What exactly is a Rayman? Or should I say who? Your guess is as good as mine. But this armless, legless superstar—with his independently floating hands and feet and roto-prop mop of hair—has been around for a while. And he sure knows how to save the day while keeping gamers well entertained along the way.
You Snooze, You Lose
Rayman Legends, the fifth main title in this platforming franchise, doesn't really worry whether gamers know much of anything about its hero and his wacky group of sidekicks. It simply introduces you to a colorful Glade of Dreams that this goofy gang has kept peaceful and happy for a long, long time. This pretty place has been so serene, in fact, that Rayman and his pals have been asleep on a nearby hilltop for the last 100 years. But, hey, all good naps must come to an end.
It seems that while our heroes have been snoozing, dark cloudy nightmares have blown in and started growing in strength. A bad guy magician has gotten more powerful, too, and he's part of a nefarious plot to hold 10 princesses and hundreds of cute and cuddly teensies captive. It's time to dash, jump, climb, swing, glide, swim and swoop across platforms, through watery depths and over fluffy clouds to best the baddies and set this suddenly off-kilter world aright again.
Rayman starts out with some simple jump and climb challenges, and then slowly graduates from beginning bouncer to able aerialist to seasoned somersaulter as he leaps into newly unlocked chapters. (One really tough level is timed to a rockin' guitar solo and leaves you grinning at its musical, rhythm-based intricacies.) There are a whopping 120 stages to play through—including 40 remastered levels from the previous Rayman Origins game.
No Ray Gun for Rayman
There's no gun blazing or blade slashing for kids to master in Rayman's game. Yes, he and his pals (up to four players can claim a character and simultaneously make their way through any given level) use slaps, kicks, tossed boxing gloves and body slams to best their foes, but the game is more about kinetic timing and momentum than anything close to an ugly beat down. It's mostly a matter of judging your flips and jumps just right so you can hit the right updraft, catapult off a conveniently located group of pigs, or grab the right dangling rope and make it past whatever dangerous pit or outlandish cartoon creature may confront you.
Are those critters and craters scary, you ask? Not really. Later in the game the sharp spikes, whirling saw-blade obstacles, blockades of stacked bones and swirls of fire can feel a little more intense and threatening. And that's especially true when your bopped or poked Rayman misses his mark, swells up like a balloon and pops (over and over again on a tough stretch). But it's all presented with a fun, tap-your-toe score and a cartoony give-it-another-try flair. And even those later level "nightmare" big bosses—which include a fiery netherworld full of dragons, stampedes of glowing-eyed tumbleweed thingies and giant storm-cloud-like monsters—are more an exercise in the comical than the diabolical.
What is Rayman Legends? It's a game of impressively detailed colorful spectacle, packed with fun rewards, ticking clocks and twisting rhythm puzzles. It's one of those titles that will captivate the eyes and button fingers of gamers of all ages—who won't mind a bit that they can't quite figure out what (or who) their limbless hero really is.