Considering the path the Rayman series has taken with the Wii-friendly "Raving Rabbids" brand, Rayman Origins seems about the only appropriate name to title revered gamemaker Michel Ancel's return to the franchise. Albeit, if you're looking for a complete return to form, you may be a bit disappointed.
Rayman Origins is more New Super Mario Bros. Wii than Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc. But, trust me, that's not a bad thing. The game consists of 70+ levels of 2D side-scrolling action playable in single- and multiplayer co-op. As in Nintendo's flagship Wii title, a similar bubble mechanic is present for players who have the misfortunate of falling into pits, hit spikes strewn about, etc.
Every character in the game holds the same basic functions of jumping and attacking, but the gameplay is more than meets the eye in how the levels play out. One level I got to try out, for example, required my cohorts and I to jump on each other to reach a higher platform to get a key and progress to the next section. It didn't seem to get much more complicated than that, but it was good enough to demonstrate that it's not a complete New Super Mario Bros. Wii rip-off.
Of course, and the most obvious aspect in screens, are the visuals that look straight out of a painting come to life with a unique, Tim Burton-esque art style that truly stands out. The developers smartly went with detailed, beautiful animated character models instead of a drab, polygonal mess that would have been undeserving of the Rayman series.
Great aesthetics and solid play mechanics, I'm definitely looking forward to Rayman Origins when it releases later in 2011.