by Liam Edwards
previewed on X360
A Time Gone By
Gaming in the 90s was dominated predominantly by platforming titles. From the likes of Mario to other side-scrolling 2D adventures like Jazz Jackrabbit, the market was full of titles that made you jump between platforms. And, in 1995, a breakthrough title for the PlayStation defined why platforming seems to be here to stay. Rayman was a hit title from French developers Ubisoft. The game was released to both public and critical acclaim, becoming the best-selling Playstation game of all time in the UK.
It was praised for the inventiveness of the games' character and the outstanding level design. The animations were beautiful and the art team had done splendid work, bringing the best visuals possible out of the Playstation at the time. Despite all this brilliance, Rayman's main selling point was its take on the platforming genre and the use of the mechanics around those types of games.
Now, 16 years later, with 4 main games and a numerous quantity of spin-off titles confined to the annals of history, Rayman is a franchise that is a shadow of its former self. Platforming is a dying genre. For years, the simplicity of jumping between platforms and knocking enemies out slowly declined alongside the rise of other genres. But with the continual success of the Mario titles, and the success of small indie titles such as Super Meat Boy and Braid, platformers are still hanging on. But for many years, Rayman was certainly out of the game.
Now, In The Year 2011...
At this year's E3, Ubisoft announced that they were producing a new Rayman title. It wasn't exactly an exciting announcement due to Rayman's certain lack of particularly stellar titles in recent years. But the gameplay that was demoed for Rayman Origins changed that feeling for many - people came away with the feeling and hope that Rayman could once again feature in a game as good as the original.
Rayman Origins is a new adventure for Rayman, but is actually a prequel to his first title. The game details the events that led to the first game, and details the early life of Rayman, with all the events that happened to him. He is joined by three companions: his fateful friend Globox returns, joined by two characters named Teensies. Rayman and his companions are living in a world called The Glade of Dreams, where the story for Origins is set. The Glade of Dreams was created by an over-arching character named the Bubble Dreamer, a creature that takes on different forms through-out the new game. Anything the Bubble Dreamer dreams becomes a reality in the Glade of Dreams, but it seems he has been having a recent bout of nightmares. It isn't very good when that happens. Within these nightmares, characters named Electoons are becoming Darktoons, and dark creatures are being spawned all over the glade. So, as you will have already expected, it is up to Rayman to stop the Bubble Dreamer's nightmares and save the Electoons.
The story may seem interesting enough, but players don't buy Rayman titles for the story, they come back time and time again for the fantastic platforming. Let's face it, for Rayman Origins to be a hit and put the character with no-arms back on the gaming map, the platforming needs to shine.