Backlog Project: Rayman Origins

Sidescrollers and 2D platformers are a genre I feel I know rather well, and I might even say it’s one of my favorite game types out there – particularly if you exclude the countless subpar shoestring-budget games that tried to capitalize on the genre’s nostalgic surge of popularity. I’m usually pretty good at determining very quickly whether or not a sidescroller is going to be good, based on its platforming mechanics, its visual design, and the level layout. Sometimes, however, I run into a curveball that isn’t quite so simple to judge.

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  • Name: Rayman Origins
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Released: 2011
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Platforms: PlayStation 3 | PlayStation Vita | Xbox 360 | Wii | Nintendo 3DS | Microsoft Windows

My first recollection of Rayman games was with the first PlayStation, when the first Rayman game was released on it. That game was initially made for the Atari Jaguar, and it was a sort of an oddity in that it was a playful 2D platformer in an era that was all about taking all of the seven polygons the devices of that generation could handle and make all kinds of half-assed 3D platformers out of them. That’s the reason why the first Rayman likely holds up better than a lot of those three-dimensional games that no one really knew how to even make yet – although I can’t know for sure, since I haven’t played that game since those days.

Rayman Origins is the fourth mainline Rayman game, and although the visual style has slightly shifted as far as I can tell, no significant changes have taken place during the last 20-or-so years, and this game appears to be as faithful to the beginnings of the series as anyone could reasonably expect. I personally haven’t been much of a fan of Rayman at any stage, but it did win me over during the early levels of the game, as it really felt like a fun, straightforward platformer with no dumb gimmicks to muddle up a good gameplay formula.

Although I'm not personally a huge fan of the visual design style, I have to admit this game looks beautiful, whenever you have the time to actually look at it. Screenshot credit: http://www.giantbomb.com

Although I’m not personally a huge fan of the visual design style, I have to admit this game looks beautiful, whenever you have the time to actually look at it.
Screenshot credit: http://www.giantbomb.com

That was the initial reaction, anyway. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the game to begin irritating me mercilessly. See, in platforming games, I expect the rules of navigating the actual platforming to be simple and consistent – if they aren’t, that almost certainly constitutes to a bad gaming experience. Rayman Origins was fine most of the time, but sometimes it expects you to perform jumps or landings that aren’t intuitive in any way.

For example, in a game where there’s a short jump (tap the jump button) and a long jump (hold the button), any jump that you’re required to make should be either of those. This game sometimes expects you to make a long jump, and pick a seemingly arbitrary moment during the jump’s arc to hit the brakes and navigate down a narrow chute. While it’s not impossible, it’s not fun – and what’s the point if it isn’t fun? I’m usually pretty good at blaming myself for struggling with a game, but I do recognize bad level design when I see it, and unfortunately there were a few bad levels in this game.

The platforming stages constitute a great majority of the game’s content, and within those stages are extra challenges, such as speedruns and discovering hidden areas. Beyond that, there’s a few flying stages where our hero rides a giant mosquito (familiar from the first game) and navigates through hordes of airborne or earthbound enemies and environmental hazards. Some bad design choices here too, but at best it’s a good deal of fun.

The game offers a variety of platforming challenges, but not all of them are fun to play. Still better than the majority of recent 2D platformers, though. Screenshot credit: http://www.videogamer.com

The game offers a variety of platforming challenges, but not all of them are fun to play. Still better than the majority of recent 2D platformers, though.
Screenshot credit: http://www.videogamer.com

Bosses are an unfortunate disappointment in this game. Most of them are packed in the late game and it takes beating most of the entire game to even get to them, and when you do, you’ll notice they’re either too easy or, due to how their movements are entirely impossible to anticipate, too hard, until you suffer several annoying deaths trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do. The bosses also make very little sense – they’re generally all about first dodging an attack, and then hitting them in a weak spot that appears in a location on them that seems entirely random, such as their arm or something.

Rayman Origins is fun at best, but a few times too many it made me lose my temper, and that’s a bad sign for me in a game. It certainly has its moments, and it’s definitely not a bad game – I’d still call it one of the “good” platforming games to come out in more recent years – but there’s a lot that could be improved. Maybe they did in the next game, and maybe I’ll eventually get around to playing that one, too.

Trophy Hunt

I earned the Platinum for Rayman Origins on June 21st, 2016. I earned it in about three weeks, and played the game for an estimated 25 hours.

The Platinum is pretty straightforward, as level select can be used freely, and there are no missable Trophies. I started out trying to perfect every level as I progressed, but whenever I struggled, I’d just forget about it and play ahead for a while, and then come back to complete the levels I just blasted through.

I managed to earn all of the miscellaneous Trophies as I played through the game, and as I finished perfecting the levels and beat the final, “secret” level, I had earned all of the Trophies.

The Trophy list was a good one, although it was a little unsatisfying that it didn’t require you to earn the medals by collecting the maximum requirement of Lums. Most of the miscellaneous Trophies were pretty reasonable though, and you did have to clear the levels relatively thoroughly for the Platinum.

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