Rayman Origins (PS Vita)
A few months back we reviewed Rayman Origins for Xbox 360 and found it to be one of the best platform games in a long time. In it we were taken into the Rayman universe once again for a whimsical 2D side-scrolling platform which was a prequel to the earlier Rayman titles. Set in the Glade of Dreams where Rayman and his friends, Globox, Bubble Dreamer and the Teensies reside we accidentally start a war with their neighbours from the Land of the Livid Dead by snoring too loudly.
When the Glade of Dreams is overrun by Darktoons Rayman and friends must work their way through a series of themed stages, fighting the aforementioned Darktoons and other evil creatures.
Now Ubisoft are bringing the same great Rayman Origins adventure from PS3/360 to PS Vita with tweaked controls that take advantage of the touch screen. Is this a must have title from the early catalogue of games?
Before we look at the Vita specifics, what is the overall gameplay in Rayman Origins all about?
At the beginning of the game we start off as Rayman, later moving into the other characters. Origins takes place through multiple unique environments with over 60 levels contained within and as well as the standard platform levels (with multiple depths) we are also treated to end-of-level bosses, time trials, chases and puzzle solving.
Looking a little deeper into the gameplay we spend our time collecting floating objects called Lums and freeing Electoons who are trapped in cages. As the plot progresses we gain new abilities (such as flying) that stay with us for the rest of the game and this offers us plenty of opportunity to go back and replay previous levels in a different way. The environments include jungle, ice, underwater, and even underground and each level is compact and challenging demanding split second timing and dexterity to maximise our Lum and Electoon collecting potential.
Of course stopping us from making our way through are a wide range of bad guys and we can take them out with various kick, punch and advanced attacks, often combining fast flowing movement into combos to work our way through a particularly demanding section. It's not all bad news though because helping us along the way is the Magician and his Magic Hat and through him we can trade our collected items to unlock new areas on the map and by jumping on the hat gameplay hints appear. Speaking of hints, these often explain the control method to us which starts with the general left thumb to move, X to jump and square to attack. For the Vita specific controls we have the touch screen and this is used for pinch to zoom, changing the game view as well touching collectables to gather them.
Also present on the PS Vita are trophies and the ability to share items with other players. Ghost mode also allows us to play against friends, aiming for the best time to complete levels.
Graphics and Audio
When we reviewed the home console version of this game we commented on the fact it was one of the best looking games we had ever seen. A cohesive work of art Origins always made us smile and this was due mainly to the graphics; the eccentric environments and characters that are goofy but drawn fantastically. Ubisoft have been able to bring a large amount of the visual splendour over to the Vita version which is great to see and the animation is smooth, environments vibrant and cut-scenes drawn well.
The visual equivalent of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory is accompanied by an equally bizarre but well-crafted soundtrack. We are slightly taken aback to admit that a soundtrack which uses such a wide range of unusual instruments from mouth harp to banjo, bongos, chimes and everything in between actually works very well even down to the random ramblings of the characters in their garbled voices.
Rayman Origins on PS Vita offers beautiful graphics which are a breath of fresh air in the current market. The light-hearted style translates well to the small screen and playing through the game is very much like taking part in a high quality interactive cartoon. This is particularly well realised by the fact that the graphics and audio blend together so well and create a mad but visually and aurally stunning game universe.
With a huge number of levels, differing gameplay styles, epic boss fights, unlockable content and a plethora of hidden treats Rayman Origins offers hours of good clean fun which is well balanced, though our main character can occasionally die a little too easily... however that does increase the challenge.
Looking specifically at the PS Vita controls the basics are handled well by the standard buttons which give it a real console feel and the touch screen is intelligently used too. The developers have stayed away from over-use of the new technology, just using it to enhance the existing gameplay which was absolutely the right move.
Rayman Origins for PS Vita, like its home console equivalent, is a work of genius. Platform gaming at its best.