4 reviews liked by poropocho

Day 1 of Hi-Fi Rush:
This seems cool! I like the art style, but I'm still trying to get a handle on the combat.

Day 2 of Hi-Fi Rush:
The beat has infected my soul. I hear the soundtrack even when I'm not playing the game. All of my actions are in time with the beat. I wash my hands to the beat. I chew my food to the beat. I pet my cats to the beat. By the end of the day tomorrow, I will likely be nothing more than a shattered husk, still toe tapping to the beat.

Day 3 of Hi-Fi Rush:
Snap snap clap-clap-clap

HI-FI Rush surprised me in the best way possible! It is a GOTY contender for me already! This is a must play for everyone that owns a series X/S or PC! It is the most refreshing game I’ve played in a long time! A game with tons of style and personality! A rocking time! I have not done the side missions but I have completed the main game which took me 9 hours! So for completeness it’ll probably take you in the 10 hour range!

Gameplay: The gameplay is a blast with guitar music playing which this game has an amazing OST! Hi-FI rush is like if Devil May Cry and Metal Hellsinger had a baby! You attack with a guitar and you are graded based on time, beat timing, and score. I love this system because it will push the player to replay these levels to get the best grade possible. You have heavy attacks and light attacks with being able to dodge, and parry. There are new moves that you can unlock by getting currency found in the levels. You can unlock new chips, and combos! I like this because it adds an incentive to explore how there is also an incentive to explore the world is that you can have collectibles that increase your health or a graffiti for your personal hideout! You are not required to stay on beat which I love because it makes it more accessible and helps me because I suck at staying on beat! You can also make the beat show at the bottom of the screen to help with your timing again with making it accessible! Then you will need to use buddies like Peppermint, Maceron and Korisca for different things. Peppermint you use for shooting shields, Maceron you use for smashing shields and breaking doors, Korsica for powering down generators and putting out fires. Macaron you need to time the punch and Korisca you need to press the button when the pointer is in the green area or else you’ll need to redo the minigame. I like this because it adds to the gameplay rather than just fighting bad guys. Enemies will require you to use those characters for breaking shields, smashing enemy barriers and putting out fire. This again adds to the gameplay which I like but can feel a bit button mashy incase if people do not like button mashy games. This game does have a lot of platforming which I like because it adds variety to the gameplay and is welcome! HI-FI rush also has grappling hook sections which these are a blast! The bosses in HI-FI rush are a spectacle with each one being different in style. I won’t spoil these because you should get to experience them! The last boss has incredible music and is just gorgeous! Overall the gameplay is gold for me with different types of enemies and always new things being unlocked to change up the gameplay! Just gets tedious sometimes with the minigames if you mess them up but on easier difficulties this isn’t much of a problem!

Story: The story is about Chai, a boy who wants to become a future rockstar but ends up being a defect and has to defeat all the villains in order to not be controlled by PROJECT spectra, a technology that controls minds. When you defeat the villains you get their passkey, You need all the villains passkeys to stop PROJECT spectra! I really like this premise with technology involved since I’m a tech guy so It made it relatable! You have buddies like 808 which is a cute robotic cat! Peppermint who is skeptical about you at first but ends up trusting you, Macaron is a big guy that didn’t want to fight but had to! And Korsica which you had to end up fighting but is on your side. You also have a robot. All the characters I like but CHAI I ended up liking so much due to his I get it done my way personality! The cast has many very solid choices like Roger Craig Smith being the main villain Kale Vandelay! The story has its moments and is really good for this type of game. It isn’t a masterpiece but that’s not what I expect out of a rhythm game! The story does its job very well and is good for what it is and the tone it is trying to achieve which isn’t serious!

Hideout: This is a cool feature where you have a little hub. You can do stuff like pet the cat, talk to your crew, decorate it with graffiti that you find. Once you beat the game you unlock side missions about SPECTRA possibly coming back. This is a really smart feature and is very welcome! The side missions I have not played yet but probably are worth a check out! You can also do rhythm tower!

Conclusion: Tango Gameworks took a risk with this and they NAILED it! This is an amazing start to 2023! We don't usually see many games in January! One of the most refreshing games I have played in a while and is a GOTY contender for me already and wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up in my top 5 games for 2023! It might even be my GOTY! This is a strong recommendation for anyone who loves rhythm games! Kudos to the team for making an amazing title! I don’t have many flaws for this at all! I give HI-FI rush a 10/10! Incredible job Tango! Keep on taking bold risks like this and keep innovating! A MUST PLAY!

