Rayman Origins Review


It’s time to look at one of the recent Rayman games. You could make a strong case that this is the one which finally put Rayman back on the map. His games had ceased for quite a bit, but this one made him mainstream again. Although, since the character has vanished once more we will need more games like this one. It’s a fun enough title. While lacking some of the charm of other side scrollers it is nonetheless a solid title for all fans of the genre.

The game starts off with Rayman and his friends lounging around on someone’s tree. The poor old lady can’t even think straight with how much noise they are making so she grabs her buddies and goes to confront Rayman. Rayman quickly turns this into a battle, but the senior citizens defeat him and his friends. Rayman must now save his friends and stop whatever heroic/evil plan the old lady has in store. The question you must ask yourself is if you should root for Rayman…or the old lady?

Naturally the gameplay is pretty fun. It’s your classic 2D platformer with a few unique items thrown in to match Rayman’s style. You can throw punches as well as hold for a charged hit. You can glide with your head that functions as a helicopter and in general have a lot of good movement options. You must get to the end of the level and free whatever fairies are trapped. However, just beating the levels will not be enough as you’ll quickly figure out.

There are a lot of roadblocks in the story that serve as a way to artificially extend the game. You need to collect a great number of spirit orbs in order to beat the game. This means that you must either replay most levels at least once or grab a bunch of them during the level. The latter is easier, however you may enjoy each level a little less with how much longer it takes to complete them. I never like when a game forces you to explore like this. You’re effectively penalized for being too good at clearing the levels. I will say that this does enact a heavy toll on the game and is one of the reasons why it falls short of the other platformers.

The other reason is that the story is just pretty bad. I’m talking Crash levels of bad. Rayman is actually not as likable as Crash which I’m shocked about. He’s quick to violence and the guy doesn’t seem to care about anyone other than himself. It really doesn’t help you think that he is even remotely heroic. I have my doubts after this game. You never get invested into the plot because it is virtually nonexistent and Rayman is too annoying to root for. The game also gets a little iffy with the character designs, adding some fanservice to the fairies that Rayman is saving. I can certainly say that this was not quite how I pictured Rayman to play out.

Still, as I mentioned the core gameplay is fun which is good. The levels are actually pretty solid. If you don’t care about reaching the ending and just play each level straight through you’ll enjoy them a lot more. They only drag on when you have to explore them. As a result, you’ll really look forward to the boss fights which show up during the final levels and the aerial stages. Those are always very short and are fun to get through. It’s the optimal experience if you ask me. Adding in a secondary gameplay style almost always works out for the best so Rayman did a good job there.

Another good thing Rayman did was add the unlimited lives feature. I feel as though this is immensely helpful for the levels given how long they are. You’ll probably die quite a few times so you’ll be glad that you don’t have to backtrack too far. That would get very old very quickly.

I thought the graphics were pretty good. The character designs are on point and the levels are good looking. It’s not as colorful as other games, but that’s likely intentional to get that slightly grittier. I gotta give the soundtrack a thumbs down though. I’m not sure what the game was going for with the various lyrical themes that showed up but they really didn’t mesh well with the game. It got worse whenever you would die since you’d have to hear the theme yet again.

As far as replay value goes, Rayman has quite a bit at its disposal. As you collect orbs new levels open up and you get more unlockables. You get new costumes, characters, etc. Naturally you can also go after all of the PS3 trophies to really try and put yourself at the top. As the story itself is already longer than many platformers this makes for a game with a great amount of content that will last for quite a while.

Overall, Rayman Origins is a mixed bag. As a game it fulfills it’s job of having quality gameplay but aside from that it ends up faltering in the home stretch. It’s not the most complete game so you just have to decide why you are playing it. If you are here for the gameplay then you are all set. If it’s for the overall experience then you may want to look elsewhere. Either way I’ll look forward to the next Rayman title as I feel like it should improve upon the flaws of this one.

Overall 6/10

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Rayman 10th Anniversary Review


It’s time to take a quick look at the Rayman collection I recently beat for the GBA. This one made the interesting decision of merging the first and third games in the series. I don’t really understand why they would skip the 2nd game. Maybe it just wasn’t formatted in a way that would be easy to port to the GBA the way that the others were. Either way, it’s no big loss since I’m guessing it should be rather similar to the others. This is my first real venture into the Rayman series so that was neat. I’d say that it holds up pretty well though the third game definitely more so than the first. If you are a sidescroller fan then you need to check Rayman out.

The first game is pretty intense with how difficult it is. You get 10 continues and you have to be sure to not lse a life too easily. If you died too much on a level consider restarting your system right away so you can win without that hapening. I just barely made it as I finished the game with no continues left. Of course, if I was going for the secret ending by finding all cages then that would have been another matter entirely. The controls are good, but I can’t say as much for the level designs. There are a lot of blind jumps and cheesy sections where the game just stacks the deck against you. That’s fine, but then we should get unlimited continues like in most games. I never like when the game has a limit and then you just have to start over. That doesn’t seem very fair and will just become tedious after a while.

The plot of the game is a little weak though and that’s one thing that seems true for both titles so far. It’s just that Rayman himself isn’t nearly as interesting as most of the other colorful protagonists in these kind of games. I’m assuming he will get more personality soon but right now the cast doesn’t really jump off the page so to speak. They’re all just going through the motions so to speak. Since you don’t even get to see the ending without getting the 100+ cages then it’s not even much of a satisfying end. This game is fortunately supported by the next one.

