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Monday, December 19, 2011

Rayman Origins sells 50,000 in November, and that's a shame

Ubisoft's critically acclaimed 2D platformer Rayman Origins, which released on the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii in November, only sold 50,000 units that month, according to a report from Eurogamer.

Having bought and played the game, I'll tell you this: It deserves a lot more than that. It's just that fun. The art style for this game is amazing. The levels are filled with crisp colors, the backgrounds are begging to be noticed, character animations are fluid, and the music and gameplay are top notch.

Each level has so much depth to it, where collecting as many Lums as you can helps go toward many unlockables. It's not a drag to collect these as you learn a variety of moves throughout the game, and the levels complement these additions to your arsenal. Hidden areas in each level will keep you coming back for more. While it's not too challenging in the beginning, the later worlds put your skills to the test.

And let's not forget about the thrills of chasing down a treasure chest in secret levels filled with tight spaces, wall jumps, long jumps, moving walls and much more. Kind of like the bosses in Super Meat Boy, a ridiculously harder 2D platformer, it's a nonstop obstacle course. Don't fall behind or you're done for. You'll start over a lot, get frustrated, but the reward for completing these is worth it.

Rayman Origins is the type of 2D platformer I would like to see New Super Mario Bros by Nintendo become. I want to see longer Mario levels with all kinds of platforming obstacles. They like to make us collect the three Star Coins in each level but there could be more. How about collecting as many regular coins as you can (kind of like the Lums), which can be used to unlock new levels and worlds? The difficulty of these games can be ramped up. Wouldn't it be fun to chase down the Koopa Kids in one of those nonstop obstacle courses, with Goombas, Thwomps, Koopa Troopas, Boos, and other classic enemies getting in your way?

There are different ways to look at why Rayman Origins only sold 50,000. When it's all said and done, it's still a 2D platformer, and some will wonder if spending $50-$60 on this type of game, which is generally shorter in replayability, is worth the money. I don't follow that notion. Nintendo offers a lot of fun in their New Super Mario Bros games that are worth the full price, as does the Little Big Planet series with its unique gameplay. Even Donkey Kong Country Returns brought back the good ol' days of the popular SNES platformer.

This brings up name recognition. Introduced in 1995 on the PlayStation, the Rayman character kind of fell out of the spotlight in the mid-2000s, being replaced by the Raving Rabbids characters in a bunch of party-type games. Rayman doesn't have that special bond with people like Mario or Donkey Kong.

But the biggest thing of all is this game got completely overshadowed by an onslaught of new releases. The holidays are a time where the big guns come out. You had Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which shattered records. Battlefield 3 wasn't far behind and now has a massive following. Other titles were Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Assassins Creed: Revelations, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D Land, and Saints Row: The Third among others. So many games, so little time. Would Rayman have fared better if it released after all this?

Maybe December will be better for Rayman Origins. It's been a long time since we got a proper Rayman game, and it would be a shame to see it buried in the bargain bin so soon. If you're eying a last-minute holiday gift, take a look at this one. You can't go wrong with it.

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