Lately Ubisoft has been batting a thousand when it comes to annoying fans. Rayman Legends was also part of this irritating streak. Rayman was originally a highly anticipated Wii U exclusive that took advantage of the Wii U’s gamepad, but Ubisoft decided to delay the release in order to go multi-platform, announcing the decision mere weeks before the release, essentially refusing to sell the completed game for almost a year, until they had several watered down ports to release alongside it. The negative reaction of the fans was extreme, and thanks to the delay, it was lost in the crowd. In full disclosure, I had never played a Rayman game before yesterday. I was excited when it was announced for Wii U because I’m a big platformer fan, but the way Ubisoft handled the whole situation completely killed any good will I had towards the game.
Fortunately, gamers are once again benefiting from the struggles of the Wii U. Nintendo’s Wii U eShop has a sale on Ubisoft titles for the Wii U, with Rayman Legends priced to move at $20.
If the title of this post hasn’t clued you in already, the game is amazing and well worth the $20. I’m so convinced that it’s easily worth the $20 price, the rest of this post will be used to illustrate why the Sonic franchise should be like this.
WHY ISN’T SONIC THIS?
Rayman Legends is a 2D platformer with a focus on speedy completion of short levels. Rayman is fast. Rayman lets you control your character of choice at high speeds, unlike more recent Sonic games that let you -watch- your character move at extreme speeds. I found myself wowed by the speed at which some levels were played, particularly the chase and the rescue stages. In chase stages, you use your high speed platforming skills to evade pursuing giants or out of control fires (just to name a few things), while in rescue stages you’re tasked with playing through high speed platforming gold as you race to the finish line in order to save little creatures from being sent to their doom strapped to the back of rockets.
While the high speed will inevitably lead to some deaths, the game offers unlimited lives and is generous with check points. The speed at which Rayman Legends lets you get back into action after a death is even faster than the speed of its gameplay. The only game I’ve played recently that even compares is Hotline Miami. This ability to get back into the thick of the action keeps the many deaths from becoming too frustrating because it doesn’t give you time to complain.
The team that worked on Sonic 4 should be made to sit and play Rayman Legends. It does platforming, speed, and pacing right.
RAYMAN LOOKS BEAUTIFUL AND HAS ALMOST NO STORY
This is actually a good thing. The character designs aren’t even to my taste, but they look great, and the stages are gorgeous and have an insane amount of variety and creativity about them. It certainly looks better than Sonic Boom does, and Rayman came out a while ago.
On top of that, the story to Rayman Legends is as bare bones as it gets, and the game is better because of it. This is something it shares with Mario instead of Sonic. Rayman and Mario have simple goal oriented plots: Run and jump across stages or worlds to save ____. That’s it. That’s all it takes. Even the good Sonic games stuck to this simple formula. The level of fun in a platformer is inversely proportionate to how convoluted the plot is.
Don’t believe me?
Super Mario Bros., arguably the greatest platforming game of all time. The story? Mario tries to save Princess Toadstool from King Koopa by running and jumping. Super Mario 64, arguably the greatest 3D platformer ever made. The story? Mario tries to save Princess Peach from Bowser by running, jumping, and hitting.
Sonic 2, arguably one of the greatest platforming games of all time. The story? Save woodland creatures and the world from Dr. Robotnik by running and jumping. Sonic ’06, arguably the worst platformer ever created. The story? F***K IF I KNOW. It’s a trainwreck and, as if Sonic lore weren’t convoluted enough already, they added time travel.
What’s the Rayman Legends story? Save some squishy little punching bags by running, jumping, and hitting. Sounds like gold to me. The less time wasted on convoluted story, the more time developers spend on mechanics, the lifeblood of platforming. The less story there is to get in the player’s way, the more concentrated the platforming action they get. If players wanted a long-winded, complex story, they’d be playing an RPG.
CAN WE JUST GET A SONIC COSTUME FOR RAYMAN?
Seriously, Rayman is everything I ever wanted in a Sonic game. It’s 2D, fast, controls impeccably well, looks pretty, and is just plain fun. It has several elements reminiscent of classic Sonic games, but done with the “next-gen” flair I’ve been craving. If Sega is fine aping Mario Galaxy so much, why can’t that just blatantly rip off Rayman Legends, at least then Sonic would be in a fun game again.