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Hands On: Getting Competitive in the Rayman Legends Challenges App

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Nice for a freebie, modest as compensation

Sometimes game releases, or apps in this case, bring to an end a saga of delays, upset fans and development strife. This Rayman Legends Challenges App does that, representing the final (probably) peace offering from Ubisoft to disgrunted Wii U owners before Rayman Legends arrives in late August/early September. From one perspective it's a nice freebie, while from another it's a tad underwhelming.

In terms of the old, this app dishes up the same three levels that we enjoyed in the original demo, but without that pesky use limit. These are Teensies in Trouble, Toad Story and Castle Rock; the latter two are available after Teensies in Trouble has introduced you to the basics when both platforming or performing as Murphy on the GamePad touchscreen. We've already reviewed these levels in detail when test running the Rayman Legends demo.

In fact, when you spot those demo stages, and the familiar painting-based level-select screen, it becomes apparent that this app is a natural extension of that original demo. Once again you can replay the three stages until you've had enough of them, with trophies for rescuing captured friends and collecting Lums; conquering the three levels with all trophies and collectibles does little but add to your Lum count. Accumulating Lums does have some value for keen collectors, unlocking additional playable characters — their abilities are practically the same, but variations in their mannerisms and animations are charming.

In fact, playing on and on, and unlocking those characters, may be motivated not just by the tight platforming — certainly sharpened up since Rayman Origins — but by the outstanding presentation. Ubisoft has produced a graphics engine both beautiful but also absolutely impeccable in performance, with never a dropped frame. It's a good advert for the capabilities of the Wii U — we have no comparison to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions as yet — but also for the merits of art design, both visually and aurally.

But what about the Challenges aspect of the download? Within its own area you can choose from daily and weekly challenges, with consistent delivery on the former to date. For each of these you can take them on at any time (while they're available, naturally) and as often as you like, and each time you start a run you're surrounded by a few ghosts of those closest to you on the leaderboards; a well-worn practice, but initially the ghosts can be confusing if using the same character as you, with a few of our early deaths caused by attempting to control a ghost near our own character. After a few runs this is generally avoided.

To its immense credit, the load times between runs and loading up your results in the leaderboard are almost instantaneous, and with some of the challenges being less than a minute long, it encourages repeated plays as you continually boost your score and move up the leaderboards. There are already tens of thousands of players recording scores, and your placing determines whether you receive a bronze, silver or gold trophy, with the app letting you know which award you're on course to pick up.

The better the trophy the more points you receive, and these are accumulated towards ranks of "awesomeness". The higher you go the more content you receive, with locked paintings tempting you to keep taking on challenges and accumulating those valuable trophies. All of these leaderboards and statistics, meanwhile, are abundantly available through clear buttons on the touchscreen, where you can check out your rankings and even details such as how many times you've jumped, or how far you've run compared to others around the world.

Of the challenges so far, they generally remain adaptations of stages seen in the demo levels, though some have deviated to present fresh areas. So far they also highlight one of the enduring concerns about Rayman Legends, which is a focus on co-op play. All levels and challenges can be played in single player, but some insist that you play the accompanying Murphy role on the GamePad, with an AI platformer. In one challenge that's reliant on collecting Lums as quickly as possible, for example, the AI character just doesn't progress as quickly as a human player would, and shows a lack of intelligence in adapting jumps to compensate for mistakes from Murphy, as a skilled platformer would. One aggravating jump we encountered insists on you cutting the ropes a specific way, or the AI character will simply aimlessly jump past the ropes to its doom.

When you're platforming in single-player, Murphy's abilities to paint Lums and double their value is compensated with a setup where they're painted if you hit them in the right order. This works well in challenges so far where you're descending down a pit or dashing to finish a level within 30 seconds, but there are dungeon-based levels where your chances are undoubtedly enhanced with a willing second player. While playing as Murphy can be flat in single player, going through local co-op with a friend on the couch is much more fun, with the intuitive tapping, swiping and dragging of the environment being accessible for gamers of all levels. If you're competitive, however, you may want to recruit a regular GamePad partner for some of the stages to ensure that you maximise your performance.

Overall, the challenges are fun, and they mix up the objectives just enough to be worth a 15-minute blast on most days; the opportunity to play the demo levels without a usage limit is also welcome. That aside, these short bursts of levels are generally sticking with environments and platforming styles we've already seen, at the time of writing, while they remind us of the concern that, without local co-op buddies at all times, the single player experience in Rayman Legends could be slightly compromised. The Murphy mechanic on the GamePad is excellent when playing with friends and family, but still not a patch on the terrific platforming in single player.

As a free app, this is excellent, but its long-term potential is rather limited to those with the most competitive instincts.

