Rayman Origins is the long awaited return to 2D platforming for Ubisoft's chopper-haired hero. While the version we played at a recent preview event was running on Xbox 360, we were told the team is aiming to make the Wii version as similar as possible.
Running on Ubisoft's new UbiArt framework, the game is extremely beautiful — detailed, colourful and exceptionally animated, it's among the best looking 2D platformers in recent years. How the graphics will look through Wii's 480p output remains to be seen, but if Ubi can keep the game's palette and character alive, it should survive reasonably intact.
One of the main features Ubi's shouting about is the drop-in multiplayer, with a quick button press bringing your character into the mix. While all the characters are different — there's only one Rayman, after all — they all share the same moveset, which seems a sensible move and a missed opportunity all at once.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect was the lack of interaction between players: unlike New Super Mario Bros. Wii's chaotic jostling, Rayman Origins' team happily shares screen space, giving multiplayer a feel of playing with ghosts rather than solid players. You can still attack your teammates if you want to remind them you're there, but there's a lack of physical presence to characters that's disconcerting.
The levels available in the preview build we played were all decent tests of platforming skill, with a pleasing amount of verticality and objects to collect that should add some replayability to the game's courses.
It's hard to judge whether Rayman Origins is more than just an exceptionally pretty platformer, and on Wii the gameplay will really have to shine as it'll lack the crisp high definition of its Xbox 360 and PS3 counterparts. The multiplayer aspect never really took off for us, and with Wii's co-operative platformers already class above anything else, Ubisoft's game will face stiff competition later this year.