We’ve been here before. A few times, actually. We’ve had hands on with preview builds, a portion of the full game and naturally we reviewed Rayman Origins when it released late last year on both PS3 and Xbox 360. We even went as far as to vote it 22nd in our list of the Top 100 games releasing in 2012, and with good reason.
You see, Rayman Origins, at its core, is a traditional 2D platformer and perhaps the most charming game we saw last year. Rayman and friends travel across themed levels – each with unique enemies, obstacles and environments – fighting bosses on their way as well as collecting Lums and freeing Electoons in order to save the world, and that’s not to mention all of the other collectibles and gameplay mechanics.
To put it simply, Rayman Origins is one of the best platformers you’ll play and, next month, it’s making its way to Sony’s latest handheld.[drop2]Whilst Rayman Vita may at first seem exactly the same as its console counterpart – and that’s not a bad thing; the visuals are as sharp and colourful as ever and the controls and gameplay are once again sublime – it actually features several improvements that put it above the version released back in November.
One of these new features revolves around a brand new collectible throughout the levels: Relics. These will unlock pieces of a large puzzle, a mosaic, that you can view along with the costumes you’ve unlocked in The Snoring Tree and assembling this mosaic will unlock videos that tell the story of Rayman’s roots and the history of the Glade of Dreams.
You’re even able to share your findings with friends through the Vita’s Near functionality, in the vein of StreetPass Puzzle Swap on the 3DS.
Another feature missing from the home console versions but making an appearance on Sony’s latest handheld is the Ghost mode; which acts as a race of sorts, throughout selected levels that you’ve completed. This removes certain obstacles which would prove annoying and pits Rayman against a spectral version of himself as you compete in order to get the fastest time against your previous best.
Your ghost and best times can then be shared with friends using the Gift mode, which harnesses Near – there’s even leaderboards, and although we weren’t able to see whether these were online or not, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be. I can already sense something of a competitive flare for the TSA community (and the world) if these are to be online. Time trials are exactly what Rayman needed to make it even better and this and the other new features do nothing but improve on the original game.
We’ve all said it many times before, but I’m going to say it again to hammer it right in there: Rayman Origins is one of the most stunning games you’ll see this year. Vita’s impressive screen enhances the already wonderful colour palette and the rich character and environment art alike, making for what is undeniably the most vibrant and distinctive game you’ll see on Vita.
Whilst Rayman Origins featured four player co-op across the home console versions, Rayman on Vita appears to lack anything of the sort; you’re still able to play as the four main characters: Rayman, Globox and the two Teensies that accompany them, but only individually. Hopefully certain sections in the game have been retuned to reflect this, taking the focus off co-op play.[drop]Then there’s the Vita’s screen. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ramble on about the game’s graphics again, instead it’s the touch screen functionality that has been added in to harness the handheld’s new features.
The touch controls are utilised in menu for selecting an option, moving the viewpoint and choosing a level, though it only seems to work when tapping the next level along from where Rayman is standing – you can’t have him travel from the first level to the last with a tap of the screen.
It therefore becomes marginally easier to just flick the stick in the direction of the level you want to play.
Another feature of the touch screen – and one of my favourite new features overall – is the ability to zoom in or out by pinching in order to set how close the camera is to Rayman. This zoom feature really lets people choose their style of play; whether they like seeing the entire area, or being much closer to the action. Zooming in also lets you see the crisp visuals even more clearly; it’s an incredibly useful feature and a real show of why Rayman on Vita works so well.
The touch controls aren’t perfect; it sometimes takes a few taps to get it working as you like, but it’s essentially a flawless game and the best version of Rayman Origins we’ve seen. It takes everything from the game we’ve already played – bar the co-op mode – refines it and then puts it in the palm of our hands with several new features, making the perfect platforming experience and an essential game for your new handheld.