Rayman Origins Review (PlayStation Vita)

One of the best games you can buy for your new Sony handheld, period.

When Ubisoft released Rayman Origins for consoles last year, it brought back one of its longest running franchises in a fresh new mold, one that all gamers could appreciate, from its classic platforming set-up to its gorgeous presentation, which makes it resemble a Saturday morning cartoon brought to life.  Somehow, Ubisoft has managed to cram almost every bit of goodness from the original game into on-the-go play for the PlayStation Vita – and that’s the primary reason why it’s a must-own.

As in the original, you select from one of four characters – the nimble Rayman, the goofy Globox or a pair of Teensies – and make your way across the Glade of Dreams, bashing bad guys and collecting yellow Lums across each stage.  Along the way, you’ll also need to rescue imprisoned Pink Lums, these adorable little creatures that shouldn’t be locked up in the first place.  And you’ll complete other tasks as well, such as rescuing hot fairies that grant you special abilities, beating down treasure chests, scooting around underwater and taking part in vertical shooting stages that put most other shooters to shame (especially when you use Globox, who is practically ridden and controlled by a mosquito).

Michel Ancel, the original creator behind Rayman, returns with his Ubisoft team to create one of the most diabolically brilliant handheld games we’ve seen in some time.  The fact that the team has managed to recreate the experience on the Vita without losing a spring in its step is remarkable.

Let’s talk about the gameplay.  The 2D platforming is handled very nicely, whether you’re slamming into enemies on the ground or gliding your way across a chasm by flapping your arms.  Each level gets trickier when it goes along too, introducing various dangers like moving flute walkways, crushing walls, collapsing platforms and other environmental hazards, all of which are meant to test your platforming techniques.  There are some great challenge stages as well, featuring a treasure chest running as fast as it can from you, forcing you to play catch-up.