Demo Impressions: Rayman Origins (3DS)

A few livestreams ago, Chris played Rayman Origins on the PS3, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, even if Chris did die a lot. Today, I got an email saying that a demo was available via Nintendo’s eShop, so I thought I’d give it a try. I soon understood why Chris died a lot, and it’s not just because he always dies a lot.

Rayman Origins
System: PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS (reviewed), PC
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Publisher: Ubisoft
3DS Release Date: June 8, 2012 (EU), June 5, 2012 (NA)
MSRP: $29.99

Rayman Origins is as it should be: quirky with fun graphics, great character design, and amazing music. Being on the 3DS doesn’t really do much for it, however, and I found myself playing it with the 3D off.

As far as controls go, Rayman Origins is pretty easy to pick up. You can use either the circle pad or the control pad to move in any direction (I used the circle pad). Holding down either the L or R button will give you the ability to spring. X and Y allow you to hit, and if you hold it down, you will use a power attack. Alternatively, if you’re on Moskito, it will let you inhale if you hold it down. A and B allow you to jump or fly (if you hold) while you’re playing as Rayman; as Moskito you’ll fire or auto-fire (holding). Start, as usual, pauses the game.

The demo features three stages: Swinging Caves, Playing in the Shade, and Shooting Me Softly. Swinging Caves was everything that’s right about platformers. It was fun, fast-paced, and highly interactive. I died a few times in the beginning, but it wasn’t a frustrating line of deaths. It was more like a learning experience, where you say, “Oh!” and then change your tactics. Your goal is to get through the stage, defeating witches and releasing Electoons, while also avoiding obstacles like hands that will drag you down. Hitting the witches is fun because they inflate after you jump on them, and if you get them to explode, you can collect Lums from them on top of the ones hidden in the stage. Collecting King Lums triggers a short period of time where a ridiculously cute jingle plays and smaller Lums will be worth twice as much. There are also hidden coins that if you stay alive long enough after getting them, you’ll get extra Lums. If you collect a certain amount of Lums within a level, you can get more Electoons at the end.

If Swinging Caves was everything that’s right about platformers, Playing in the Shade was everything that’s wrong about platformers. This level was an example of a “treasure chest” level, on of those autoscrolling race levels where you have to chase a runaway treasure chest in order to receive a ruby tooth. The problem is, there was nothing enjoyable about this particular level. It was completely unforgiving. You start out with a heart floating around you, which allows you to get hit one extra time before dying. There’s no point in that, though, because if you get hit at all, you’re probably going to die anyway. The game doesn’t care. Get hit? Too bad, you’re probably going to die. Jump too far? Too bad, you’re probably going to die. One misstep, and you’re probably done. When I watched Chris play this on stream, I kept thinking to myself, Why does he keep dying? It can’t be that bad, can it? Yes, it can. Not enjoyable. I think I’d be happy if these types of levels never appeared in games ever again.

In Shooting Me Softly, you get on what appears to be a mosquito and either shoot enemies and obstacles or suck in enemies so you can shoot them at other things. This level was a lot of fun, especially for people who like old-school games like Gradius. It’s got some extra features to it, though, as you can shoot at reflective pads that bounce your shots at various angles, which are necessary in order to clear some aspects of the stage, and there are parts where you need to stay by certain orbs in order to not be attacked by bats. I would probably buy a game of just this, honestly, as it was that fun.

Two out of three really isn’t bad, especially when the one you don’t like is an example of optional unlockable levels that are only really for people who want to unlock a more challenging stage. If I get this game, I’ll probably still try to clear all those levels just because I want all ten ruby teeth to get to the Land of the Livid Dead, but I’m probably not going to worry about it too much if I need to ignore those in order to retain my sanity.

Though the demo only has three levels and you can only play as Rayman, the full game will have over 60 levels and you’ll be able to choose from quite a few of the classic characters from the Rayman universe. Ubisoft is telling us that the game will also include StreetPass functionality in that you can share your progression, number of collectibles, time played, unlocked achievements, and avatar… so in other words, StreetPass really means nothing for this game, but that’s okay, because it’s not like it negatively affects gameplay.

Personally, I recommend downloading the demo and seeing what you can get out of it. It’s easy enough to play on the 3DS even if I didn’t use the 3D all that much for it. At $29.99, I think that this will be worth picking up. Ubisoft did something right here, at least judging by the demo, and it seems like they’ve done justice to the Rayman name.

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