You cannot buy a PlayStation Vita without purchasing Ubisoft's 2D masterpiece.
Rayman Origins has the sublime distinction of being 2011's best 2D platform adventure. Ubisoft did a phenomenal job creating vibrant worlds bursting with color and detail, then merging addictive gameplay with this eye-popping artwork to create one of the finest titles we've played in months.
It's this high level of quality that made a seamless transition to PlayStation Vita, where Origins shines on the handheld's sweet five-inch OLED screen, which perfectly captures the variety of stages you'll explore, from a snowy landscape contrasted with watermelon pieces to a Mexican kitchen decorated with spicy red peppers. Sony will tout the system's 3D capabilities, and for great reason, but you've never seen 2D visuals this sharp and downright gorgeous on a handheld.
Play wise, you take control of Rayman or one of his whacky friends (each of which possess unique abilities) and explore the wondrous Glade of Dreams, pummeling bad guys, picking up collectibles called Lums and searching for hidden passageways to score even more loot.
Along the way, gusts of wind propel your character of choice through the air. Later, you'll swim underwater, narrowly avoiding dangerous (and hungry) sea life, then resurface to hitch a ride on a mosquito, where the game transitions to a vertical shooter.
That's the beauty of the experience. You always have something new to see and do, or an item to search for, all the while basking in the game's outstanding locations. There's even a light amount of sex appeal that comes in the form of the voluptuous nymphs, but don't worry if you're a parent. It's G-rated for the kids.
The only knock against this package is the lack of multiplayer from the console version, a real shame, since it changed Origins' dynamic while giving you and some friends a few laughs.
As for Vita specific features, Ubisoft lets you pinch the screen to zoom, but doing so means you don't see everything a particular level has to offer. Still, it's the best way to view the minute details, and for that, we're grateful.
Less impressive is the ability to grab Lums and other objects by tapping them. Sort of defeats the purpose of platforming.
Finally, there's a Ghost Mode, where you compete against your best level runs, in case you're into speeding through stages.
Simply put, Rayman Origins is one hot box of rocks. Arguably, it is PlayStation Vita's best launch game, a content and graphically rich experience that serves as a loyal handheld companion, perfectly suited for long or short play sessions.
In other words, worth every penny of its $39.99 asking price.
Review copy provided by Ubisoft.
What's Hot: Near perfect port of the console experience, beautiful 2D graphics, pinch controls, Ghost Mode, personality to spare.
What's Not: No multiplayer.