Not even a month into the year and we have a solid GOTY contender. Just wild to me that they shadowdropped a game this polished and inventive, from an unproven developer in the genre, and not at full price (or as most will probably experience it, on Game Pass). I can't think of a moment in this game where I was bored or not having fun.
Lavish presentation, tight gameplay, good music (even the originals), a good amount of variety, and a simple but surprisingly great story that hits all the right notes. Plus it has a pretty decent suite of post-game unlockables! I earnestly can't think of anything to knock it on outside of maybe a few of the jokes being kinda hit and miss, and even then as the game went on and I understood more what they were going for, the sort of self-indulgent cheesy fun really grew on me.
Absolute must-play, I'm already thinking about my next playthrough, probably later in the year... I hope Tango has more projects like this in the pipeline.

More than anything, the last couple of months have been about learning to love video games again. As such, I’ve been revisiting some of my old ramblings, particularly that of the obstacle course 2D platformer. While I think the original Donkey Kong Country is a prime example of what I’m looking for, there’s always room for improvement, even if I don’t necessarily know what that improvement would look like. I think I might have finally found what I’ve been looking for though; call me basic or nostalgic, but Rayman Legends might just be the most polished and realized momentum-based crash course 2D platformer I've ever played, with easy to pick up but difficult to master character control potential and some of the most vibrant and engaging obstacle escalation in any platformer to date.

Rayman’s toolkit of a standard attack and jump with an extended hover while holding jump seems pretty simple at first, but there’s plenty to master too. Rayman’s dash attack gives an instant burst of speed, and jumping during the spin allows you to preserve horizontal momentum. Learning to minimize these moments of stagnation with break boosting and chaining well-timed spins and jumps with roll-jumping, air-kick cancelling to maintain aerial momentum, and ground-pounds to create hit boxes both above and below you while quickly diving allows for extremely tight platforming, alongside Rayman’s jump control (access to a short hop versus a full jump depending on how quickly jump is tapped) and standard chained attacks. Enemy placement lends well to this need for optimized movement too, since you’ll constantly need to balance throwing out hitboxes to knock out foes/barriers or jumping on enemy heads while finding the right times to maintain speed. The game even handles verticality well, thanks to a simple wall-running mechanic (that doesn’t even require you to build up momentum prior) with quick wall flip jumps as well as standard wall jumping outside of wall runs. Simply put, there is a lot of potential for movement optimization in this game, and it feels absolutely exhilarating pulling it off.

As for the levels themselves, take the design philosophy of the original Donkey Kong Country and turn it up to 11, and you’ve basically got one of the best modern translations of the formula in Rayman Legends while still managing to bring plenty of its own ideas to the table. There’s tons of moving parts and lurking dangers abound in the dreamy levels of the game to force Rayman and pals into action; vines, trampolines, water jets, wind currents, ziplines, swarms of bugs and flaming walls, you name it and they’ve got it. It’s a classic case of slowly introducing new concepts in the form of new movement tech, hazards, and set pieces while slowly interchanging the new with the old and ramping up the danger and tightening the execution until finally, you get to run your victory lap. The difference here between Donkey Kong Country and Rayman Legends is that Rayman Legends extends the obstacle course escalation to an entire world rather than just a single level, allowing the developers to really push their theming and various ideas to their fullest extent while providing more than enough time for players to adapt to the learning curve.

Mark Brown of Game Maker’s Toolkit provides the perfect example of this design philosophy in action, citing the fourth world of the game, 20,000 Lums Under the Sea. Let’s start with the core principle of the world; stealth mechanics in the form of the sentry beams that zap Rayman if he lingers too long in the searchlights. These forced stealth sections are first combined with underwater swimming levels, which I must admit is a such a damn clever combination; what better way to alleviate the painstaking nature of the slower swimming sections and the deliberate and calculated movement of forced stealth sections than to marry the two concepts? That’s just the first level of the world though; the second level is a grounded platforming stage where Rayman has to sneak around sentries with his companion Murphy, using Murphy to press buttons that both create barriers and block sentry searchlights while popping up walls and platforms to create paths forward. Then the third level turns this concept on its head again by starting levels lit-up with electric barriers, and then forcing you to replay the levels backward with the electric barriers replaced with sentry searchlights in stealth mode.

The fourth level, “Infiltration Station,” toys with the ideas of the previously mentioned second level by now replacing the buttons with movable objects; as a result, Rayman must now adapt to Murphy shifting the level by moving cover or even moving the sentries themselves. Then, the fifth level relegates the sentries as the backdrop hazards to a grand ol’ elevator defense, which Rayman must keep track of and avoid while picking off bungee shock gun frogmen straight out of a Mission Impossible movie. Again, it’s important to remember that these levels slowly introduce new level elements aside from the main gimmicks (invincible underwater worms, laser trip detectors, skull-marked naval mines, etc), but ultimately it is the synthesis and variation of the elements (i.e. inserting enemies in sentry-guarded zones, or using the mobile worms and stationary mines as mandatory cover against searchlights) that makes the difficulty so versatile. This all comes together in the sixth level, “There’s Always a Bigger Fish,” where every introduced obstacle in the arsenal is thrown at Rayman as he furiously paddles away from a snapping serpent in a frenzied auto-runner/chase sequence. Finally, after the penultimate level that serves as a boss fight against yet another hostile Frankensteined mechanical beast, you get to reap the rewards in a final musical obstacle course dubbed “Gloo Gloo,” where your platforming and swimming actions in-game are synced to the beats of a whimsical cover of “Woo-Hoo”. It’s such a pleasure mastering these playable music videos and knowing that your survival is the only thing keeping the music at full blast.

As you can probably guess from the musical endnotes of each world, Rayman Legends is absolutely no slouch at atmosphere and presentation. Theming in every world is extremely distinct and yet remains focused to where level elements never really feel out of place or excessively repetitive. You go from navigating these tight, booby trapped castles in Teensies in Trouble to carefully gliding and maneuvering massive beanstalks in Toad Story, to dodging cake eating centipedes and fending off scores of luchadores and mariachi skeletons in Fiesta de los Muertos. Every new world has its own unique focus on gameplay mechanics (swinging axe and ropes courses in Teensies in Trouble, windy, open air plant-infested levels in Toad Story similar to that of the bramble levels in Donkey Kong Country 2, and Murphy quite literally playing with his food to progress past hazards in Fiesta de los Muertos), and the dynamic comic book visuals of the UbiArt framework as well as the extensive orchestral + electronic mixes in the soundtrack really bring it all home. To top it all off, there’s just this joyous and infectious energy embedded in every detail of the game, from the punchy and expressive attacks and sound effects, to the backing “Ooooooh” track that plays every time you stumble upon a secret, to the Teensies themselves cheering and giggling like schoolchildren when you bump into them in the main gallery. I can’t help but grin and chuckle like a madman every time I pick up this game; it’s just dopamine in distilled video game form.

There have been a few complaints here and there that Rayman tends to lean towards the easier side, at least with regards to many of the main story levels. That’s where the invasion and challenge levels come in. The challenge levels are straightforward enough; compete against the world in a daily/weekly generated survival and/or speedrunning contest for glory, and lums/”Awesomeness points” for more cosmetic palette swaps if you want to change up your character model every now and then. More importantly, you’ll get an alert every now and then that goons from previous worlds have come to “invade” the dreams of previous stages, and be invited to partake in a timed invasion stage, where you must rush to the end against a new combination of foes in a different theme. This concept even gets its own twist when after beating the game, Shadow Rayman invasion levels are unlocked, where a dark copy of you follows in close pursuit and both keeps you moving while carefully planning out your route as so you don’t stumble into your duplicate while backtracking. These levels really force you to use every tool at your disposal to optimize your strategy and beat the clock, and it almost becomes that of a puzzle game but with extremely tight execution involved as well.

I love examples, so have another one on me just so I can illustrate how batshit crazy this gets. In the Shadow Rayman invasion variant of “Infiltration Station,” you have to pick off sequential droves of enemies in order to unlock the door to the next room and eventually free your Teensie friends at the end. From the starting position of the second room, you first have to take out the frog goon on the left while then immediately destroying the bones barrier below. Since there’s a Shadow Rayman copy following me, I dash attacked into the goon then immediately wall-jumped and slammed through the barrier, landing on an enemy that spawned directly below me and then bouncing and air kicking the newly spawned enemy to the right on the platform. From there, I hold down the right trigger and jump out to the ring and back on top to the platform previously above me, kicking the buff brawler in the face. Then, I full jump out towards the ring to avoid my shadow and hover for a second so another toad can finish spawning in and land on the ground, allowing me to slam to its side and end its misery. I immediately input a jump upon landing since there’s no enemy to bounce off of this time and air kick the last toad brawler on the platform, land on the platform, and break boost by immediately spin dashing to the left off the platform towards the door once obscured by a vine and make my exit. Here’s a quickly sketched schematic of my “optimized” route that takes about nine seconds when executed well, and if you think this is fast… the world record for the whole four room affair takes less than double the time it took for me to just finish the second room alone. Needless to say, the thrill of improving both my execution and pathing while directly competing against others on the leaderboard is definitely a crucial component that keeps me coming back for more.

If I really had to nitpick, then my only complaint is that some of the Back to Origins content (the forty returning stages from Rayman Origins) feel a bit out of place. While the main platforming stages still feel tightly constructed, with the classic escalation and variation of moving elements and hazards formula for mechanical depth aided by carefully hidden short side corridors for goodies and bonus rooms, there are unfortunately one too many horizontal shoot em up segments (both in the form of full Origins levels and bonus room challenges) thrown into the array that feel like abrupt breaks in the natural flow of things. To be fair, this is at least alleviated by two factors. Firstly, the Back to Origins content is not necessary at all to unlock the main stages of Legends (in fact, you can even just focus on Legends content exclusively and still have enough Teensies to unlock the 8-bit bonus music levels), and are randomly earned from scratching Lucky Tickets that come as their own reward for collecting enough Lums in main stages; thus, I always saw the Origins levels more as bonus content if anything. Secondly, even within the shmup segments themselves, there’s a fair bit of variety thanks to the wrinkles thrown in (namely through the ability to suck certain enemies/obstacles and shoot them back out to deal more damage, as well as the reflective surfaces that let you bounce shots off and levers/switches thrown into stages that present a less “harmful” but just as engaging obstacle to contend with) as well as the expressive theming that the game’s known for to mitigate any staleness. Nevertheless, even if I think this is a minor gripe considering that the final product is definitely more than the sum of its parts, I do acknowledge that the bonus content would have felt even more gratifying if they had cut the number of shmup sections in half and replaced them with the engaging platforming that Rayman Origins & Legends exemplify.

One last disclaimer for the road: a couple of years ago, the servers for Rayman Legends on PC were shut down, effectively closing leaderboards and barring players from accessing any challenge levels on PC copies. If global kudos and constantly generated online challenges are a defining draw for you, then you may want to consider picking up a console copy of Rayman Legends instead, where the servers are still up. That said, PC players can still mod the game offline to create their own challenges, and I have heard that some Rayman community discords have been running custom challenges themselves in spirit of the old system (though I haven’t been able to confirm), so perhaps not all hope is lost.

I suppose they don’t call it Rayman Legends for nothing; even while considering some minor design decisions that could have been improved, the overall game is one of the most cohesive and mechanically deep 2D platformers I’ve experienced to date that never fails to put a smile on my face. This really is one of the most replayable and fundamentally fulfilling platformers that I’ve ever played, and it absolutely deserves to be included in the conversation as one of the greatest 2D platformers of all time. It is a shame that as rich as the series has been (at least, in the two Rayman games I’ve played to date), that Rayman himself has seemingly fallen to the wayside while his creator, Michel Ancel, has been rather busy with the development hell of Beyond Good & Evil 2, until he left the project and Ubisoft altogether two years ago. Ubisoft’s been in a bit of an unsurprising rough patch since, having cancelled three unannounced games and “facing major challenges” in the form of underselling titles, so I’ll just say what’s on everyone’s mind: bring back Rayman, Ubisoft. It’s been eight years since Legends, and the boy deserves so much more. Don’t let these greats go out like this; we may still have the classics, but future generations ought to know that once upon a time, there was once (and perhaps still is) a platforming legend that reached the heights of Mario, Donkey Kong, and so many others while always remaining true to itself.