the PlayStation Vita, and the transition has been a smooth one. This eccentric side-scroller plays every bit as well as it did on consoles, and the Vita's large screen does great justice to the game's vibrant artwork. The one drawback is that four-player co-op from the console versions has been lost along the way, but the introduction of a new feature that lets you share your best speed runs and race against those from your friends helps ease the pain. No matter how you look at it, this portable version of Rayman Origins remains a wonderful adventure.
6350297Just because Rayman Origins looks so gorgeous doesn't mean you should overlook its wonderful, eclectic soundtrack.
Rayman Origins is a living, breathing testament to the artistic capabilities of a 2D canvas. Every one of the game's numerous landscapes is filled with rich, hand-drawn detail, from the lush foliage of Jibberish Jungle to the flurrying snowfalls of Mystical Pique. There's an almost eccentric level of variety on display here. One moment, you swim through a haunting underwater abyss; the next, you leap across an industrial cooking pot full of molten lava in some hellacious version of a Mexican restaurant kitchen. Whether it's your own character or the many different enemies you encounter, the 2D animations are wonderfully fluid and impress a strong kinetic energy onto every last bit of movement. The Vita version even lets you pinch and drag the touch screen to zoom the camera in and really soak up those details, but the novelty is fleeting because you need to be able to see as much as you can to keep up with the fluid action.
Keeping up with the action is key, because this is a platformer built with the idea of player momentum firmly in mind. Most levels are intricately designed pathways built to encourage a quick pace, with rapidly transforming (often crumbling) environments, wide gaps, and enemies that frequently get the best of you if not attacked head-on. Fortunately, the tight, responsive controls in Rayman Origins give you every tool you need to accomplish this left-to-right journey. You start only being able to sprint and jump, but you eventually unlock new abilities, such as gliding through the air and running up walls or ceilings. And no matter how extravagant your move set becomes, the game always responds precisely to your inputs.
That's a good thing, too, because Rayman Origins is a deceptively challenging game. Though it starts out easily enough, the difficulty curve moves on a constant, gradual upswing. Later levels become twisted death traps outfitted with swinging radial saws, spike-covered monsters, and crashing electrical storms. Yet none of it ever feels cheap; you're always in control, and the sensation of darting through these intricately placed hazards makes for an extremely rewarding experience. You never need to worry about having to repeat entire levels over and over again either, thanks to the game's generous use of checkpoints. The difficulty exists--palpable and ominous--but there's nothing artificial about it.
Sometimes you'll just want to stop and admire the scenery. You know, when you're not being hunted by a terrible sea monster.