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Rayman: Origins Review

5
  • VITA

The Vita version of Rayman: Origins may lack a few of the mechanical touches of its console brethren, but in terms of sheer beauty and fun, little is lost in translation.

In my original review of the console versions of Rayman: Origins, I all but called it out as one of the best platformers ever made, and I feel even more strongly about that sentiment now than I even did then. As a 2D reboot of the classically 3D Rayman franchise, Origins combined beautiful, hand-painted visuals with one of the most cleverly paced platformer campaigns put on a disc. Now those very same visuals, and that very same campaign has been placed on a PlayStation Vita cart, and it's actually shocking how well it's fared in translation.

Rayman's on the Vita now, and just as good as ever.
Rayman's on the Vita now, and just as good as ever.

Before we go any further, if you're completely unclear on what Rayman: Origins even is, go read the original review first. Now that you presumably have some understanding of the core tenets of Origins' design, we can discuss what does and does not work in the Vita version.

A surprising amount really does work on the Vita. The full single-player campaign from consoles is here, and it's rather amazing how well-rendered it is. The crispness of the 2D art and animation hasn't been watered down in any noticeable ways. Rayman's goofball movements and the myriad bizarre happenings spread across the game's various worlds still look absolutely beautiful, and in a neat, Vita-specific touch, you can now pinch the screen to zoom in or out. This lets you zoom out to see if any hidden areas are nearby, or simply zoom in to take in some of the more colorfully gorgeous details in the world.

The tight control of the console versions pretty much carries over here, too. That's important, because big swaths of Origins' gameplay require fairly precise timing and movement. As I said previously, it's a challenging game that only toward the very end becomes something more frustratingly difficult, but by the time you get there, your mastery of the controls and Rayman's abilities ought to help salve that a bit. On Vita, there is no reason why that wouldn't hold true as well, as Rayman controls just as well as he did on the previous platforms.

So, what is different, then? For starters, the cooperative multiplayer, which was such a delight on consoles, is now absent. Granted, the cooperative play was essentially an optional bonus for the main story campaign that players could essentially drop in and out of any time they pleased, and it was never online to begin with, meaning there was no netcode for Ubisoft to rejigger for the Vita version's purposes--though to be fair, other Vita launch titles do include local multiplayer functionality of some fashion. Again, the levels never changed in any way during co-op, but the play experience did, since combining abilities among characters often led to new, sometimes far more exciting solutions to existing obstacles. It's a shame, albeit not an unexpected one, that it's been excised here.

The lack of multiplayer is a bummer, but the core experience is still great regardless.
The lack of multiplayer is a bummer, but the core experience is still great regardless.

Perhaps as something of a make-good for the lack of multiplayer, the Vita version's developers included a new ghost mode, for those obsessed players who dig replaying levels for better times and jockeying for leaderboard position. It's a nifty little addition, but it's hardly a suitable replacement for something as great as Origins' co-op play.

On that note, the question now becomes who, specifically, this version of Origins is for. The only real caveats here are whether you'd want to play with friends, or if you've already picked up one of the console versions in the past. If you're new to the game and have no particular interest in playing cooperatively with anyone, ever, then this version is entirely worthwhile. So much of what made Rayman: Origins great on consoles--from the glorious visuals and music on down to the wonderfully crafted gameplay--translate just about perfectly on the Vita. Most importantly, the game is still tons of fun from top to bottom, whether you're playing at home or on the go.

To put it more succinctly: if you already own Rayman: Origins, this is just Rayman: Origins again, and you probably don't need to buy it a second time. If you don't, and are looking for an interesting, single-player-only platformer for your new Sony-branded toy, Rayman: Origins isn't merely recommended; it's necessary.

Alex Navarro on Google+