Rayman Origins Review: Livin’ la “Vita” Loca

Rayman Origins Review: Livin la Vita LocaHistorically, when a new video game system is launched, publishers tend to devote time and resources porting games from their existing catalog to have a quick presence as a “launch title.”

Rayman Origins has the distinction of being the best game that nobody played. Originally released in November of 2011, Origins found great critical success (deservedly), but sales were flat. So when publisher Ubisoft was putting together their launch lineup, porting the underselling game was a no-brainer. And I’m so glad they did.

Rayman Origins is one of those games that transcends what it is. Yes, it’s a side-scrolling throwback that harkens to the early days of console gaming. But it’s also a full-fledged artistic masterpiece! The graphics are sharp and colorful, especially on the Vita’s OLED screen. The art design is comical, with French influences, and the character designs are innovative, and funny in a twisted, insane kind of way.

Rayman Origins Review: Livin la Vita Loca

On the screen, Rayman runs along platforms, jumping on bad guys, and collecting Lums. One glance at the background shows a living, breathing world that exists as Rayman is doing his thing. And then the foreground comes into focus, and again, there are moths flying around, mysterious shadow creatures climbing up and down trees; the whole screen seems to come alive with movement.

It is breathtaking to behold so many things happening at once, especially on a handheld system like the Vita. Origins doesn’t lose ANY of its beauty in the translation from console to handheld. And that is a good thing.

Play controls don’t utilize the Vita’s new features other than a touch screen menu interface. Most of the action is handled with the left joystick to move and the X button to jump (double tap to float) and the Square button to hit/kick, and the L trigger makes Rayman sprint, which comes into play in certain levels.

Rayman Origins Review: Livin la Vita Loca

Each of the game’s 60+ levels is designed with hidden areas and goals, as any good side-scroller should. The goal of collecting Lums (pronounced “looms,” as in Illuminate) creates an objective list to complete, which also leads to revisiting levels to find everything.

One major difference between the console version and the Vita version is the omission of multiplayer. The consoles allowed for two and four player co-op. Ubisoft did away with that for the Vita release.

Instead, there is a Ghost Mode, a time trial mode that allows you to go back and play each level, racing against a saved “ghost” representing the first time the level was completed. I’ve never been a fan of these type of game modes, and having tried it out, I’m still not. In a game like Origins, with such beautiful artistic expression, it is a crime to rush through and not take in each and every pixel.

Rayman Origins Review: Livin la Vita Loca

The sound design matches the art design in its beauty. The myriad characters of the Rayman universe speak in a cute gibberish that surprisingly fits the design of the character gibbering it. The music is addictive and filled with jungle-like beats and chants. It’s cutesy, but fits the overall feel of the game. Like I said, this game is a masterpiece, both in sight and sound.

The Rayman Origins LiveArea has no features other than the game start screen, along with the standard owner’s manual, browser, and help tag.

Rayman Origins is a perfect launch title for the PS Vita. It doesn’t utilize the touch controls, or the built-in six-axis, but the graphical power of the system is on full display. Ubisoft made an excellent decision rolling Origins back out to help it find a new audience. It is an insane, comical, BEAUTIFUL game that deserves an audience.

Rayman Origins Review: Livin la Vita Loca

If Michangelo had painted the Sistine Chapel, and nobody ever looked up to see it, it would be a crime against art and design. Think of the beauty that people would miss.

I feel the same way about Rayman Origins. With a new system launch, there is no better time for gamers to look up and finally see this amazing game.

Shop for Rayman Origins on Playstation Vita for a discounted price at Amazon.com (February 15, 2012 release date).

Rayman Origins Review: Livin la Vita Loca

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