Rayman 3 is a noticeable improvement in just about every way. For starters the gameplay is a lot faster and smoother. You really feel like you are in control this time around. None of the enemies scare you and if they ever start to get a little rowdy you can quickly take them out. Your lives are quite abundant and there is no limit on retries so no worries there. There is also more of an actual story this time as we get text boxes and the villains have more of a goal. The story still isn’t at the point where it could actually be considered as a selling point, but it’s getting closer which is the important thing. Just a few more steps and it will be ready for the big leagues. Regardless, this is a title that I could recommend a lot sooner than the other one. It’s just a solid side scroller and one that holds up well as it isn’t clunky.

The graphics for both games look pretty good. Naturally the 3rd game is a little brighter and more detailed, but it’s not a huge difference. Both games are quite clear and you can tell that effort was put behind them. Likewise the soundtracks for both games are pretty similar. There are some memorable tunes in there, but nothing super intense. Either way you’ll probably be too absorbed into the levels to notice much. The levels require a lot of concentration or you will be doomed to lose quite a lot.

As far as replay value goes I’d say there is quite a bit here. In the third game I was able to get most of the collectibles naturally so the bulk of your play time will be in the first game. The third one is also shorter in general, but every bit helps. It should last you a few hours. Then the first game will definitely last a few hours and obtaining everything will extend the time even more. Just keep a look out for those lives and continues since they are very previous. Once lost they will not be returned. That’s why the stakes are so high in the first Rayman.

Overall, The Rayman 10th Anniversary game is pretty solid. Since it brings 2 games for the price of one it is already a pretty good bargain. If you haven’t played the series before then it’s the perfect way to start I’d say. It may be tough goings for a little while but you’ll certainly get a lot of experience in how to handle a platformer by the end of this. It’s why I would be a little hesitant to recommend this to a kid but given enough time I’m sure anyone would be able to clear these levels. It’s just all about repetition and trying to learn some strategies. Now I can finally go and play some of the newer Rayman games. I’ll definitely snag them at some point and we’ll see if they can possibly match these two or if they are doomed from the start. No guarantees on just how soon “at some point” means though.

Overall 7/10

Academy of Champions Review


Academy of Champions is one of the more enjoyable Soccer games that I’ve played. For whatever reason, I was never too impressed with the FIFA titles so Mario Strikers and Pure Futbol have been my go to titles for the sport. Granted I haven’t actually played the FIFA games as much as I could have. I can acknowledge that those games have a lot more depth to them, but this title is easy to just plug and play. Adding in popular characters like Ezio and Rayman is just a nice bonus.

Lo and behold there is actually a story mode in this game. It starts off with our young hero receiving an invitation to the world’s most prestigious soccer academy. The person who invited the hero doesn’t remember doing so but decides to roll with it anyway. It turns out that this is all going according to a corrupt teacher’s master plan. The main character is going to need to stay sharp since no one can be trusted.

There may not be much to the plot but at least the game has a story. That’s more than you can say for a lot of its rivals. How the story works is that you go through his various school semesters. Each semester is 20 days with a critical event occurring every 5 days. You can’t afford to lose those days so they are mandatory but the other days are low stakes. Winning will get you more exp so that’s the main incentive for the average day. The other incentive is just your pride.

The activities in a day vary according to different categories. A match event is self explanatory as you’ll play a hand against an opponent for practice. The gossip task will have you chat with your friends about how tough the villains are. Training tasks will have you doing basic drills and then you also get tasks to head to the shop and to upgrade your characters. That was a bit of an annoying addition since it meant that you could not upgrade at will, you had to wait for that day to arrive.

The matches were pretty fun because the gameplay was actually very on point. It’s pretty simple to pick up and play but very challenging to score goals until you learn the tricks. Passing to your teammates is highly recommended along with running side to side as the goalie will take the bait. Each player has a super attack with you can buy to take your game to the next level. They actually didn’t help me much as the A.I. would just block it every time, but it will be good against human opponents. Just stay aggressive and knock the opponents down.

I have to give the game some credit for having full cutscenes. I wasn’t really expecting that. They may not have had any dialogue as that was all done via text box but it was still neat. The character models are a little off. Graphically, the game isn’t bad. The designer just went a little too wild with the character proportions which is what made everything a little dicey. The game was still very clear and you could always tell what was happening. It was good enough for me to enjoy the rest of the game. I’m afraid that the soundtrack was significantly less impressive. There weren’t any tunes that really stood out to me. It was all fairly generic and lifeless. I don’t think the developers put much time into this part of the game.

There really isn’t any replay value aside from multiplayer mode. This is the kind of game where you can’t go back and hire everyone to form the ultimate team. You can replay the last few days I believe so you can grind out some extra stats for your characters but there’s nothing you can do with them anyway. Since the gameplay is good the multiplayer can go a long way. I suppose it will just have to suffice in this case. If you have a friend over, this is as good a pick as any.

One quality of life issue that I had with the game was that you couldn’t see your individual stats for each player when switching up your lineup. You’d have to write them all down or memorize the stats if you wanted to make some changes. It just ended up being a longer process than I would have liked. Finally, the difficulty level of the game is pretty good. You can definitely expect to meet a real challenge towards the end of the game. The tournaments are maybe just a little too long, but at least the game always feels fair. Replaying the level never becomes a chore.

Overall, Academy of Champions was definitely worth the couple of dollars that I bought it for. This may not exactly be a triple A game, but they put some nice effort into it. Incorporating the guest characters into the story would have been awesome but I guess we can’t have it all. Some mechanics weren’t thought out well like not being able to upgrade at will, but the gameplay was on point. I usually don’t care for the “day” system where a day will pass each time you do something but the game pulled it off pretty well. I’d recommend getting this title. You’ll be surprised at just how good it is.

Overall 7/10