Welcome to Easter Eggs, where the TA Team shines the spotlight on games that many gamers might have missed, perhaps hidden away behind the millionth copy of Call of Duty or FIFA. Much like a gamer who finds an Easter Egg hidden away in a game and proceeds to trumpet it from the highest hills and forums, the TA Team is going to be featuring these Easter Egg games on the front page for all to see.
Every now and again, a title comes along that really stands out against the mold of the other titles of the day. While we frequently think of these titles as smaller, indie offerings, a major publisher will sometimes pull through with such a title, and such was the case with the release of Rayman Origins
by Ubisoft. Though the game was released as a retail title in November of 2011, the original concept for the game was to be an episodic XBLA offering. The first episode was set for Christmas of the previous year, with the rest to be released throughout 2011.
Christmas 2010 eventually came and went and Rayman Origins
was nowhere to be found, seemingly forgotten by the powers-that-be at Ubisoft. Then, in May 2011, a simple tweet notified us that pre-orders were being taken and, we could infer from that, that Origins
had been bumped up to a full retail release. The question then became just how well would Rayman
, a colorful, traditional, 2D side-scrolling platformer, perform at retail against the gray-and-brown scale first- and third-person shooters dominating the current gaming market.The Basics
is near a masterclass in most respects, one thing it is (somewhat understandably) short on is story. As it turns out, Rayman really likes to sleep, as do his other buddies who inhabit the glade of dreams. The problem is that their snoring is so loud that it causes an old granny from the Land of the Livid Dead to become extremely angry and release Darktoons into the Glade of Dreams. This old granny also captured the electoons who inhabit the glade, as well as the five nymphs who protect it, making the Glade of Dreams a dangerous place. Now it is up to Rayman to free the nymphs and the electoons and restore peace to the glade. This sets up the game and gives us pretty much all we need to know where story is concerned. The story likely presents the games biggest issue: it is just enough to set up why Rayman is battling his way through various stages and nothing more. Thankfully, that's all the story really needs to do.Origins
features over 60 levels spread across ten worlds, the majority of which will task you with freeing electoons from cages, collecting electoons, and speed runs. Each world also features a chest challenge. In these stages, which you unlock by collecting a certain amount of electoons, you play a stage where you have to chase down a treasure chest to get the prize contained there in - one of ten ruby teeth. These are the most difficult portions of the game, as from the very first moment you have to time your jumps and gauge your flight time and landings with precision in order to reach your goal. When you finally have that winning run, the feeling of accomplishment is well worth the frustration you may experience. Collecting all the ruby teeth also grants you access to one final level, which is easily the most difficult in the game. You get a pretty sizable achievement for completing it, so it's worth the trouble!The Hook
It may be hard for those of you who started your gaming habits on the Xbox 360, or even the Original Xbox or PlayStation, to fathom, but once upon a time, the primary game type you’d see was the side-scrolling platformer. The most obvious and well-known example would be the earlier Super Mario Bros.
games. Rayman Origins
takes that classic formula and really does very little to modify the gameplay itself, but amps up the look and feel so much that Origins
feels just as current-gen as the titles it shared shelf-space with in November 2011.
The game does a particularly good job introducing you to Rayman's skills - wall-running, gliding, punching, and so on - in an intuitive and gradual manner. You don't feel overwhelmed as you learn new tricks, but eager to set them to task so you can grab that just out-of-reach electoon. The levels are crafted in such a way that none is particularly long, so it's a perfect game for throwing in for half an hour while in between sessions or killing a little time... in theory. Chances are, you'll get so wrapped up in trying to find that last electoon, or beating the necessary speed run time, that many hours will pass before you finally put the controller down. This is a testament to the phenomenal controls, and just how easy the gameplay is to pick up.
You can play multiplayer with up to four people. Achievements will only pop on the primary account, and MP is local only. It is helpful to have a second player, as they can help make a platform for Rayman to reach those hard to reach spots, but the action is dictated by the direction the first player is moving in. This isn't to say that the local MP isn't worth trying out. It's fun in that you'll find yourself getting distracted from the gameplay and just slapping your friends silly, and there's nothing wrong with that.
What it all comes down to is that the game is good, really good. It looks pretty, sounds awesome, and controls great. It's also fun with friends; a perfect recipe for platforming success.The Achievements
If you take away one thing from this writing, please let it be this.
Don’t let the game’s TA Score scare you away.Origins
is bright and colorful. It looks (and is) kid-friendly but, unfortunately, that sometimes creates an impression that the achievement list should be easy, too. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s by no means impossible to score a completion with the title. Only 5 of the achievements are story-related, but several other achievements, like defeating 50 enemies, will be unlocked naturally during gameplay.
In terms of GamerScore itself, the game is very backloaded. The list contains 36 achievements, but 400 of that GamerScore is locked up in what will likely be the final five achievements you pop. These achievements involve collecting electoons, time trials, and the completion of rather difficult optional stages. Yes, you will occasionally be frustrated by the time trials and optional levels, but they’re the kind of achievements that really give you a sense of accomplishment once you earn them. They’re also worth a ton (80G a piece!) and the TA ratio for each is over 2.0 for all five of those end-game achievements. Origins
' 1000G is worth 1890TA, with that final 400G accounting for 974TA.The Stats
As of this writing, 22,165 TA'ers have given Rayman
a try, making it one of the more tracked Easter Eggs, and 2,577 of those gamers have completed it, which equates to an 11.64% completion rate. The game has no DLC, so every bit of its 1890TA is reflective of the core game’s achievements list.
The community has given the game a 4.3 rating across over 2000 votes. It also was the runner-up for TA’s Best Platformer of 2011. This placement isn't too shabby at all when you consider the winner of the category that year was Valve’s brilliant Portal 2
(a game which is tracked by over three time as many people as are tracked for Origins!
). The love for Origins
is also evident on Metacritic
, where it has received an 87 average over 53 reviews. The PriceRayman Origins
can currently be snapped up on the Xbox LIVE Games Store
for £9.99 / $14.99. You can also generally find the retail copy new on store shelves or online via your favorite game retailer for $15 - $20. Doing a run of the game without attempting all the achievements is around a 10 to 15 hour venture and you’ll enjoy every minute of it, especially at that price. Going for all the achievements will increase completion time depending on your skill level.The VerdictOrigins
isn't just good; it excels at almost every category. The graphics are stunningly beautiful and prove that you don't need to be running millions of polygons to produce impressive imagery. The music is catchy and upbeat, and you'll sometimes find yourself whistling along as you repeat levels to do a speed run or wrap-up collectibles. Most notably, and importantly, the controls are just about perfect. In a platformer, there is almost nothing worse than sloppy controls. Poor hit detection, floating once you stop moving, and other complaints of the like will transform a beautifully produced platformer into a wreckage of a game. In Origins
, whether you like it or not, you can almost never blame the controller for that lost life - it's all on you. This is also why completing those particularly tricky stages leave you feeling rewarded as opposed to feeling like you simply survived something.
Long story short, pick up this gem of a game if you're able. While you're at it, get Rayman Legends
, too, so Ubisoft is encouraged to make more of these in the future.
If there's a game you'd like to see featured in Easter Eggs, be sure to let us know in the comments!