Lately I’d been craving some good platforming action. I looked through the PS4 store and checked out several different titles, then saw that Rayman Legends was on sale. Way back in the day I had the original Rayman on PC. I never got very far, but I loved the art and animation. Nostalgia mixed together with recollections of hearing good things about these newer games, so I picked it up.
So far it’s lived up to my expectations. The art and animations are just as fun, colorful and dynamic as the original. But now I can actually progress through the game. While I’m much better at games now, this one is also designed to be more manageable. Levels have fantastic themes both in presentation and mechanically. My favorite thing Rayman Legends does lies in it’s collectable chains.
First, I should explain what I mean by collectable chains. Collectables are the things you pick up in platformers: coins in Mario, rings in Sonic, and Lums (little fairy-like creatures) in Rayman. You want to pick them up, they are shiny, make a pleasant noise when grabbed, and give a bonus after collecting a certain number (usually an extra life).
A collectable chain is when a bunch of collectable are lined up next to each other in a level. These are especially attractive because you get a bunch of them at once, that pleasant sound rapidly dinging as each is collected, and brings you much closer to the bonus. If grabbing one collectable is fun, getting a bunch at once is super fun.
Collectables lure players towards them, and can act as guides through the levels. Chains of coins add direction to that guide. For example, in the below image from Super Mario Bros 3, the coins are chained diagonally upward, leading off the screen. Without these coins to guide the player, they will have a much harder time finding the secret area along the top of level.
Rayman legends shakes up this formula by making the order coins are picked up in matter. Lums in Rayman come in two varieties, yellow and purple. Purples are worth two, but only appear at the front of a chain. If you pick up the purple Lum first, the next one in the chain will also become purple, then the next becomes purple and so on. This can make a chain of 5 Lums potentially worth 10. The tricky bit is if you miss a purple Lum, and collect a yellow first, the purple one turns yellow and the rest of the chain will remain yellow.
Through this system Rayman Legends takes the usual guidance and reward system of collecting things, and turns each into a mini challenge. Some chains will be typical and easy to acquire. Others may be spinning around, through obstacles, over enemies, and across tricky platforms. This simple change adds an additional layer of challenge to each level. The best part being that it’s totally optional. Perfectly hitting each chain is there for those who want to nail perfect runs. You could also just run through the level, grab what you can and beat it without netting a single purple Lum.