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User Comments (48)

Geonjaha

#2

Geonjaha said:

How is it a downside that there is a good Platformer that relies on co-op? If you cant find anyone else to play with then of course you're not going to get an AI that does everything perfectly. A game can be amazing even if it is co-op only - just like single player only games. Those playing should be happy it's even an option on the challenge stages.

Mewtwo21

#3

Mewtwo21 said:

I've really enjoyed the app. Its fun but im still disappointed in Ubisoft for delaying the game.

TreesenHauser

#4

TreesenHauser said:

For something that's free that offers new challenges everyday, IMO this is more than just modest compensation. It's doing its job; the app offers a free challenge mode, specifically to hold Wii U owners over until the game's release. While it won't be the only thing I play until its release, I know I'll be going back to this at least once every day to see where I stand and what's next!

Sure, the delay sucks, but I'm personally happy to have it.

ThomasBW84Admin

#5

ThomasBW84 said:

@Geonjaha I think when platforming is this good, it's a shame to be pushed into touchscreen controls at specific points. Not everyone will have co-op buddies handy when they want to play. I find it disappointing, personally.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#6

Philip_J_Reed said:

I like the app and played a few challenges, but then realized these are probably just repurposed stages from the full game...which made me stop playing it. I don't want to get too good at these stages and then breeze through them when the final game comes out. (Also I'm terrible at them. Thomas, if your scores are anything to go by, you're a master.)

Wowfunhappy

#7

Wowfunhappy said:

I don't think these are repurposed stages. They feel like they were designed with these challenges in mind.

ToxieDogg

#8

ToxieDogg said:

The worrying thing is.,,I've seen a few comments on MiiVerse saying that they're happy just playing the app and won't bother with the full game at all now....

I've had a quick go at the app, but I'd rather save extended sessions for the full game when it launches :)

WiiULoveGBA

#9

WiiULoveGBA said:

I do want the full release to feel somewhat fresh so as much as I want to continue to play the daily challenges I may delete the app.

I do hope anyone undecided about the game who plays with the app comes away positive as the developers have made not an average platformer. It's a well well crafted game/platformer.

Funny_Moblin

#10

Funny_Moblin said:

Will the full game give me a frustrating challenge (a good thing)? I honestly can't decide between this and NSMB U....

123akis

#11

123akis said:

theres a typo "Within its own area you can chooses from daily and weekly challenges" It should be.... "Within its own are you can ()choose() from daily and weekly challenges

FJOJR

#12

FJOJR said:

It is a fun challenge and me and my sister enjoyed it just as much as Origins. Keep polishing Ancel and co., we'll try to buy come fall.

aaronsullivan

#13

aaronsullivan said:

@ThomasBW84
You found it disappointing... until you asked a friend or family member to come over and help and then had a great time, right?

Do that many people REALLY play completely alone? When did video gaming become so anti-social? I just think there are WAY too few same-room co-op games. You don't even know what Nintendo Land is if you haven't played with a few people through many stages. :D

@Funny_Moblin If you can't get both this year, I'd wait for Rayman reviews. If you are a bit tired of NSMB though I'd wait. :)

Linkstrikesback

#15

Linkstrikesback said:

@ Nintendolife editors.

You can avoid being forced in to the murphy sections by using a wiimote to control the game.

At least, you could in the original demo, I haven't actually tried it on this version. Obviously, it won't work on the murphy challenge mode levels.

ThomasBW84Admin

#16

ThomasBW84 said:

@123akis Ah yes, thanks for the spot, fixed :)

@linkstrikesback Murphy levels are surely impossible without switches etc being manipulated, so I'm not sure I get what you mean?

@aaronsullivan I do like multiplayer in things like Nintendo Land and online in Monster Hunter, but I mostly game on my own. The Legends platforming is awesome, and I'd rather enjoy that then do mandatory Murphy tap-and-swipe sessions. Just my view, really.

@Philip_J_Reed I don't think I'm THAT good at it, my world ranking is mediocre at best. Besides, your Mega Man skillz humble me greatly...

skjia

#17

skjia said:

@ThomasBW84
I actually find the touch screen areas mix it up a bit and add almost a puzzle element to the game when trying to get the AI to walk in the right direction to get all the collectibles.
But I agree that in challenge mode you're never gonna rank high with an AI walking slowly around and missing jumps. lol

sinalefa

#19

sinalefa said:

I haven't gotten the app, and reading this I don't even want to.

So are you saying that we are still forced to play the same three levels as the demo, over and over with different challenges? Not even a new stage? That surely feels like another bad joke from Ubisoft.

TysonOfTime

#20

TysonOfTime said:

@sinalefa
No, that's incorrect. You get the three stages from the demo, along with a challenge mode that gives different levels with different objectives both daily and weekly.

