Ubisoft's elected to make a full retail release out of Rayman Origins. Away from the wonderful nature of Wikipedia, the Crave crew argued over whether or not this has always been the case. The majority of us can almost swear that this hand-drawn, 2D side-scroller was once meant to be released as a digital download.
Erik, Mike and I (Joey) actually had a chance to play through one of the demo levels for this game during our time on the show floor. We picked the ice level, knowing it would likely be the most challenging out of the bunch. When we're shown a four player, cooperative romp from any publisher under any brand, one of the first questions we always ask relates to the game's playability. Is it meant to challenge gamers? Is it meant to be a breezy, easy ride? Or, even better, is it meant to make everyone want to murder their closest couch mate?
Rayman Origins looks to fall somewhere between "challenging" and "couch murder." Well, that's assuming every level is as difficult as the romp through this winter un-wonderland. We met our demise by way of pits, spiked enemies and other obstacles.
The game moves quickly, but every bit of motion is packed with a level of creativity and goofy artistry unlike a lot of what we've seen on the market today. Characters look exceptionally silly, in the best way possible, and their animations match the mood of the experience. Rayman Origins is a cross between art and joke that works.
Live and death are handled much in the same manner they are in games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii. If you die, you can float as a bubble to be popped by your nearest surviving party member. If everyone finds themselves in bubble form, the round of play, collectively ends as a failure. This system of constantly flipping between aid and competition works well in practice, again, and is one that we welcome.
Finally, and this may have been a product of the fact that we were campaigning our way through an ice level, Rayman Origins is speedy as shit. We were in constant motion, barreling through (or, unfortunately, into) obstacles quickly. As far as quick platformers go, this one feels like it has the juice to get up and move. Sometimes, that speed is an excellent lead into addiction.
Rayman Origins is shaping up to be an awesome exercise in 2D gaming. For that, we applaud it. The Crave crew left the demo pumped to snag the full release.