One of the great things about the PlayStation Vita is its ability to play somewhat faithful ports of existing console games. There is a bit of an asterisk on that — the Vita won’t be playing massive games like Skyrim anytime soon — but titles like fighting games that don’t need much power to generate static backgrounds, are relatively easy. So too, apparently, are 2D scrollers, even ones that look amazing.
Rayman Origins is a port of a console game released last November. When it hit, our own Scott Younker reviewed the game and criticized the retro nature of the game, but lauded the look of it. Now, the Vita version is the same game in almost every regard. Perhaps the remarkable and faithful translation of the graphics to the Vita were enough to impress me, or maybe the side scrolling nature of the game is just better suited for the Vita, especially at the hardware’s launch. Whatever the reason, I find myself somewhat addicted to the Vita version of Rayman Origins.
The game is simple to a fault, and yet can be incredibly complex. It harkens back to the old-school platfomers that were king before the shift to the 3D environments — back when Mario was constantly running to the right and Sonic was still relevant. Rayman Origins has learned from those games, and created a platformer that is exceedingly well thought out. It is a fairly lengthy game, and throughout it all, you can just sense that the developers had a very specific plan for each jump you take, and each new map you play through. There is still no story to go along with the campaign, but that is also something of a staple with these types of games.
The game is designed to look like a cartoon, and it succeeds. The graphics and animations move exceedingly well, and the level design gets progressively more imaginative. The Vita port loses almost nothing from the technical side in the adaptation, and the OLED screen makes the handheld version of Rayman Origins look almost better at times. Graphically, this is one of the best-looking games on the Vita, and gameplay wise, it is one of the most fun.
The switch to the handheld system isn’t quite perfect, though. Ubisoft did try to work in the Vita’s touchscreen, and you can now use it to collect items or pop enemies that have turned into balloons. It makes collecting items much easier, but it isn’t a huge factor. Still, it adds to the game rather than detracts, so it works. There is also the integration of the Near software, which comes pre-loaded on the Vita. As you play the game and wander around with your Vita in the real world, you can share data with other Vita users playing Rayman. Through this you can unlock additional levels, which you can then use with the other new feature, ghost mode. This is basically a time trial that you can share, and it is available on all levels to add a touch of competition with others gamers.
The biggest disappointment in this port is the loss of the drop-in multiplayer, which has been removed from the game completely. You can still play as the other characters if you like, but the co-op play is gone. It is a shame to see it go, but there is more than enough to keep you occupied for a long, long time in the single-player campaign.
Rayman Origins was a fun game on the consoles, and it has translated perfectly over to the Vita. The loss of the co-op was a shame, but the game itself looks better than most, and the main campaign was an incredible single-player experience to begin with.
If you played the console version, then you will be impressed by the transfer. You will also be playing exactly the same game, though; so unless you loved the game so much that you demand to be able to take it with you, then you may want to save your money. For those that have a soft spot in their hearts for old-school platformers, Rayman Origins is a must-own launch title for the Vita.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita on a copy provided by Ubisoft)