I played Rayman for the first time in all creation inside of a children’s shoe store. It was Rayman 2 in all its simplicity and with those very aged nearly-claymation graphics. So in that completely awkward environment where I’m standing in the middle of a shoe store with a PlayStation controller in my hand, I dove in and came out virtually unimpressed.
Yeah, I mean, that was all the Rayman in my life for a good long while. Rayman Legends snuck up on me from a Wii U demo kiosk inside of a Gamestop in the college times, and I came away with a hugeeee smile on my face. In that awkward environment, I had been made a Rayman lover with only a few minutes of demo level under my belt (it’s always awkward when you’re standing at a demo kiosk).
The difference, beyond years of mechanical innovation, is in the speed in which you can toss Rayman from port to port.
Imagine a Mario or Sonic game without the ability to flow together moves into a smooth jazz performance of speed and accuracy. That’s what turned me off of so many plodding platformers that expect you to study a room before you earn the right to move ahead. I think it should, in nearly every case, be the other way around. Give me and other gamers freedom to move ahead at a blistering pace and learn as we go.
Rayman Legends HD does that at both paced and freeform RPM by taking you through mystical forests, dungeons, labs, and elsewhere. Your main objective is to help these blue kings, queens, and courtlings as they’ve been captured by the goofy baddies of the tale. In doing so, you can bounce, attack, sprint, hover, and employ all sorts of platforming combinations to save the day.
As I’ve said, I played the original on Wii U and that was the version of the game when it first released. The touchscreen added a dimension to lottery ticket winnings as well as the normal levels that none of the other versions contained. Now in the HD re-release family, the PlayStation 4 version allows for basically the same boons to come back because of that forgotten little touchpad.
So it’s here, with the most complete version of the game since the original, that the “best” version of the game undoubtedly lies thanks to a better sense of graphical power.
Look, between you and me, the Rayman Legends I see here doesn’t do much that the original didn’t. That’s the nature of “HD-ing” up an already colorful, expressive art style less than a generation later. We’re really getting into the realm of untenable visually parsing.
Which brings me back to the question I always ask with this sort of “who asked for this really?” re-release: Was it worth the effort? Rayman Legends is a terrific experience where you’ll have hundreds of captured maidens and lasses to set free and dozens of characters to unlock. Rayman Legends HD is that exact same experience, nearly to the letter.
Seeing an old friend is great in life as it is in games, even one that’s fresh away for only a few years. It’s just in the way that Ubisoft has thrown this friend back in so many faces tin such a short time period that’s worn its welcome a smidge. I’ll still invite him in for pizza and listen to his stories, but Rayman’s arrival wearing the same clothes and whistling the same tune lost the “wow” a while back.
Which is a long way of saying Rayman Legends HD comes off as nothing more than a recoup of loses from Ubisoft with its release, but is no less a prime piece of platformer. The colors and sounds are cartoonishly seductive like playing your early-morning Saturday’s as a child while the platforming is quick and responsive. If you’ve never Raymaned before, now’s the time to stand up with the rest of us awkward kids at a demo kiosk and give this crafted experience a slice of your time.
Rayman Legends HD Score: