by Allan Price
Most game savvy people would have to agree that the Playstation Vita has one of the most impressive launch line-ups for any console in recent times. You just have to look at the 3DS….which had PilotWings and Ridge Racer 3D. The Vita hits the ball out the park when it comes to quality with the likes of Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Wipeout 2048 and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. They are just the tip of the Vita launch iceberg because one of the other great launch titles comes from an old favourite.
It’s a Vita conversion of Rayman Origins, last year’s beautiful retro reboot of the classic platformer, and it’s arrived on Vita with its gorgeous hand-drawn HD visuals wonderfully intact. It’s arguably the most stunning-looking 2D platformer ever made, and one of the most inventive, matching the likes of New Super Mario Bros Wii when it comes to throwing in crazy concepts at a frantic rate.
Rayman Origins also has its own distinctive cartoon style, an infectious, exuberantly silly brand of humour, and one of the best soundtracks in modern gaming. You’re not just interacting with the visual landscape, but also with the soundscape too. All of this remains in the Vita version of the game. Visuals designed to show off the 1080p look with stunning sharpness and vibrant color on the 5 Inch OLED screen, the smooth animation and slick, multi-layered backgrounds appear to have made the transition without a detail fudged or missed.
Rayman Origins asks a lot of your platforming skills, and so a lot of the controls. If I was being really, really picky we might say that the left analogue stick isn’t quite as precise on the Vita as it is in the PS3 version, but there’s not much in it, and within a short period of starting play we’d ceased to notice. While Rayman Origins has its share of nasty difficulty spikes, we can’t honestly blame the controls for our failure to zip through these on the first try.
Vita-specific features are relatively thin on the ground. Bar the pinch-to-zoom gesture, the main one in the single-player campaign is some extra collectible items – relics – which you have to tap when you see them on the screen. All I can say is, good-luck remembering to do so when you’re in the midst of all that bonkers platforming mayhem.
One thing missing from its console counterparts is multiplayer which is a slight disappointment, but not one that should put you off Rayman Origins on Vita for a minute. If you have a home console and simply want to play the game, then the 360 and PS3 versions are now widely available for under £20, so might be a more tempting bet. Yet there’s something about the fast-paced, short-lived levels of Rayman Origins that make it a natural fit for handheld play, and the action is just as compulsive and addictive as it was on the home consoles, if not more so. In fact, one of the best things about replaying Rayman Origins on Vita is that it hammers home what an artful, beautifully constructed platformer it is, making it all the more tragic that more people haven’t managed to pick it up. This new Vita version marks a chance to put this situation straight.
A fabulous conversion of one of the finest 2D platformers ever made, with beautiful HD cartoon graphics, bags of energy and an excess of ideas. If you missed Rayman Origins on its first pre-Christmas run this is an opportunity to make good on your mistake, and if you buy it on Vita then you’re buying one of the best launch games on the system.
Follow Allan on Twitter @AllanGWPrice