That’s how long I waited for Rayman Legends to release.
Many of you will point out that the number seems extraordinarily large, but we have to remember that the game was supposed to be a launch title for the Wii U. It was then pushed back to a “launch window” type category before publisher Ubisoft dropped the hammer of an even bigger delay/multi-platform release. Many Wii U owners were crushed.
Personally, crushed is a bit of an understatement.
There were two marquee launch games that, if released during their original windows of expectation, could have severely changed how we look at the Wii U today. One of them is Pikmin 3, but we’re not here to discuss that game just yet; this is a review of Rayman Legends, after all, and we’ll be discussing Pikmin 3 in the near future. As you may have guessed, the second of those two marquee games is indeed Rayman Legends. If there was one thing I could say about the game, it’s this: it was well worth the wait.
Honestly, it’s a bit hard to figure out where to begin with the game. The levels mix challenging and accessible platforming quite well, the artistic aesthetic is absolutely gorgeous, the usage of the Wii U pad dwarfs anything else the system has seen thus far, the game’s musical stages found a way to actually exceed my expectations, and the game’s subtlety when it comes to humor is near perfect. Instead, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like had the game both came out as a Wii U exclusive and released during the launch window as originally planned.
Yes, the Wii U version has the advantage due to crisper visuals and the highly enjoyable Murfy stages that use the GamePad’s touch screen, but playing Rayman Legends on the Wii U just feels right, as if the developers took extra special care of it. Maybe it’s because it was the game’s first system. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that whenever I saw a live demo of the game back at E3, it was running on Wii U. Or it could be those Murfy stages. Whatever the case, this is a game that the Wii U was made for.
It’s those touch screen sections that stand out in particular. Without them, Rayman Legends is just another platformer, albeit a high quality one on par with Super Luigi U. With them, however, the game transforms into something Nintendo themselves haven’t been able to craft quite yet. It’s no longer about traversing from point A to point B. Instead, it’s about quick thinking, fast reflexes, and ensuring a safe passage.
Ubisoft has been able to take what may be an annoyance in other places, i.e. a completely new gameplay mechanic that differentiates from traditional methods, and transform them into a welcome surprise. You’re not dreading the Murfy chapters. Instead, you’re enjoying both the change of pace and unique challenge they offer. In fact, this is something Rayman Legends does well as a whole. The mechanics in each stage have a habit of differentiating. It’s a design choice that pays off due to the change in pace gameplay, as well as, and more importantly, the fact that they’re all well done.
Rayman Legends is a game that simply manages to hit all the right notes. It won’t overstay its welcome, yet offers plenty of replayability for the obsessive collector crowd. The gameplay is familiar, yet uses in the Wii U’s GamePad in ways to freshen it up. It’s visuals are crisp, beautiful, and inviting, but…wait, they’re just gorgeous; that’s all I can say about that. And all I can say about the game is that it was well worth the wait.
I just wish it came out sooner.