A year after the original release on home consoles, Rayman Origins finally finds its way to the 3DS, adding stereoscopic 3D and of course portability to the clever 2D side-scrolling gameplay and beautifully detailed presentation of the original. Unfortunately a good amount of its charm is lost in translation with little added to warrant repurchasing the game. With so much of the game unchanged, its faults only stand out all the more prominently.
Virtually nothing is changed in regard to the gameplay or game structure: all the levels are intact with only the smallest alterations that won’t be noticed unless you hold the two versions up to one another, and nothing has been changed with how the game progresses, from the order of levels to the Electoon requirements for accessing bonus areas. To be fair the game was and remains a fiendishly fun and challenging 2D side-scrolling platformer, complete with a decent variety of levels that keep the game from devolving into repetitive stages, but it’s just disappointing that this is for all intents and purposes the same game, which means anyone who has played it already has little reason to play it on the 3DS.
Most of the changes that you do notice tend to be for the worse. The graphics were undoubtedly a highlight on the console version of the game, particularly on the HD platforms, but the 3DS visuals are noticeably inferior. The care and detail of the original art direction means that even a slight muddying of the graphics will catch your eye, and that’s exactly what happens here–lower resolutions and a just plain smaller screen do not do justice to the artwork and visuals. Granted the game still looks good and is certainly playable, but if you have any other system on which to play the game, this 3DS version comes up noticeably lacking. The sound suffers from a similar drop in quality most likely due to compressed files–another tragic loss on the presentation quality of the game.
This 3DS version also drops multiplayer support as well as the wide range of playable characters in favor of only a handful. The multiplayer was always something of an obstacle to the game but at least the option was there–this time you’re on your own. And finally, while the gameplay is fundamentally unchanged, the smaller viewing screen does seem to affect the experience. Without the advantage of seeing further around you on all sides its harder to time and predict tricky jumps or obstacles which in turn hampers the flow and fluidity of the game. This only becomes noticeable in the later stages of the game, but it can be a pain to work with.
So far I’ve talked about all the things missing from Rayman Origins on the 3DS, but of course there are some additions that distinguish this version of the game, however slightly. First and foremost is the portability. The levels are not very short nor suited to particularly brief play sessions but the opportunity to play on the go can be a convenient way of progressing gradually through the many levels of the game. This version is also in 3D, obviously, but the effect isn’t used to great advantage. It’s clear that the game wasn’t made with 3D in mind, and the added depth does little to bolster the already weaker visuals–if anything it only makes them less crisp. And finally the game does use StreetPass, but only to show other players your progress and achievements earned, possibly the most banal use of StreetPass that could be put into a game. One could also argue that this game is cheaper, selling at a recommended price of $30, but you can easily find the home console versions of the game for even cheaper than that nowadays, making this an even more pointless game to invest in.
The undeniable quality and charm of the original is the only thing that buoys the score of Rayman Origins on the 3DS–the experience is overall weaker and the lack of significant additions is just embarrassing. Strictly as a port, this game would score much lower, but at the very least the developers managed to retain most of the game’s addictive platformer gameplay, just without any of the finesse or style that was seen last year. For those looking to buy this title, it really comes down to this question: is portability worth the overall drop in presentation quality, and at times gameplay quality?