Demo Impressions: Rayman Origins 3DS

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Ubisoft finally got around to announcing the official launch date (June 5) for Rayman Origins on the Nintendo 3DS – but not until last week, when the Demo Version of the game appeared on the Nintendo eShop service, available for all to download and play. As a fan of the platformer when it was originally released on the Xbox 360 and PS3, I have been eager to check out Rayman Origins on the 3DS, and wasted no time getting my hands on the trial version.

Fortunately, some of Rayman Origin’s most redeeming qualities appeared to be ported very well to the Nintendo 3DS. The demo version offers three of the game’s stages (“Swinging Caves”, “Playing in the Shade”, and “Shooting Me Softly”) for you to try out, giving a brief but satisfying glimpse at the range of platforming challenges and secrets contained in the actual game.

Overall, the demo does a great job of showing off how much depth and complexity is involved with the game, from finding hidden Lums to beating your high scores to earn medals and so on. The three different levels actually allow you to experience the three major forms of game design utilized in the game; from the traditional platforming to the chase stages and finally the shooter sequences.

The visuals in Rayman Origin were one of its high points, and the demo doesn’t disappoint – it looks absolutely brilliant, particularly with the 3D effects turned on. The vibrant art style featured in the original version really comes to life on the 3DS, bringing out a lot of the intricate detail featured in each of the stages, character models, and animations. The catchy music is also back – I was most excited to hear the tune from the game’s tricky but exciting “chase stages”.

Unfortunately, I also experienced some sluggishness and an overall lack of smoothness in my time with the Rayman Origins demo. Almost immediately, I noticed that the frame rate leaves a lot to be desired – the 3DS version is much rougher and basically moves less fluidly than the console counterparts. Though some of this is due to understandable hardware limitations, it is hardly satisfying when the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions were almost universally acclaimed for being so intuitive.

Also, the loading times in the demo version were terribly long – I wouldn’t normally complain, but in my first few attempts with each stage, I actually said, “Is this game really still loading?” I certainly hope this issue is resolved by the time the full game comes out – again, not to be a Debbie Downer, but I really cannot recall playing a single game with such lengthy load times for any Nintendo handheld in the past.

Despite some of these issues with the Rayman Origins trial version, I am still looking forward to the 3DS port. Before wrapping up this little preview, I would like to mention the additional replay value-extending features. First, like the console versions, Rayman Origins for the 3DS tracks a lot of progression-based stats – all the medals you’ve collected, your record times and high scores for each stage, your total playing time, and so on. These stats can be transferred to other Rayman Origins players with the 3DS’s StreetPass function – basically the same feature used in Super Mario 3D Land – which encourages players to re-play the stages, earning everything in the game in order to out-play their friends and other players. Additionally, Rayman Origins joins the club of 3DS games that features in-game “Achievements”, similar to Shinobi – this will certainly give the completionists even more perfection-chasing goals to complete as they play through the 60 different stages.

Look out for Rayman Origins when it finally comes to the Nintendo 3DS on June 6, 2012 – and keep your eyes peeled for the full review on Game Freaks 365.