Hey folks Valkor here. And here we go, as we begin our coverage of Playstation Vita (PSV) software. We took the hardware for a spin and it's quite impressive. But without the software the device is pretty much useless… though not entirely. That's why the folks at Ubisoft are stepping in to fill that need, starting with taking their console, 2D side-scrolling hotty and slapping it onto the small screen – Rayman Origins. And dare I say it, though it's nearly the same game, it's actually better than its big brother.
Rayman Origins opens with Rayman and his friends, chilling at the Snoring Tree, which is located in the Glade of Dreams, musically snoring away. But their tooting disturbs the granny in the Land of the Livid Dead. So, in retaliation to the snoring, she sends forth evil creatures called Darktoons, snatching up Electoons, and capturing Betilla and her sisters - Mass hysteria ensues. And now it's up to Rayman and his friends – Globox, and the Teensies to kinda put right what they sorta put wrong… you know, it's because of their snoring that they're in this mess to begin with.
As Rayman or one of his friends, you'll race, hop, and bop through 60 intricately hand-drawn levels. The game starts out simple enough, but as you progress things get more and more challenging. You'll start out with nothing but your bounce, but as you progress through levels and rescue Betilla and her nymph sisters, you'll be rewarded with new abilities that you can use to breeze through each stage. The flying ability is extra helpful. And while each level offers up enemies you can thrash, you'll mostly face off against the environment such as pitfalls, spikes, platforms that drop, vines, gusty winds, electrical storms and other assortment of dangerous obstacles. As for the enemies you'll face, they can be defeated with a direct attack/slap/punch or a bounce. You're only given one life, but there are hearts you'll find floating about that will allow you to take a hit. As you further through each stage, you'll collect golden critters known as Lums; Lums are used to free additional Electoons other than the ones you'll rescue at the end of each stage; once the level is complete and you've collected a specific amount of Lums, you'll free an Electoon. You can increase how many Lums you can collect if you find a Lum King or a golden skull coin. Enemies also release Lums when they're defeated and if you're able to hit them while they're in their defeated, inflated state, you'll score another Lum. Back to the Electoons, They can be found at the end of each level, all caged up, needing you to defeat a set amount of enemies to free them. You can also find them hidden throughout the stages by listening for the "help me"; If you hear that, you're close. Electoons are also freed by completing time trials; you're given a specific time to reach a certain goal. Freeing specific amounts of Electoons also open up "chase levels", where the object is to chase down a treasure chest that contains a ruby tooth. Collect em all and you'll gain access to "The land of the Livid Dead". Unlike its bigger console brother, Rayman Origins on the Vita is a single player adventure, but still offers up the same challenges and fun. To replace the missing multiplayer, Ubisoft has added a "ghost mode" that allows you to compete against your friends in time trials, attempting to beat their best score.
So after spending some time with Rayman and his buddies, it's time to give my verdict in the TOV Breakdown.
First off, if we're talking about Rayman, we gotta talk about the graphics because, oh man, do they shine (with many thanks to the PSV's high resolution and graphic engine)! I'm talkin simply GEORGEOUS to look at! The characters are 2D, cel-shaded masterpieces that look like little cartoons. Animation is very fluid and controls are spot on perfect. The backdrops will make you take a pause to behold in their beauty and you'll be thrown for a loop by the foreground animation (at least I was). The game starts out easy enough, but as you progress, the difficulty increases. But it's not that crazy "toss you're Vita, fuck this game" kinda challenge. Each level is more of a learning experience; as you die, replaying the level gets easier and it feels quite rewarding. One of the craziest challenges I've faced are the chase levels, but it's also frantic and fun. The music is a huge plus as it's very cartoony and also fits perfectly with each stage. Finally, I've tried the console version and while I like it enough, I also feel that the multiplayer aspect of the title can get… a little out of hand. But as a single player experience, it's perfect! Overall, Rayman Origins is the perfect combination of graphics, gameplay, and a deep level of exploration that will have you running back for more.
Rayman Origins for the Playstation Vita is available now in flash card format or downloaded through the Playstation Store. This is a game that's not only beautiful to look at, but also very imaginative and loads of fun; I highly recommend picking this one up. And out of TOV 5 stars I'm giving Rayman Origins a perfect 5 and it's been Valkor tested, TOV Approved!