|System: Wii U|
|Release: February 26, 2013|
|Players: 1-4 + Asymetrical GamePad Player 5|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence|
by Becky Cunningham
Third-party platform exclusives are becoming increasingly rare these days, and it's almost unheard of for a series to go from multiplatform to exclusive. The lure of the Wii U's GamePad controller, though, was enough for Ubisoft to take Rayman (previously available on everything short of your pocket calculator) on an exclusive outing for the Wii U in Rayman Legends.
After many years of relying on the Rabbids, Ubisoft finally brought back its platforming hero, Rayman, in the beautifully designed and critically acclaimed Rayman Origins. When that game's multiplayer mode proved popular with gamers, the company decided to put an even greater emphasis on the multiplayer experience in the sequel, Rayman Legends. With the Wii U allowing for an asynchronous multiplayer experience, Ubisoft decided to integrate the tablet-controlled character so deeply into the gameplay that Legends simply wouldn't work on other consoles.
The result of that tablet focus can be seen in the various available trailers and the playable demo for Rayman Legends. In single-player mode, the player will need to switch between using a regular platforming character and the tablet-controlled Murfy the fly, who directly manipulates enemies and objects using the stylus and touchscreen. In multiplayer mode, the GamePad player can choose to be Murfy full-time (or swap back and forth with a press of the B button), while up to four others select from an array of characters like Rayman, Globox, and a delightfully homicidal axe-wielding Viking named Barbara.
Ironically, it appears to be Ubisoft rather than Nintendo that has first mastered asynchronous multiplayer platforming on the Wii U, as a stylus player in New Super Mario Bros. U tends to either be bored or looked upon as a menace by other players. Murfy players, on the other hand, are integral to the success of the Rayman team, and there's always something interesting to do with the stylus. Murfy can cut ropes, tickle enemies, pick up goodies and drag them to the other players, manipulate the environment to lead the other players to hidden areas, or poke hazards in order to neutralize them—and that's just when he's not required to do things like move or tilt platforms.
Tilting platforms is accomplished by tilting the GamePad itself, and is the one Murfy responsibility that I found to be a drag when playing through the Rayman Legends demo. The control feels fidgety, it's too easy to accidentally kill the other player during tilt puzzles, and the exact same thing could have been accomplished by simply allowing the player to grab and object and rotate it using the stylus. Otherwise, though, playing as Murfy is quite fun, and works equally well with a skilled player looking out for less-skilled friends or as a less-skilled player being useful without having to perform tricky platforming moves.