The Vita launch titles include a lot of ports of games previously released on other platforms. Some are forgettable, others are good, and then there are a few that are absolutely great. I would position Rayman Origins as not only the best port, but also one of the best platformers of all time (and no, I haven’t played them all). This is the type of thing that happens when you combine exceptional gameplay and unbelievably gorgeous presentation.
There’s a cute, albeit fairly typical, story behind Rayman Origins. Essentially a dark force suddenly threatens to overtake the Glade of Dreams. Rayman and his friend Globox and two wizards are tasked with saving the day. You can switch between these playable characters at the Glade of Dreams. Each character plays similarly, and all gain new abilities as you play through the 60+ level story. In addition to classic 2D platforming, characters punch, kick, swim, glide, and shrink to squeeze into tight areas. Each level has five unlockables, or goals. These include completing it within a certain amount of time, rescuing Electoons, consuming so many Lums, and so forth. For each goal you complete, you earn point towards unlocking the next area.
The level design is something to behold, both from a presentation standpoint as well as its playable-design. The adventure begins in a jungle with lush vegetation and water. Rayman and his pals will traverse a variety of locales in this lengthy platforming adventure. Level themes include jungles, deserts, volcanic sites, underwater zones, snow and ice areas, and so on. Each stage within these levels is a pure visual treat thanks to top quality animation — in all characters as well as the vivid backgrounds.
One of the few Vita touch controls in Origins is the ability to zoom in and out with iOS-style pinch controls. In practice this isn’t very useful from a gameplay perspective. However, I was fascinated with the quality of the gameworld, both from an art direction and technical standpoint. I found myself zooming in on new areas fairly routinely and showing my friends and co-workers how magnificent it looked. In addition to the multi-touch to zoom controls, you can also tap the front screen to burst bubbles.
There is not a lot from a purely Vita-control perspective to really bother with if you already have Origins on a console. If you don’t own it though, it plays beautifully on the Vita, but does however lack the couch co-op multiplayer mode. This may or may not be a big deal to you; given that the Vita version is actually about $10 more than its console counterparts right now, it may be best to go for that console version. But, if you plan to play on the go and don’t mind missing out on the co-op fun, the Vita one makes plenty of sense. Additionally, while it may not have the co-op mode, the Vita port uses Near and has unlockable and shareable gifts. There is also a Ghost mode which allows you to compare speed runs of others players zipping through stages. An online leaderboard for stage completion times is on the menu as well.
Even though Rayman is an older platforming series, you don’t have to know a thing about it to get full enjoyment from Origins. The game is also designed to be accessible and rewarding for players of all ages, a difficult feat to accomplish really, but Origins does this superbly. Beyond the memorably awesome presentation, the level design, variety of gameplay elements and mechanics, fun boss fights, balanced difficulty, and the volume of quality content, there is plenty to keep any gamer busy and happy.
Try as I might, I can’t really find a damn thing wrong with this game. This is quite possibly the best platformer I have ever played and it’s easily the best available on the Vita now, and likely for a long time to come.