Wii U + Ubisoft fans will remember with deep bitterness the multiple announcements concerning the delay of Rayman Legends, on top of the revocation of its console-exclusive status. As of today the game has been delayed until September 2013, and as a result Wii U owners have every right to be frustrated for seeing a hugely hyped-up launch title disapointingly shoved forward by about 9 months. The Wii U is in dire need of games as well – it’s still a new console and does not yet have that one awesome game that can sell a system like Super Mario 64 did for the Nintendo 64, or Halo for the first Xbox.
So, how do Ubisoft handle this complete train-wreck of a PR disaster?
Well, with the release of the Rayman Legends Challenges App, Wii U owners can download a taste of Rayman for free via Nintendo’s e-shop. It’s a way of saying sorry – and while it’s not exactly a fully fleshed-out game – it’s still pretty damn fun. Challenge mode includes the demo we got in December along with a number of challenges that are switched up every day, along with an additional challenge every week.
This formula works pretty well because there will always be a new challenge to try out, and all the time we get to handle those slick, refined controls and mechanics that fans of the series know and love. The inclusion of leaderboards, loads of statistics, and the ability to challenge friends makes the whole package totally worthwhile considering it’s free to download.
The challenges do vary but they’re mostly time or distance based, and already a very competitive has emerged. Having a little background in speedrunning, I’m totally relishing the time-based challenges in particular. Achieving a gold ranking can be difficult yet highly satisfying – and the element of competition feels very real due to the display of other players as on-screen ghosts during gameplay. As stated before the controls feel natural, tight and responsive so there are layers of strategy and complexity to be found for those looking to climb the leaderboard. As of today the international community is already made up of nearly 90,000 gamers so expect to be challenging people from all over the planet.
Along with the traditional run-and-jump platforming we know and love in Rayman games, the Wii-U gamepad is also implemented in the Rayman Legends Challenges App. A particular distance challenge lets gamers take control of Murphy and use the gamepad’s touchscreen to tamper with obstacles (cutting ropes, moving platforms, removing enemies) while a character auto-runs through a level. We first saw this in the demo, as a challenge its even more exciting and works very well. Personally I prefer the more traditional control scheme but gamepad implementation is showing real potential here, so lets hope that come September we see even more of these ideas come to life with the final product.
To conclude: The Rayman Legends Challenges App is totally worth downloading. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s exclusive. Sure, it’s not what we were promised but it’s a whole lot better absolutely nothing .Ubisoft have gone to some real effort to make an apology, and this app is a success in my eyes. Even if it does make us more and more keen for the actual game, it’s something neat to be getting along with.