As an experiment, I took some video games I rented from Blockbuster to a dinner party where I knew a couple of kiddo gamers (ages 9-13) were going to be hanging out while the adults ate.
The games included Rayman Origins, Bowling Pinbusters, Smarty Pants and Prototype. I put the games in the “kid” room next to the gaming consoles and returned to the dinner party. I planned my first investigative mission for 20 minutes and watched the clock. I expected to return to the gaming crew to find them playing Prototype because it’s rated “M” for mature audiences. To my surprise, Rayman Origins for the Xbox 360 won out. They picked it first, played for several hours and didn’t want me to take it home.
Rayman is not a new character in the gaming world. In fact, I wrote about Rayman 2: The Great Escape for the iPad in the June 2-8, 2011, issue of The Examiner’s Entertainment Guide. The limbless character has been around since 1995, and this is the fourth major title featuring him in a mystical world. This latest game, Origins, was released last November, is highly rated in the video game world as one of the most creative and enticing 2D platform games and is available everywhere you might want to play it: Xbox, Wii, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS and Microsoft Windows. Cost varies from 10 to $40.
Rayman is cute in a goofy way because he has only head, hands, stomach and feet. Missing are arms and legs, neck, etc. His world is a lush fantasyland with kid-friendly bad guys; you know, like the bad guys of fairy tales? Instead of the evil stepmother in Cinderella or the wicked witch in Wizard of Oz, Rayman’s antagonist in Origins are Darktoons, minions sent by an old granny from the Land of the Livid Dead. Darktoons capture the good guys, the Electoons, and Rayman and his friends Globox (his best bud, a blue google-eyed blob with legs) and two teensies, miniature wizard-type creatures, are charged with saving the Electoons, i.e. saving the world.
Players can play solo, taking on the role of Rayman, or four can play by assuming one of the four roles – Rayman, Globox or a teensy – and jump in and out of play. All characters race through Origins’ world, the Glade of Dreams, very Mario-like, capturing coins (gold and skull coins), defeating the enemy and advancing to levels to do more of the same, including several boss battles against a giant pink monster with hundreds of eyes, a big bad daisy plant and more.
During the course of the game, players are given more powers like diving, swimming, running up walls and flying using Rayman’s hair in what is called HairlyCopter.The storyline is fairly complex and includes a variety of benign characters – a magician, nymphs, a Bubble Dreamer and Mr. Dark, the ultimate bad guy. But then there’s Betilla, the fairy.
Betilla is a cross between Tinker Bell and Kim Kardashian. Her bikini and thigh-high boots are Tinker Bell-green but barely big enough to cover her Kardashian voluptuousness. Her long red-hair nearly flows freely enough to cover her ample cleavage, but not quite. For everything Rayman doesn’t have, body-wise, Betilla has it in the enhanced form. For us parents, Betilla is like the unnecessary curse word in the PG-13 movie. Origins is darling, precious and cute for kiddos, if you can overlook the sex-kitten fairy, Betilla.
“Origins” is a fast-paced game. Players need to be able to maneuver quickly, running, jumping, swimming, fighting and shooting. One minute my players were riding the back of a pink mosquito and the next they were running through the Jibberish Jungle. The left-to-right movement shows a fluid sequence of beautiful graphics complemented by original music.
When given a choice of video games, kids picked Rayman, and I see why. It features a charming character and adventurous challenges for everyone 10 and older.