It’s no secret that I love side-scrolling platformers, and so it should be no surprise that Rayman Origins was one of my top games of 2011. So naturally Rayman Legends was one of my top games at E3 2012, especially with the introduction of asymmetrical gameplay elements involving the WiiU GamePad and way the new player-controlled character, Murfy, interacts with the levels. Honestly, I’ve got to say that the new co-op and WiiU GamePad gameplay really enhanced what was already a solid experience.
For players using more standard controllers (Erica had a WiiU Pro Controller), the gameplay is largely identical to Origins. Players run from left-to-right, jumping over gaps and obstacles and onto enemies and socking baddies to take them out so they can rescue the Teensies from their cages and make it to the finish. It’s all very familiar on the surface, except with a nice HD polish that goes way beyond what we saw on the Wii version. If you loved Origins, you definitely want this game for its surface-level elements alone. (Who would argue with more content?)
Where the game really shines, though, is in its use of the WiiU GamePad. The GamePad player controls Murfy, Rayman’s flying bug-like ever-grinning friend. If you’ve played Co-Star Mode in Super Mario Galaxy 2, the concept is very similar - except incorporated in a much better and more natural way. Murfy can do a number of things for the other players (up to four using various WiiU controllers), but here are some of the ones showcased in the demo level we played.
He’s controlled primarily by the touch screen. You point at things and he flies over to them; you drag your finger across the screen and he flies along the path you trace. What makes this really cool is that you still see the same stuff that other players see in crisp 480p.
Murfy’s main purpose is to assist the player in interacting with certain elements of the levels. At the beginning of the stage we found a carrot-like enemy that Murfy could pull up out of the ground (with a gesture on the touch screen) to create a pillar that Rayman could wall jump off of to reach a suspended cage. Later on he could wake up a sleeping hill (yes, you heard me right) to prompt it to move out of the way of a hidden door. He can cut through ropes with a flick to drop or raise certain level elements, some of them hazards that other players should avoid, some of them helpful platforms that they can use to reach things they couldn’t have otherwise. He can activate trails of floating Lums and send them into a spree by tracing along them, causing some to pop up where they wouldn’t have otherwise and doubling the value of others. There’s just so many ways that Murfy interacts with the level progression, it’s absolutely insane.
The most drastic of his influences on the game world are some of the most interesting, and really made the demo for me. Like in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the player controlling Murfy can “grab” certain objects and “twist” them by tilting the pad to manipulate their orientation relative to the rest of the level. This level of control applies to a wide range of objects, from simple see-saw platforms to giant twistable obstacle courses where one wrong move on the part of any player could spell disaster. It was a really good example of how multiple players communicating together to solve a complex task can consist of something other than the sheer chaos we often see with multiplayer efforts in platformers. The obstacle course I mentioned was one of the most satisfying moments of the demo. Gimmicky? Yes. Fun? Also yes.
There isn’t a lot for me to add here that Alex hasn’t already brought up. The key to playing this game with other people is communication. The pair ahead of us that tried the game died multiple times and missed many of the Teensies. Even though it was hard to hear, Alex and I were able to communicate actions so that I, who was controlling Rayman, didn’t die. Murfy really is an important companion while playing the game, and if each player tried to simply do their own thing, many of the puzzles would be impossible.
Unlike Alex, I was using the Wii U Pro controller. It is a basic controller any gamer that already owns an HD console will feel at home with. I actually haven’t played Rayman Origins yet, except for the free demo on the Nintendo 3DS. It was all I needed though, for it took about ten seconds for me to get all of the controls down. It had the classic feeling that I’m sure other Wii U titles will use.
A prime example of teamwork is the twistable obstacle courses that Alex mentioned earlier. I was at his mercy, and a single wrong twist of his Wii U controller would have killed me. We had to be patient and careful, and it only took us maybe three tries to complete the death trap. Murfy was also helpful in ways besides puzzles, because he can move certain objects into Rayman’s reach and stun/confuse enemies. Alex was able to help me fight off a hoard of enemies by knocking them around while I was occupied with the closest enemies.
I am really excited for this title, and now plan on buying Rayman Origins so that I can further enjoy Rayman Legends when it comes out on the Wii U.