I'll admit it. I have never played a Rayman game in my life. The Raving Rabbids series of games didn't really spark my interest in doing so either. But over the course of months, I've heard nothing but good things about the upcoming Rayman Origins game. And shortly after its release, nothing but great scores and reviews of this seemingly old-school throwback to the retro platformers of old. (but souped up for today's playing clientele!) I saw it for the Wii for 29.99 just after Black Friday and I thought to myself: "Why not?" So I took it home and popped it in and playing straight through the next two days getting about 90% of everything the game had to offer. And all I got to say is: Wow, that was the most fun I've had in a long time!
The artstyle is gorgeous animated graphics, supposedly hand-drawn and animated in-game. Bright colorful hues abound in this game making it cheery (for the most part) and quite agreeable to kids. For the most part, the platforming is quite easy and you could easily beat the game within a day or two with no real problems minus a jarring difficulty spike towards the end. But nothing some skill, determination and some practice will solve. No...the real challenge comes from getting 100%, opening up the secret SECRET level and rushing Time Attack challenges. That is where the game turns from relatively easy to brutally punishing. I believe I spent the better of 2 hours just trying to beat the Time attack on 'Mecha No Mistake!' level. My wrists were screaming after that ordeal!
The flow of the game is actually quite smooth. They introduce each new concept one at a time, give you a level or two to sort out how to effectively use said concept/gimmick before introducing yet another one a level later. Speaking of gimmicks, every single level has one and no two are exactly the same. Each 'world' has another world connected to it (at the midway point of the game, you'll understand this) which basically has levels that expand upon the original world's gimmicks and adds something new to it so you're not just playing a remixed version of an existing level. Its hard to explain, but its quite ingenious and makes each and every level (60+!!) unique and fun to play.
To open up the final, true secret level, you need 10 sacred teeth. To achieve this, you have to chase down 10 runaway chests that will stop at nothing to prevent you from bashing them open! You basically have to hurl yourself forward through an obstacle course bent on your death and destruction! There is no slowing down and one small mistake means instant failure. Once you get the knack for these levels, they are actually some of the most fun levels in the entire game and honestly that I've played in any game for quite some time. I always feel breathless whenever I complete one successfully, it was that exhilirating! The secret level itself, on the other hand, is pure torture and a stark contrast to the rest of the ENTIRE game. It was almost meant for you to NOT be able to beat it all! I must honestly say, once you've unlocked it, consider yourself good with the game unless you want to put yourself through the pain of actually trying to beat it. Hardcore folks need only apply here.
Now one last thing I should mention and it was about play control that I noticed and was worth mentioning. At first I thought the controls were a bit loose and seemed to cause quite a few deaths on my part. But in reality, it was another feature of how the character worked. You see, without the dash button being held down, you can easily make pinpoint leaps and jumps on tiny ledges and platforms. With the dash button held down, you control turns into something a bit more loose and you slide a bit when you try to come to a complete stop. It is worth noting and makes a difference when you are trying to navigate through tricky terrain to NOT always be dashing through it when you want the accuracy to count.
Overall, this is a short game and I completed it within 2 days. Does that make it terrible? Absolutely not! Those were some of the most fun two days I've ever had! And the game is short enough, you can easily come back to it time and time again to replay all those fun levels. There is rarely a bad one in the bunch that isn't worth replaying. (minus that final secret level, blech!) So I heartily recommend this to both Rayman fans and those who never really got into the series. It is a solid platformer that greatly appeals to many skill types and should be quite easy to dive into. I was pleasantly surprised at the great deal I got when I paid for this game my 29.99! A real gem of a platformer!