My return to Rayman Legends in its Definitive Edition form is fundamentally its fourth outing for me, having first experienced it on the Wii U, then the PS4, followed by the Xbox One. With its sudden arrival on the Nintendo Switch, I guess I was the obvious choice to take a look, and I am happy to confirm that, yes, this is Rayman Legends, and yes, this is probably the current definitive version of one of the best platformers of all time, at least if you’re talking about playing on the go as well as at home.
Perhaps one of the key things that I’d forgotten about since last playing it is just how good Rayman Legends looks, and the port to the Switch hasn’t diminished the strength of the game’s artstyle at all, or indeed the game’s performance. The Switch version features the same silky-smooth platforming that the previous editions showcased, though perhaps it’s not too much of a surprise when the Ubi Art Framework engine has merrily scaled through two generations of console and even graced the PS Vita. This is now easily the best way to experience it on the small screen at least, boasting improved performance and added real estate over the Vita, while the much improved resolution compared to the Wii U’s gamepad ensures that handheld gamers are finally seeing the game at its best.
What we do see a return of from the last gen versions of the game is the interactive loading screens which intersperse the beginning of every single level, and on Switch they often seem to take a moment too long. One of the best things about the PS4 and Xbox One versions was the immediacy of jumping from the level gallery into the level itself, and while it’s not really a surprise that this is closer to the Wii U version rather than the newer home systems, it’s still a shame.
At the very outset I was confused to find that the opening levels didn’t offer the option of using the Wii U’s – and Vita’s – touchscreen controlled parts of the game, but they are there. Rather than offer them in the main series of levels, they’ve been separated off into their own Murfy’s Touch section, which you can access when the system is out of the dock. It’s fantastic that this side to the game has returned, especially as Legends started out life as a Wii U exclusive, and frankly to play it without access to the touch enabled levels means you are absolutely missing out. That said, it’s a shame that ultimately you’re now playing these sections twice over.
The Switch version boasts a couple of its own additions, with the primary one being the ability to play local tournaments over wifi in the amusing Kung Foot mode, though it’s probable that more people will end up indulging in two-player matches with the console in tabletop mode. If anything, that’s this version’s biggest strength, and once again the Switch and its diminutive Joy-Con make multiplayer a breeze. You’ll be crowding around the screen thanks to what feels like a slightly too zoomed out view, but this is a genuine example of a platformer that only gets better with friends.
Besides that, the Switch version has been furnished with all of the playable characters drawn from the previous versions, and while that’s hardly essential, it’s at least a further step towards earning that Definitive Edition title.
The thing is, that’s all this is. There aren’t any exclusive levels or any brand new modes to truly set this edition apart from those that preceded it. If you’re only playing at home, you’ll probably find the lack of load times in the PS4 and Xbox One versions make the whole thing flow a lot better, while for me the Wii U edition and its integrated touchscreen controls remain the true way to play. Still, if you’re yet to experience what is absolutely one of the best platforming games of our time, Rayman Legends Definitive Edition is a fantastic amalgam of the versions that have gone before it, setting out its stall as the best handheld version, while still putting in an admirable performance at home.