Preview: Rayman Origins (Nintendo 3DS)

Rayman Origins has been available on home consoles since November of last year, meaning it’s taken Ubisoft’s retro Rayman revival six months to finally appear on Nintendo’s handheld – and that’s only in the form of a demo. From what we’ve played of it, however, it looks to be worth the wait.

While the demo is admittedly short, featuring just three levels from the full game, what’s on offer here really does showcase the amount of variety in the full game. The first level in the demo seems to be your average opening stage in a 2D platformer: the World 1-1 in Super Mario Bros., or the Green Hill Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog. Neither too easy nor too difficult, it gives you a chance to get a feel for the controls, which aren’t too different to those seen in other traditional platformers.

After accustoming yourself to the gameplay quirks, such as mastering the wall kicks and swinging on the vines (much like in Donkey Kong Country Returns), you’ll be thrown into the second demonstration level, which sees a big change in its pacing. Losing the first level’s colourful, vibrant backdrop, much like in Donkey Kong Country Returns’  sunset stages, the second sees everything in the foreground silhouetted out, and a simple blue background. In this level, the gameplay changes from relatively slow-paced exploration, to chasing after an enemy on an auto-scrolling plane, where you’re required to avoid obstacles, time your jumps, and grab onto the swinging vines with pinpoint precision, with one slip up – much like in Bit.Trip Runner – meaning you must start over.

In the third and final level of the demo, the gameplay changes for a third and final time. Much like the barrel levels (you can probably guess where we’re going here) in Donkey Kong Country Returns, you hop onto the back of one of Rayman’s sidekicks – in this case it’s the mosquito – to fly through a second auto-scrolling level, in which you’re required to avoid obstacles, fire its poisonous sting, and inhale enemies to make it to the end.

From what’s available in the demo, Rayman Origins looks set to become the 3DS’s best platformer – at least until New Super Mario Bros. 2 arrives later this year – with huge variety in the levels, and some obvious inspiration from other well-known platforming series. While we don’t know how the final game will shape up against its home console and PlayStation Vita cousins in the long run, Ubisoft seems to have done a great job of porting the game to Nintendo’s handheld. Let’s hope the game meets our high expectations when it launches next month.

The Rayman Origins demo is available as a free download from the Nintendo eShop now. Be sure to check it out and let us know what you think.

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