Game Rant's Anthony Mole reviews Rayman: Origins (PS Vita)
Rayman: Origins was one of 2011's greatest surprises - especially for those who miss the golden days of platformers. Now, the title has landed on the PlayStation Vita. Does it hold up compared to its console counter parts?
Yes. Yes it does.
When people talk about Rayman: Origins, the first thing they're likely to bring up are the gorgeous visuals. Thankfully, the art style is just as vivid as ever on the Vita, the visuals really stand out, and if there's one game that should be used to showcase the system's OLED screen, it's Rayman. The game also maintains a solid framerate throughout, even when the screen is filled with enemies. In terms of load times, it does take a while to get from the Vita's home screen to Origin's menu. However levels load in just a few seconds - which is actually a shame as it's pretty fun to control Rayman during the loading screens.
The game also makes use of the Vita's touch screen, including multi touch support. As in the console versions hitting an enemy will cause them to balloon and float - instead of merely jumping on them players can tap the touch screen to make them pop. Needless to say, it's very smile inducing.
Lums (small yellow creatures Rayman needs to collect) are also sometimes trapped in bubbles. If a group of these lums are out of reach, all players have to do is, you guessed it, tap the screen to pop them. In some cases this may require quick reflexes, as lums can quickly float away.
What makes Rayman: Origins work so well on the Vita is that it doesn't unnecessarily force hardware features on the player. There's no shoehorned sixaxis controls or rear-touch pad mini games. Even the ability to pop enemies with the touch screen is completely optional. It's just a game focused on fun - and that's why it works so well. The only time players have to use touch controls are to collect hidden relics but this never really interferes with the gameplay.
Unfortunately, the Vita version of Rayman: Origins does not retain the four player co-op feature of its console brethren. In fact, there's no co-op whatsoever. Yes, it'd be impossible for multiple people to play on one Vita, but with the system's ability for ad-hoc and wi-fi gaming the actual absence of co-op is really disheartening. It certainly doesn't ruin the experience, but it's definitely a point against purchasing the handheld version over the console version.
To make up for the lack of co-op, players can partake in the new Ghost Mode. Ghost Mode has players race against their ghosts in sections of previously played levels, in order to get the best time possible. Aside from the prospective trophies, there's really no point in playing it, unless you're an absolute fan of time trials. It's nice that Ubisoft put something in there, but really it could have been left out with no real damage to the final product - and it certainly doesn't make up for the missing co-op component.
In terms of gameplay, Rayman: Origins holds up pretty well. One issue that may bug players is Rayman's glide ability. By holding down the 'X' button players can make Rayman (or whichever unlockable character they're playing as) glide. While the ability does come in handy, it can be pretty strenuous on the thumb to have to hold down the button for long periods of time - especially during more glide-centric levels. This is mostly due to the shape of the Vita, and it's made worse if players are constantly holding down the left shoulder button to sprint. Just remember you don't always have to hold down these buttons all of the time and chances are hand cramps will be slightly less common.
Rayman: Origins is still one of the best platformers this generation. Everything is expertly crafted, from the little audio cues to the gorgeous visuals, it's hardly a game players will want to pass up. Is it worth double-dipping? Probably not, there just isn't enough content to justify a second purchase, no matter how good the game is. But for those who are trying out the game for the first time, it's easily one of the best experiences on the Vita, and players will definitely be in for a treat.
Rayman: Origins is available now for the PlayStation Vita. It's also available for the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii, with a PC and 3DS version to follow.
Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyMole