We didn’t know it at the time, but the launch of Rayman Legends on 30th August 2013 was to be an abrupt end of the line for Rayman’s 2010s resurgence. A direct sequel to 2011s Rayman Origins, Legends received stellar reviews across the board, and sold millions of copies as it spread across numerous platforms, but ten years on and it remains the last mainline Rayman game released by Ubisoft.
The confounding thing about this is that between Rayman Origins series revival and Rayman Legends two years later, it felt as though Ubisoft had struck 2D platforming gold. The controls are exceptionally tight and responsive, while the art direction is sublime – these games pioneered the UbiArt Engine which allowed developers to bring digital art directly into their games – and it featured four player co-op at exactly the right time to appeal to fans of Nintendo’s co-op antics in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and later.
Unfortunately, Origins and Legends just weren’t as successful as Ubisoft hoped – tellingly, it sold best on the Wii U at launch. Rayman Legends might have been reaching 1 million copies sold after a few months on sale, but it would take several years and re-releases on PS4, Xbox One and much later on Switch for it to approach that 4.5 million sales mark. Rayman’s time back in the sun was already at an end.
Rayman continued on in some ways. There was Rayman Fiesta Run for mobile, acting as a sequel to Rayman Jungle Run, and Rayman Mini came in 2019 as a mini-platformer for Apple Arcade. Ubisoft have seemed to relegated Rayman back down to a second tier character, prioritising other franchises. In 2019, a comedy animated series for Rayman, along others, with Ubisoft’s Film & Television arm set to create it. However, as of now there has been no update for the show and it is unclear if those plans are still in place or cancelled.
What does this mean for Rayman then? Well, the character is not completely dead and is making a bit of a comeback in Mario & Rabbids: Sparks of Hope as part of the DLC called Rayman in The Phantom Show, where he is a playable character, using iconic moves like the haircopter to traverse the world and get around in battles. It’s a nice nod back to the origins of the Rabbids as side characters from earlier Rayman games, and a fan-pleasing DLC, to be sure, but when Sparks of Hope also failed to meet expectations, it’s unlikely to be a launchpad for another Rayman revival.
Still, let’s dream a little.
While Rayman Legends was set 100 years after Rayman Origins, a potential Rayman Myths could take a different approach. The main characters could be asleep with Rayman Myths levels based on the dreams that the characters are having, combining the surreal with myths from all over the world. Imagine, the Rayman platformer formula from Origins and Legends being used to explore Atlantis as it sinks, or searching for the Loch Ness monster. The possibilities would be almost endless due to the thousands of myths that exist, and it could even work with Ubisoft’s own historical research used for games in the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
The simple fact is that 10 years ago, Rayman Legends was an impeccable take on the platformer, mixing fun levels that were really well designed, music that was really well composed as well as excellent music levels. Rayman is a character whose time has come again to star in his own game, be it a game that is a continuation of Legends, or a return to 3D. Ubisoft, if you’re listening, the world is ready for Rayman’s return.