Demo Impressions: Rayman Legends

Similarly to this year and still growing strong, 2011 was a great year for releases in video games.

With huge releases such as Gears of War 3Batman Arkham CityUncharted 3, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to name a few, gamers all over the world had a satisfying and wallet-starving holiday season last year.

One game managed to sneak its way through these titans of gaming and gave many players around the world an absolute blast upon its release. I am talking about Rayman Origins of course.

If Skyrim had not come out last year, Rayman Origins would have undoubtedly been my personal game of the year. The only thing preventing it from being a perfect game was the absence of online co-op. It is one of the best looking games I have ever seen, the platforming controls feel perfect, it ran smooth both technically and in level design, it is hilarious, it provides some serious challenge and it has a delightful soundtrack that I can listen to for hours. You can only imagine how excited I got when Rayman Legends was announced several months ago for the Wii U.

This past Thursday, Ubisoft released a taste of what we can expect from the game when it releases Feb. 26 in the U.S. with the Rayman Legends demo, which can now be downloaded from the Wii U’s eShop.

If you have played Rayman Origins, then you will know exactly what to expect with Rayman Legends. If you have not played Origins, then stop reading this article and go buy it on Amazon. Here, I will even give you a link. I will wait for you to come back and finish reading this article.

If you for whatever reason have not played Origins, it is 2D platforming in its purest form that you can play with up to three other friends. You play as various characters from past Rayman games and basically complete levels set across various environments. There are other things to do in the game such as collecting lums, completing time trials and acquiring other various collectibles.

Those elements return alongside some great functionality from the GamePad in Rayman Legends.

In the demo for Rayman Legends, you can play with a maximum of five players set across three short levels. One person will have to use the GamePad while the other four players can use a combination of controller settings including the Wii U pro controller, Wii remote with nunchuck, Wii remote turned horizontally, or the Wii’s classic controller plug-in. It is great Ubisoft integrated so many combinations for controllers.

The first thing I noticed before I popped into a level was how drop-dead gorgeous the game looks. It truly is miraculous, but the designers and artists somehow manage to make it look better than Origins.

Though the game is in 2D, there are objects in the background that seem like they are separated from the stage well enough to give a three dimensional feel to it. The visuals look further vivid, the lighting has been improved and textures have a fine-tuned detail to them.

I dare you to look at this picture and tell me video games can never be considered art

There are three levels in the demo that are each distinct enough to give you an idea of how varying the gameplay will be.

The first level primarily had me use the GamePad where I played as Rayman’s faithful tutorial guide Murphy. I had to escort Globox through a dungeon-like underground. To ensure Globox’s survival, I had to manipulate the environments and protect him from enemies as well. I would do simple things with the GamePad such as moving surfaces up and down and left to right for Globox to jump on. I could even tickle enemies to give Globox a chance to land a slap to their faces. I can see these cooperative segments being incredibly fun to play with others.

The second level had me hovering in the air while avoiding spiked objects and brawling foes. There was not anything too particular about this level to go into much detail about. It is similar to the hovering levels from Origins.

The third level, which has me more excited for the game than ever, is a platforming musical level. It is almost like you are going through a musical with the inhabitants from the Rayman universe singing in their strange language.

This music level by itself makes me want to buy the game

As you play through the level, music notes will play perfectly with each action you do. For example, when I jumped from one surface to the next, it would play a drum sound or if I collected a bunch of lums at once, I would hear fast-paced guitar strumming playing in the background.

The notes do not play when you collect something or perform a specific action. Everything is timed with the flow of the level to the point of perfection. It just looks like whatever you did activated the sound, and it is commendably impressive. I hope there are more levels like this one because the song was not only awesome, but the platforming was perfect in its smoothness.

From the moment Rayman Legends was officially revealed, the platformer part in me skipped to the lou in excitement. Now that I have played the demo, I feel even better about purchasing the Wii U than I did before. I truly cannot wait until Feb. 26 for the game’s exclusive release on the Wii U.