It's really quite good and I for one appreciate it.

iphys

#21

iphys said:

The app is fun, but I find the touchscreen levels annoying when 1% of the time it seems like my inputs fail to be recognized, and it only takes one miss to kill you. Buttons are so much more reliable, and this game still hasn't sold me on the usefulness of playing with the GamePad.

GamerJunkie

#24

GamerJunkie said:

This game is better than any actual real game released on Wii U so far.

Shows off graphics, proper use of the gamepad, is fun, and seems like a next gen game(at least more than wii quality...).

Hope more games come out like this one, only better. But this is a good start.

Aqueous

#25

Aqueous said:

As long as I can top Iphys I'll be happy playing this based on how it felt tonight. I figure come the launch of the full game they'll stop adding challenges to this one.

WiiUisBest

#26

WiiUisBest said:

It's not bad bad i only wish they had more levels to do on your own and im still buying a used copy of this game when it comes out

GiftedGimp

#27

GiftedGimp said:

I'm Sure come the full game release Ubi said the challenge app will not be updated with new challenges, but tbh thats good as it may encourage ppl to buy the full game.

Tip.. For anyone getting confused with the various ghost running abbout you can turn them off, Just press Start at the begining of a level.

MadAdam81

#28

MadAdam81 said:

I played the first level once in the demo, did the same with the challenges app. I didn't care that much for it, it really feels more like an eShop game, as I felt Cave Story had better graphics and was just more fun to play (with great voice overs too).

Assassinated

#29

Assassinated said:

I'm loving it. So far I've gotten gold in every challenge but the second one (where I got silver). I wasn't even aware that co-op was possible in the challenges. One nice thing about the AI is that it always behaves identically each time, so you can learn the patterns for Murphy. Also everyone gets the same AI, so no one has an advantage over anyone else, save for their skill at handling Murphy.

Hunter-D

#30

Hunter-D said:

Finally got a decent go at this. Really, really fun indeed but I need a HELL of a lot of practice!

Giygas_95

#33

Giygas_95 said:

@ThomasBW84 Did you look at the pause menu while in the challenge or while in the dream tent? You have to be in a challenge to use the ghost on/off option.

Joshers744

#37

Joshers744 said:

I have to say they impressed me with this free app with new Daily (and weekly) challenges, that are a lot of fun, with unlockables even. Yeah, it sucks that it got delayed and isn't just exclusive for Nintendo and everything, but I really think the people who are 'boycotting' a really cool game like this because Ubisoft hurt there feelings needs to get over it. I know that sounds harsh but come on. It's a video game delay. It isn't like Ubisoft said they stand up for terrorism or something.

ArkOne77

#38

ArkOne77 said:

I got 1,366.65m on the Murfy's Dungeon distance challenge.....was quite happy! It is by no means a walk in the park!

ArkOne77

#39

ArkOne77 said:

Can anyone tell me how to increase awesomeness meter? Is it based off of how many lums you have collected total or are there other factors?

Geonjaha

#42

Geonjaha said:

@ThomasBW84 - Alright. I just feel like there are enough good single player Platformers out there - and its fine to have this one specifically for multiplayer, especially considering that only happened to ensure the Wii U's control scheme was effectively utilised (mission accomplished btw).

lebad

#43

lebad said:

Is it a platformer or a mobile game? Cut the rope seems to be better? or Angry bird? Is it possible to take the control of rayman? Could we use our platform skills or is it just touch game????

LeasTwanteD

#44

LeasTwanteD said:

I really like the app. I wish it had an option for communities and to send challenges to people you're not friends with (yet). But beside of that it's a really great experience.
I also hope they repeat the challenges some time. Maybe even after the full game launched. I haven't been able to unlock all the expert challenges and won't even find the time to really delve into a lot of the regular daily ones. :|

HaNks

#45

HaNks said:

great fun! the daily challenges where you see how well people around the world and your friends are doing is addicting ;]

Luffymcduck

#46

Luffymcduck said:

These challenges are actually very much fun to play even if I have seen most of the level elements after few days. Randomly generated levels still have some fun and challenging surprises.

Musashi

#47

Musashi said:

I'm really loving the app...

I like that I can look forward to a new challenge every day (+ every week), and go up against all my Miiverse friends who have it downloaded :)

It's been competitive, fun, and there are many people playing/competing.
I'm still pissed about the delay, but I look forward to future challenges and the full game later this year.

Musashi

#48

Musashi said:

@Lebad- It's not just a "rope-cutter"/touch game... it has full controller levels, touch levels and more. Platformer experience. If you have a WiiU, I really recommend it!

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