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By Amanda Farda

When Ubisoft announced Rayman: Raving Rabbids for the Nintendo Wii five years ago, I assumed it was a strategic move to take advantage of the console’s unique controls and rapidly expanding audience. While the move was certainly family friendly, it left many original Rayman fans wanting more. The series had morphed into the first of two disappointing mini-game collections and the future of the franchise looked dull at best.

However, that outlook has changed now that Rayman has returned back to a platformer in the appropriately titled, Rayman: Origins. What’s more impressive is that Rayman: Origins transports you to a beautiful world of 2D animation. The game’s engine is designed specifically to scan in the artist's work and import it into the game. This whimsical style breathes new life into Rayman and his friends as they ban together to save the world.

Not only does the game look great, it controls well too! It actually reminds me of a little red plumber, especially with the addition of the "wall jump" and "ground pound" moves, but this isn’t a bad thing. Jumping, running and even flying around the fantastical world feels fluid and responsive.

Additionally, Rayman doesn’t have to go it alone, three friends can join seamlessly in local multiplayer mode by picking up a controller. They can play as Rayman’s faithful buddy, Globox, King of the Teensies or a Teensie. One cool mechanic of this multiplayer mode is “bubble death.” When someone dies, he/she becomes a bubble. The dead player can then control this bubble that can be “popped” back into life by an active player. But once every player is “bubbled,” the level restarts.

The Rayman: Origins demo that I played focused on one "element" per level. There was a level centered on wind mechanics and another focused entirely on ice. This made for some fast-paced gameplay with a wind tunnel sucking Rayman up and spitting him out across the screen during one part and a waterway sweeping him away during another. All of it kept me on my toes awaiting the next challenge!

With so many triple-A titles coming out this holiday season, Rayman: Origins may get lost in the clutter, but I encourage all of the true platform gamers out there to keep an eye out for this gem as it was released this month for Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Rayman: Origins truly returns the franchise back to its platforming roots and breathes some much-appreciated life back into the series.

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