One year after release for home consoles and nine months after the Vita version, Rayman Origins arrives for the 3DS. It’s the same as the other versions, meaning it has the same great visual and audio style and old-school-with-some-new-twists platforming. The game’s style can’t make up for the fact that it simply doesn’t work as well on the 3DS as it does on other platforms though, and the result is an experience that misses the mark.
The game begins as Rayman and his pals are enjoying a nap in the Glade of Dreams, their snores combining to create a musical rhythm. The Livid Dead living beneath the surface don’t care for the beat though, and they invade, threatening the health of the Glade. It’s up to Rayman and his pals to fight back the Dead and restore emotional balance to the Glade, before their world starts to unravel.
The majority of the game is classic 2D platforming. Using Rayman or Globox, you run and jump your way across levels, attacking enemies and avoiding danger. Care is required, because one hit will kill you, although you can collect hearts that will allow you to absorb an extra hit. Occasionally scattered throughout the game are flying levels, where you can take to the sky and fire at enemies, and even inhale them to use as projectiles. As you progress thorough the game, you will rescue Nymphs who, in return, will grant you powers like hovering or shrinking to fit through narrow openings.
In addition to enemies, each level is populated by Lums, little yellow balls of energy that you can collect. Hidden in each stage are three Electoons, creatures that hold the Glade together. At the end of each level you can earn up to two more Electoons depending on how many Lums you have collected, for a total of five available per level. Collecting them allows you to rebuild connections so you can reach new areas of the world. Collecting Electoons also allows you to unlock additional playable characters, but the differences are purely cosmetic.
The visual style and variety in Rayman Origins is excellent. Each area has its own particular look that sets it apart, without ever feeling out of place. Some levels and enemies feel like an impressionist painting come to life. The musical score is also great, and compliments the design and feel of the levels with funky tracks that fit perfectly. The visuals and audio are a big part of the game, and are what makes it stand out from other platformers.
For as good as the visual style is, it’s an awful shame that it is so cramped on the 3DS screen. Rather than being optimized or in any way designed for the 3DS, this is simply port of the console version, and it plays like something intended for a TV and not a handheld screen. The scale in a lot of areas feels off, the most noticeable being the chest chases, where the view zooms out so far that I couldn’t even make out what kind of enemies I was dealing with. The zoom out is required for the fast platforming of those sections, but it simply doesn’t work on a screen of that size. Likewise, tiny Rayman is very easy to lose in a screen full of enemies and environmental challenges.
The game’s design doesn’t help the feeling that it was meant to be played on a home console. Load screens, which should be should be rare or nonexistent on a cartridge-based handheld game, appear constantly. 3D is available in levels, but completely absent in other areas. It’s not an issue with the 3D itself – where available it looks nice, and certainly isn’t required anywhere, but rather it’s an issue with the consistency. Watching the 3D light constantly go on and off is a reminder that this game was designed for an entirely different system.
Rayman Origins is a unique, well designed platformer with loads of personality that simply doesn’t feel right on the 3DS. From the design to the noticeable drop in graphics quality (even when compared to the Vita version), everything points to the idea that this is better played somewhere else. My strongest feeling after playing the game is that I want to go play it on a console, so I can enjoy it the way it was originally intended. The spirit is still here, and it’s not a bad game, but you should play it somewhere else if at all possible.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.