Not enough to save the Wii U
330SRP: £39.99Can you hear that? I can. It’s the sound of empty promises made long ago, way back in November last year. A time that Nintendo are probably still clinging onto as their Wii U hasn’t quite struck the pot of gold they had hoped it would. For some, Rayman Legends will be somewhat of a harkening back to those times when everything seemed glowing for Nintendo fans as they couldn’t wait for their new console.
Wii U demo units were scattered across the land in game stores, offering all sorts of previews of things to come, including a playable section of the exclusive Rayman Legends. That was before Ubisoft changed their minds and, in what can only be assumed as seeing the writing on the wall for the Wii U, opted for a later mulit-format release. Developer support is dwindling, as it has been for some time now, and it’s unsurprising really that Ubi wanted to tap into a broader, more lucrative market.
Here we are though, belatedly Rayman Legends comes to the Wii U and finally makes use of the features on offer courtesy of the GamePad. It actually feels as if the game is suited to this console though, as if it should have stayed a Wii U exclusive. Certain sections lend themselves perfectly for multi-screen control and it’s nice to report this for a change. Call it a gimmick or a fancy distraction, but the GamePad does offer something new and entertaining to the gaming world.
Legends makes good use of the touch screen controls with some levels requiring you to safely guide your protagonist via this method. You can play as characters beyond Rayman as you can unlock more characters, or ‘legends’ as the game refers to them, as you progress. Regardless of your legend, the controller acts as your tool to block incoming attacks, cut away obstructions, move obstacles and literally tickle enemies out of your way. You can even twist the controller in order to manipulate certain puzzle elements which require careful negotiation, this being the weakest of the interactive inclusions it must be said. But you know, it would have been rude not to include it right?
To that end, the game is really enjoyable to play. It makes for entertaining gaming, but when taken to co-op, or you have more than one character on the screen at one time, it can get a bit hectic, however that adds to the overall challenge. Sadly though, these moments are best enjoyed with friends online or in the same room with you. In its defence, the AI of your friendly characters is up to the task and responds quickly to your actions but it just feels a bit empty if you’re flying solo.
Considering that these levels make up just a tiny section of the some 123 on offer, it’s a small price to pay when you’re flying through the rest of the game with gay abandon. Credit must be given to Ubisoft as without putting the GamePad at the forefront of the game, these bits would feel tacked on, like they usually do in games that have touch functionality. Here they have a purpose, they have meaning and the game benefits from it massively. Should you have multiple friends on your list, or enough locally (and enough Wii controllers) then you will have no end of fun trawling through missions and re-running those where you missed a collectible.
If there was an area that warranted no criticism whatsoever, it would be the game's art style, in both the visual and audio departments. The game looks sublime both on the TV and in the palm of your hand, with bright colours and animated backgrounds, there is always a sight to behold in each stage. Add to this the backing track which is suitably timed to each section and level, with high tempo notes sounding when things get hectic and more gentle tones in slower paced areas. People can go blue in the face as much as they want, saying games aren’t and cannot be art, but titles like this are a shining testament to the contrary.
Rayman is a much higher paced game than other familiar and popular 2D platformers, and in some instances harks to the Sonic games of old. Whereas Mario is a more considered title, Legends often requires nothing more than quick reactions and more often than not, luck. Being brutally honest, Legends seems far more appealing and entertaining to play than the recent Mario outings as it’s something fresh and brings something new to each section of levels.
In terms of context, the Glade of Dreams is in turmoil once again with Teensies being captured and trapped, in desperate need of release by none other than you. In total, there are ten hidden throughout each level for you to find and free, which obviously gives you some incentive to go back to levels you have already completed. It’s highly unlikely that you will collect them all in one playthrough so for perfectionists out there these trapped Teensies will be a constant niggle.
There are plenty more reasons for you to replay as completed levels are open to Invasion mode which sees enemies re-inhabit them and you must dash from the start to the conclusion in 40 seconds, Origins levels are unlockable too so you can revisit levels from the Wii game in HD now, or there is the football-style minigame which you can enjoy with your mates or the AI. Either way, there are plenty of laughs and facepalms to be had all round.
Menus are handled in an interactive manner, taking the chore out of navigation. You steer your character through a landscape of easels holding portraits which you jump into to make your selection. Nothing ground-breaking that’s for sure, but it does take the monotony out of those boring selection screens that we have become accustomed to over the years.
Enemies vary in number, size and danger as the game progresses and the difficulty ramps up significantly. Early levels break you in gently as you get accustomed to the controls, but later on you will be tested in order to complete each level. To start you can walk right up to enemies and put them to bed but further on calculated moves are required to send them on their way. Bosses have been added to the last level of each section which don’t feel like unnecessary additions, they're more like a chance to prove yourself worthy and moving on to those unlocked upon defeat of the behemoth in your way.
Controls are tight throughout and there can be no qualms with the mechanics on offer, mistakes are likely to come from human error rather than a problem with the controller. Gameplay is boiled down to running, jumping, attacking and nothing in between, and to that end it’s an uncomplicated and rewarding affair.
- Fantastic visuals & audio
- Great co-op
- Huge replay factor
Time To Retire
- Shallow solo experience
- Best enjoyed in small doses
Rayman Legends Wii U Review
Rayman Legends is a joy to behold and a treat to play, it's just a shame we weren't treated to it much sooner than now. Being a Wii U exclusive could have been a positive thing for Ubisoft as, unquestionably, the GamePad brings something entertaning to the party. The interactive sections are chaotic fun and the replay factor is absolutely huge. You could spend a lifetime going back through all the levels and collecting everything there is on offer, especially considering some of the collectibles are dished out by means of lottery-style scratchcards.
It's not a system seller by any means, but let's face it, what is given the weak prospects of the Wii U at present? If you have a Wii U then pick this up and give it a whirl because it does the console a great service, it's just a shame that it's come arguably too late. But as it stands, Legends is a great game and must be played and enjoyed by anyone who can get their hands on it.
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