- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 14, 2013

A disjointed hero and his pals help restore order to the Glade of Dreams in the action adventure Rayman Legends (Ubisoft, reviewed for Xbox 360, rated E10+, $59.99).

Up to four players can take control of some strange characters from creator Michel Ancel’s latest masterpiece and co-operatively embark on an animation-rich journey through six hostile worlds to fight off nightmarish creatures.

Before delving into the minutia, it’s worth noting Mr. Ancel has excelled at orchestrating the creation of a beautiful and engaging interactive universe over the years.

Upping the artistic ante for Rayman in each of his titles, he still follows the traditions and evolution of the two-dimensional, side-scrolling platform genre that made legends of Mario, Donkey Kong and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Rayman — still thriving with no arms, legs or neck but working hands, feet and noggin — is an equal superstar having been around since 1995.

His latest adventure offers hours and hours of fun, keeping quirky youngsters hooked and addicted longer than watching a Cartoon Network marathon of “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.”

I’d like to highlight the deep story of the game here, but truly, our heroes simply wake up from a century-long nap (lucky) and exist to conquer more than 100 levels of puzzling platforming and combat.

Under a circus tent that serves as a main hub, players jump into unlocked, three-dimensional paintings (looking more like movie posters) presenting intriguing worlds with names such as Toad Story, Fiesta de los Muertos and Olympus Maximus.

The goal through each of the multiple-leveled worlds is to not only collect those lively, luminescent lums (sort of the game’s currency) to unlock more missions and extras, but rescue the caged, bulbous-nosed Teensies (think if Blue Meenies mated with the boys from Spy vs. Spy) and their royalty who are brutalized by the bad guys.

Choices of who to control in the world is ever expanding after conquered missions and include not just permutations of Rayman (such as the knight Sir Rayelot) but pals Globux, Goth Teensy and the Grand Minimus to name a few

Each character can jump, run, climb, float, swing and deliver an attack (Rayman can wind up his massive fist for a long range thumping).

However, no disrespect to the mighty Rayman, but I enjoyed taking control of a new character, the Wagnerian Viking princess named Barbara.

A player will need to rescue many a princess during Rayman’s quests, but this valkyrie spitfire rocks. She uses the wings on her helmet to float, and a large axe to smite her foes with a ranged attack.

However, what’s key during many of the levels in each world is to conquer environmental obstacle with the assistance from the green, always smiling, froggy fly named Murfy.

Murfy pops up when needed and a player prompts him to cut ropes, turn handles to open passageways, eat through massive Pop-Tart like obstacles and even tickle enemies to help Rayman on his journey.

Story Continues →