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Published: Thursday, 10/3/2013

Rayman Legends resurrects the side-scroller

BY TOM FISHER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Screen shots from the fantasy adventure video game Rayman Legends, sequel to Rayman Origins. Screen shots from the fantasy adventure video game Rayman Legends, sequel to Rayman Origins.
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Look Ma, no arms...or legs...or a neck for that matter. Nope, Rayman is an enigmatic character who doesn't need all of his body parts in order to sprint, swing, leap, punch, and kick his way to greatness.

Rayman is just head, hands, feet and a whole lot of enthusiasm. He begins every level with a fist-pump and a healthy dose of confidence that never wavers throughout the nearly 14 hours of play. For the makers at Ubisoft and fans of the series, Legends is another in a long line of Rayman titles that will take gamers on a wild ride through strange worlds and bizarre environments to free captured Teensies and gather loot.

The game has a Mario Brother feel that makes sense when you realize it was created for the Wii U. It is also designed as a co-op meant to be played with one or more players but translates nicely to the single player as the companion's chores are completed with a simple button push.

At first, play is so simple that it seems like they have mistakenly chosen a game for a younger audience. But the feeling quickly vanishes as you work your way through the increasingly difficult levels. Much like the Mario games of old, Legends features a host of bad guys who can be dispatched with little to no effort. But the boss fights are astounding and feature tough sequences of combos to beat the big baddies.

You can blast through every level or take your time and explore the crazy worlds to gather loot and free Teensies. You will get a higher score and unlock more items if you slow the pace like Mario Brothers but if you speed through like Sonic the Hedgehog you can hit all the different obstacles at just the right time to fly through the levels with flair. It has elements of both styles and the choice is up to the player, but you probably won't have time to gather many treasures with the speedy approach.

The game is a puzzle platformer as you must figure your way out of predicaments from time to time. Nothing is too hard and the solutions come rather easily, but the frequency and variety never get boring. Rarely does it feel like you are doing the same thing over and over with the same results. Try and bust through a new level the same way you did the last one and you will hit a bottleneck at some point that forces you to rethink your approach.

Rayman offers some mini-games and challenges that help you earn points and unlock new worlds and characters. One mini-game challenge is a 2D soccer game you can play with friends. It's simple visually and mechanically but offers hours of fun. The only drawback is that there isn't an online side to Legends. Just like the days of old, you're going to have to plop down beside your friends on a couch to be on the same screen together.

As the game progresses, you can unlock different “heroes” to use as your avatar. Each comes with its own special abilities that can help complete certain levels with particular powers.

 However, none are so different that a level is impossible to conquer with a particular character. You can decide to play as all the characters as they become available or you can also choose to play as the same character for the whole game.

 The ease of play and the versatile approach to the characters is what keeps this game moving at an interesting pace.

Another design feature similar to Mario is the fact that you can jump in and start playing whether you are an aging veteran or a newbie with no game experience. Play is easy enough for the youngest recommended player (10+ years) but challenging enough to keep avid gamers and adults entertained for hours as well.

Contact Tom Fisher attfisher@theblade.com.



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