When a new console comes out there are always ports of successful or sometimes unsuccessful games slapped down for launch in the hopes that new owners will grab them for something to add to their console bundles. This is normally a very bad thing for us gamers as we have sub-par games bumped onto our shiny new console, which let’s face it doesn’t show it off in the best light. Thankfully, there is no such concern with Rayman: Origins arrival on the PS Vita, as Ubisoft shows us the way that ports should be done.
First off, Rayman was an under appreciated game on the home consoles, perhaps not selling as well as its high critical praise suggested it would, which is why it’s all the more surprising to see it arrive on PS Vita. However, Ubisoft have done an excellent job transferring the game from the big screen to the Vita’s. The initial impressions you get from the first time you drop into the game is ‘Blimey, he’s small!’ and that would be a very true statement. Rayman does look amazingly small; it seems that the aspect ratio from the home console versions has been transported over. However, this is actually the first point that shows how well the Vita’s control options have been integrated, without making it too much of a ‘here do this!’ kind of exercise. You see, pinching the edges of the screen draws the camera inwards towards Rayman and conversely you can also zoom out in the same fashion. This on its own doesn’t actually sound all that amazing and it isn’t after all; we have all been pinching to zoom on our smartphones for years. But the key here is how well it is integrated into the game. The movement of the camera is silky smooth and the sensitivity is just right so that you don’t over slip. This exemplifies the core that runs through Rayman Origins on Vita; it has been ported with the console in mind not the game.
Movement and the other main controls have not changed from the home console version, which is one of the greater design choices here. While Uncharted Golden Abyss works well on Vita, it feels a little like every control function of the Vita has been crowbarred into the game to make sure there is a use for it. With Rayman there is no such attempt, it just feels perfect on the new handheld. If you choose not to use any of the touchscreen functions like being able to tap on the next level instead of using the analog stick to complete the same task you can without any feeling that you have missed out on anything.
The one thing that hasn’t translated over to the Vita is the co-op mode for the game. While the Vita can support AdHoc and Online options they have been left out of Rayman for a reason I cannot fathom. It may not seem a great loss from what is an excellent game, but the co-op mode added a lot to the game in the first instance that it not being included is a drawback. However, you can get by without it.
The amazing graphics have been ported over too, with the game looking amazing on the 5 inch OLED screen. The colours that looked starling on a TV screen look blisteringly vivid and bright. It almost feels that the OLED screen was the way that Rayman was meant to be seen. The cartoon style also fits brilliantly to the graphics giving each of the worlds that Rayman explores their own character and grace.
For those who didn’t delight in the game when it was first released the storyline follows Rayman in a rebooted series taking our hero back to his basics. The story will not win any Oscars, but it offers a simple tale of fun and Good Vs Evil. Rayman and friends spend their days sleeping, eating and generally just enjoying themselves, when their antics annoy a Granny from the Underworld who sends her evil creatures to capture all the Electoons (happy little purple Smarties with a pony-tail). Once Rayman gets wind of what is happening he sets off to save the Electoons and stop the evil armies from destroying the Glade in which he lives.
Rayman Origins was sorely over looked when it hit back in November last year, but with it being a launch title for the Vita there really is no excuse not to enjoy one of the most captivating games that you will play. While it’s a shame that the co-op mode didn’t make the jump, the single player makes up for the lack of it. This game may not be superior on Vita over the home consoles, but if you’re looking for a game on your new handheld that will fill that platforming gap, then this is it.
Rating: OutstandingReview Policy(version tested: PS Vita)
You can pick up a copy of Rayman Origins for PS Vita here or grab a bundle with Rayman and either a 3G or WiFi Vita here.