If all Wii U games are going to be as creative with the new tablet controller as Rayman Legends then I think the controller may have validated its existence. At PAX 2012 I got my first chance to play Rayman as well as my first chance to get some good quality time with the Wii U and both worked in tandem to blow my socks off. Hit the jump for the hands-on.
Playing with a partner (a very endearing member of the audience) we took turns switching between the new character, Barbra the Barbarian, and the fairy guide…thing. While our female raider was controlled by the Wii remote, the glowing floating fairy thing whose name I didn’t catch was controlled by the Wii tablet.
Right off the bat Ubisoft wanted to show that the Wii pad was really all that was necessary when playing as the fairy. Everything you could see on screen could also be seen on the Wii pad’s screen and no, there was absolutely no difference in quality between the two. It was really amazing to see everything displayed on the HD TV in front of us being replicated on the Wii Pad’s screen but it is about as close to 1:1 parity as my eyes could discern.
Controlling the tablet specific character in Rayman Legends involved sliding your finger to guide it. He can also grab enemies and hold them for your barbarian partner to attack, and he can discover hidden treasure by tapping on various level elements. But he plays a much more involved role than just collecting little tidbits here and there. This little guy is necessary to advance in some cases.
When I started the demo I was told that I could see everything that’s happening on the large television in front of us on my Wii tablet screen and then some. By this she meant that I was also privy to information that my partner was unaware of while traveling. One specific example was a platforming puzzle but with hidden platforms that only I could see on my smaller tablet screen. With this knowledge I was to point out where it was safe to jump and where would lead my partner to doom. For the most part it was a demonstration of the visual power of the Wii pad and of the various uses for it. Whether it falls beyond the realm of gimmicky is subjective, but I’ll tell you that I had an incredibly joyous time playing around the Wii pad.
Switching midway through the demo I was now playing Barbra the Barbarian on the Wii remote. Having played Rayman Origins I can tell you that she essentially plays like the regular platforming characters of the series. Jumping, attacking, hovering, and running are all tight and precise and running through a level is as intense and exhilarating as you would come to expect from the series. The only thing was that this particular run also had rhythm game elements which my partner on the tablet was experiencing. This just showcased some of the amazing music that came from the game however and didn’t get in the way of the pure platforming bliss that is Rayman.
Expect Rayman Legends sometime in Q4 2012 exclusively for the Wii U.