Rayman; a once classic series that hasn’t seen a true representation since 2005 with the Gameboy Advance release: Hoodlum’s Revenge which ultimately flopped, beginning the series’ demise and disappearance from the market. Rayman’s more recent escapades have mainly involved ‘Rabbids’. Raving Rabbids to be specific, and the original spin-off was initially planned as a one-off, simple mini-game based Wii launch title. Four years on, and Ubisoft have dragged out a total of six furry failures, all completely dishonouring Rayman’s past, and shattering the little dignity the character had left.
But now we’re in 2011, and the month of November is cluttered with high profile game releases sure to make any gamer’s wallet cry metaphoric tears of gold. Among the smorgasbord of titles lies the golden ticket to Rayman’s long overdue revival: Rayman Origins.
Origins is taking Rayman back to his roots, recreating the love so many experienced with the first game. Gone are the gimmicks, gone are the nonsensical rabbits, gone are the pointless additions, Origins has stripped back Rayman to its simplest, and most brilliant form. It is a barebones platformer, with a button to jump, a button to attack, and a stick to move. Nothing more. In this modern age, we underestimate the quality of simplicity, but Origins will eradicate those delusional views.
The most notable change in Origins is the new, radically vibrant art style. It looks almost hand-drawn, and combined with the game’s comical characters and animations, it almost feels like you’re playing through a Greenblatt cartoon. Not many other games look quite as unique as Origins, which is perhaps why it seems so special.
Once loved characters like Globox and Moskito have been brought back, full of the flair, humour, and beauty their previous iterations lacked. Ubisioft manage to empower these speechless sprites with vivid personalities. Making a character so full oflife without the aid of speech is quite a hard feat, but the developer’s genius use of over-the-top animations does a better job than words ever could. Don’t think that this graphical style is all the game has to offer, however.
Countless new platformers fall into the trap of making their game over-complicated, like Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet or over simplistic, like Mario. From the demo, Origins creates the perfect balance. It boasts easy controls, yet challenging and engaging puzzles to keep the player’s interest, something that’s quite hard to perfect. Another game seeming to strike this balance is Fez, an exceptionally different indie title releasing sometime next year.
Origins is probably the most underestimated title to release this year. Many players, like myself, have been disheartened by Ubisoft’s abuse of a hero. The constant regurgitation of ‘Rabbids’ games that completely crush his legacy. Origins and its new developers will hopefully breathe life back into the series, and make Ubisoft realise that the helicopter-haired, limbless hero can still be appreciated by so many; his ‘life’ isn’t over unless they carry on this doomed path.
For many, Origins will be a game avoided in favour of the more popular and more marketed games like Skyrim, Modern Warfare 3, and Saints Row 3, all unfortunately releasing in the same month. This shouldn’t happen. The potential that Rayman’s revival holds is immeasurable, and could (hopefully) spark the character’s recreation, becoming a classic once more. The developer’s passion radiates through this game, and among the ever-brown and grey world of modern games, that’s a rare occurrence. I ask of you, do not discount Rayman: Origins, it is worthy of being released in this hectic month, worthy of being released alongside AAA titles like Skyrim; because it is one itself.