It’s funny how things come full circle. It may be hard to remember now, but way back at E3 2012 when Rayman Legends was first revealed, it was declared a Wii U exclusive. Any Wii U owners who were eagerly awaiting Legends will recall the frustrating events that took place over the year that followed: originally planned as a Wii U launch game, it was delayed three months, then delayed another six months so it could become a multi-format release (even though the Wii U version was already finished).
Naturally, Nintendo fans weren’t too chuffed that what was supposed to be a launch day exclusive ended up being a multi-format game that was released nearly a year into the system’s life, so for a while Ubisoft wasn’t really in our good books. Still, time heals all wounds and with Ubi and Nintendo very much best pals again – the recent Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle being the perfect example of this – there’s no better way to draw a line under the Rayman Legends saga than with this final ‘Definitive Edition’ on the Switch. Well, sort of.
To be clear, Rayman Legends on Switch does very much justify its ‘definitive’ tag, because nobody can argue that – by definition – no other version offers as much as the Switch version. It’s just that the extra stuff added to this port is so meagre that anyone assuming this is some sort of goodie-laden ‘Game Of The Year’ edition is in for a short, sharp shock.
First, let’s look at the game as a whole, for the benefit of those who may have missed out on it in its various other incarnations. The sequel to 2011’s Rayman Origins, Legends is a 2D platformer that uses Ubisoft’s much-praised UbiArt game engine to allow for a stunning hand-drawn look. There’s no denying this is definitely the case here. Every part of Legends looks magnificent: it’s easily the closest the games industry has come to date in making a game that looks like a playable cartoon. The character animations, the beautifully detailed backgrounds, the subtle lighting; it all comes together to make for a visually impressive adventure.
It sounds as good as it looks too, with a fantastic orchestral soundtrack accompanying your adventure. There are even some levels in there that are played to the rhythm of the music; these are among the most difficult stages but also the most satisfying and inventive because of the ways they flow along with the beat.
The game’s main hub is an art gallery where each painting represents one of six worlds. Each can be entered, Super Mario 64 style, to reveal a number of platforming stages. While the general aim is just to reach the end of each stage, you’re also expected to collect Lums (the game’s currency) and rescue the captive Teensies who can be found throughout. It’s this feature that provides the game’s replay value: you get a bronze, silver or gold trophy for each stage depending on how many Lums you collected, and you can’t really mark the level off as 100% complete until you’ve also found and rescued every Teensy.
This helps extend the length of what’s initially a fairly short game. With only six worlds on offer, a standard playthrough isn’t exactly likely to keep you busy for hundreds of hours. The real challenge comes in completely rinsing every level of its Lums and Teensies, and thankfully the game’s feel and platform mechanics are satisfying enough to make this feel like a privilege, not a chore.
Controlling Rayman and his chums is a treat. Jumping has a satisfying weight to it, and while attacks feel a little on the light side there’s still great joy to be had in thwacking your way through a bunch of baddies before punching open a Teensy’s cage and freeing them. The sprint button (operated with either ZL or ZR) is also great fun to hold down: the momentum as your character builds up their pace is subtle but makes hitting top speed feel cool as hell.
There’s support for up to four players who can play simultaneously, either using a single Switch or via local wireless play. However you choose to do it, things can be a little manic and in the more difficult stages it’s possible to get in each other’s way a little too much. It’s very much something you should do when you want to have a laugh rather than when you want to make proper progress in the game.
When the game was originally planned for Wii U, one of the big selling points was the presence of Murfy, a small green creature who could be controlled using the GamePad’s touch screen. The idea was that the player could tap and swipe on the screen to help Murfy attack enemies, cut ropes, move platforms and generally manipulate the game world to help Rayman progress. Naturally, most other consoles didn’t have a touch screen, meaning the Xbox and PlayStation versions instead had Murfy simply floating next to specific obstacles until you pressed a button to trigger them. The Vita version was the only other one to include the touchscreen functionality.
Of course, this being the ‘Definitive Edition’ – and being on a system that does indeed have a touchscreen – the Switch port has Murfy back in all his tappy and swipey glory, assuming you're playing in handheld mode, of course. That’s not to say it’s identical to the Wii U version again, mind you: the main game still plays like the non-touchscreen versions, in which Murfy is controlled with a single button. There’s just a new painting added to the hub area called Murfy’s Touch, which contains the touch-enabled versions of 14 levels from the main adventure.
This solution gives the best of both worlds, really. While the game was originally designed with touchscreen controls in mind when it was still going to be a Wii U exclusive, the reality is that controlling Murfy with button presses will feel a lot less fiddly to many players. Meanwhile, there will be others who like the feeling of interacting directly with the stage, using the touchscreen: this way both sets of players are happy, and with 14 new stages (even though it’s repeated content) that means more game to play through before you reach 100% completion.
Outside of the main stages, all the other little bits and bobs that featured in previous versions of Rayman Legends are present and accounted for in the Switch version, too. There’s a grand total of 34 playable characters to choose from, some of whom are unlocked as you hit certain Luma totals. Some of these characters were previously exclusive to either the PlayStation, Xbox or Wii U versions of the game, so this is the first time every one of them is available together.
That means you can choose the Mario Rayman or Luigi Globox skins that were only in the Wii U version, then switch to the Splinter Cell Rayman – who was an Xbox 360 exclusive pre-order character – before taking the Assassin’s Creed (PlayStation exclusive), Prince Of Persia (Vita exclusive) or Far Cry (Xbox exclusive) versions of Rayman out for a spin. It’s a nice touch to finally have them all here: even UbiRay, the special blue version of Rayman who was previously only available to the game’s developers or active community members who were granted VIP status, is available.
The selection of remastered stages from Rayman Origins returns here too, though earning them is still a frustrating process. There are 40 in total, and they can only be unlocked by scratching ‘Lucky Tickets’, which are earned for doing well in each level. The random nature of these tickets – sometimes you win a level but other times you could get some Lums, a Teensy or a new addition to the game’s creature collection – means trying to unlock all 40 levels can get a bit annoying.
Finally, rounding things off is Kung Foot, the football mini-game which is actually much more fun than it initially looks. Up to four players can get involved, and it’s an entertaining little diversion, if a little on the light side. This is also where the Switch version’s only completely brand new feature can be found, in the shape of Kung Foot Tournament. As the name suggests, this lets you put players into up to eight teams and makes a little knockout tourney with quarter finals, semi finals and finals. It should make for an enjoyable night in, provided you can find enough willing pals.
That said, it’s a little disappointing that this is the only truly new addition to the Switch version of the game. Some extra bonus levels would have been welcome, or maybe some character skins that haven’t already featured on other systems. Given how the recent release of Mario + Rabbids has (somehow) made Rabbids entertaining again, adding one of those as a playable character would have been a brilliant little bonus (especially given their Rayman roots). As it is, there’s really nothing here to make what was admittedly already an exceptional game even better, and that’s a little bit of a shame.
Despite its ‘Definitive Edition’ moniker, the vast majority of what you get in the Switch version of Rayman Legends has been seen in every other edition. The only truly new features here are a complete character roster for the first time and a tournament mode for its football mini-game. That’s not to say it's a bad game; that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s still one of the best plumber-free platformers ever made, and its budget price means if you haven’t played it before this is the perfect time to jump in. Just be warned: if you already got your fill on Wii U or any other system, there isn’t really much here you won’t have already seen.