By Dennis "CallMeBackdraft" Aspers on March 5, 2015
He has no arms, yet he has hands. He has no legs, yet he has feet. He isn't even blessed with a neck between his head and shoulders. Does this sound like someone who could be a hero? Does this sound even remotely familiar? If you still have no idea who we are talking about, let us introduce him to you. His name is Rayman, and we picked up our controller in order to recruit some legends.
Rayman Legends was originally released back in August 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii U, and in February 2014 for Xbox One and PS4. This spiritual successor to Rayman Origins, is now available free of charge for anyone who has an XBox live Gold account and an XBox One. It's the free XBox Gold game of March 2015. How neat is that!
When we saw that this game was available for download we knew that we just had to write a little story about it. Rayman is a pretty old franchise and some people weren't a big fan of it becoming a 3D platformer, and lost their interest in the entire franchise, which is, in our opinion, a pity. We for one were really excited when Ubisoft announced Origins as a old school 2D platformer. The release of Rayman Legends increased our excitement even more and when we started playing the game we were happy Ubisoft decided that the basic gameplay should be the same as the early Rayman games. I mean, come on, nobody should fix things that aren't broken.
Rayman Legends tells the story of none other than Rayman and his band of heroes on their quest to save all the Teensies, little cute creatures that inhabit Rayman's home planet. Our jolly band of adventurers sets out to free the Teensies, who are held hostage by the Darktoons, while in the meantime grabbing as much Lums as possible. The story starts out with the fellowship of nitwits sleeping on a tree for the last 100 years! Time to wake them up don't you think? During their "beauty sleep", the Darktoons took over the forest and captured all of the Teensies... AGAIN.
When we enter the first level we are immediately met by a sense of nostalgia; running around, fist swinging, Lum grabbing and (dark)toon smashing in a beautiful setting. It has to be said that the games characters are nicely modeled, the backdrops just have to give you that nostalgic feeling, they are new, yet so Rayman-like and they are great at setting the mood. Whether it is a lush forest filling you with lovely fuzzy feelings or a dark castle that seemed to have had a deranged pyromaniac for an interior designer. As stated, the gameplay is familiar and before you know it you are kicking darktoons' behinds, the difficulty starts off pretty easy, but while advancing through the game, you will probably more than once want to throw your controller through your television screen. This frustration however, is short-lived because the game has a huge "just one more try" quality. You just want to keep on going, which is a good thing. Because hey, without you those sweet little teensies are helpless.
Playing trough the regular stages already got us excited. But then we met the Music stage(s). At the end of each region, right after beating it's boss, you are presented with a stage that is basically Rayman meets Guitar Hero. Now, don't get overexcited and swing your guitar around your shoulders just yet! The controller you are currently using will do fine, because it won't change in a colored button smashing game. A music level is just like any other level in the game, it is however of importance that you run, jump and kick to the beat of the music, so get your groove on!
The beats in these music stages are really diverse; the first music level you encounter is called Castle Rock, and as soon as you start running you are treated to (a parody of) Ram Jam's Black betty. Once you manage to finally get yourself to stop playing this stage over and over again (not because you suck at it, but because it's absolutely brilliant!) ,you continue your quest and eventually beat the second region's boss. When this happens you are welcomed to the second region's music level, which they have aptly named: Orchestral Chaos. It swoops you right away with (as the name would suggest) classical instruments that play the tunes of a song which was written especially for Rayman Legends. If there was only one thing we could pick out of the tons of stuff that makes this game so good, it would probably be the fact that that the timing of these songs ties in perfectly with the hoops, jumps, slides and enemies the level presents you with. Ubisoft, we applaud you!
We seriously can't imagine why or how, but if you get a bit tired of playing the normal game mode, you can always challenge the world in Daily and Weekly challenges. These are time or distance based missions, like for instance: catch 200 Lums as fast as you can or how far can you get in a specific stage. This also a fun game mode to play, because you are able to see the ghostly figures of your opponents(which are people who have actually played the challenge) while you are trying to reach your goals, a fact that makes you want to best them just that little bit more. If you beat them then the next time you play, 5 new opponents are found with scores just a tad bit better than yours, challenging you to go that extra mile or cut that one corner which has cost you that one tenth of a second needed to come out victorious.
It doesn't really matter if you're playing this game by yourself or together with some friends (offline multiplayer). Solo or Co-op, one thing is for sure, you are gonna have a good time either way! So whether you own a XBox One and a gold account or not, we really think you should consider getting this game. Trust us, we know what we're talking about... No really, we're doctors... really...
February 2015 (PS4 / XBox One)
Now (March 2015) available for free on XBox Gold