Rayman Legends [Beta / Concept]

Rayman Legends [Beta / Concept]

Rayman Legends is a 2D platformer by developer, Ubisoft Montpellier, and the follow-up to Rayman Origins. It was released in 2013 on Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Vita and PC. It originally started as a Wii U exclusive, billed as a launch title for the console’s November 2012 release.

Leaked NFC Concept Trailer

On April 27 2012, the very first footage of Legends emerged online. This was a conceptual video intended for internal purposes only, which was leaked by an anonymous source on YouTube from inside Ubisoft.

The build of the game shown in the reel wasn’t terribly different from the final release, but it did reveal one quite significant feature that was never implemented; nearfield communication support. Towards the end of the clip, it demonstrates a work-in-progress concept for NFC figures, which would have worked with the Wii U gamepad’s built-in chip.

Rayman NFC

Ubisoft’s video contained two uses of the proposed accessories: a heart figure, which would replenish the player’s health and a Rabbid toy that would cause Rabbids to appear in the game as enemies, as well as in the backgrounds of levels. Towards the end of the video, it hints towards the possibility of other Ubisoft characters, when a figure of Ezio from the Assassin’s Creed series appears.

Mysteriously, the company never followed through on this NFC demo, in spite of the somewhat elaborate nature of the conceptual document. It appears that prototype figurine models were made and their planned in-game affects were programmed, but none of this would ever be officially released to the public.

You can tell that Ubisoft was working with a prototype version of the Wii U hardware when this was made, as it includes an early, wired dev kit gamepad, which was without the NFC badge on the left of the controller. Therefore, the actors in the trailer placed the figures on the screen instead.

Changes Over Leaked Prototype

Although the two versions, the final build and the prototype seen above, aren’t drastically different; we can ascertain a small handful of changes by carefully analysing the footage.

For one, it’s evident that the team had yet to come up with the idea of using the character of Murfy to give context to the gamepad screen mechanics (or at least hadn’t implemented him into the gameplay at this point). Previously seen as a guide in Rayman 2, Murfy appears during specific sections of Legends whenever you interact with levels using the touch screen. Said touch-controlled elements are demonstrated in the video, but Murfy does not appear.

Rayman Gamepad Screen

The video also offers a look at an early version of the ‘Challenges’ mode. In the released game, players can compete in short challenges issued on a daily and weekly basis. These include, for instance, endless runner stages in which you compete against others around the world via an online ranking system.

However, as you can see here, Ubisoft had an idea for something quite different. It appears they initially were considering more prominent social gaming elements, wherein you would have been able to create and issue your own challenges to friends.

The final interface for the mode is completely revised from the one shown here and although you can compete against friends with the finished game, you can only do so in the rotation of challenges set by Ubisoft themselves.

Rayman Legends Challenges Mode Comparison

Strangely, the leaked design mentions an in-game currency called “Rubis”, although no such thing exists in the game we know today. It seems that you would have needed to pay these ‘rubis’ to play challenges, unlike the final game, that has no entry requirement in order to play them. In addition, the menu specifies a locale named “Ghost’s Pit”, but there are no levels under this name in Legends. Perhaps, this was a working title for another one of the mode’s settings.

At the closing of the clip, an alternative version of the title’s logo arrives on screen. It is largely identical the completed asset, but sports one or two minor differences. The leaked logo used 3D-looking renders around the text, whereas the final one used silhouetted 2D art. The font used for the word “Legends” was made thicker, too.

Rayman Legends Logo Comparison

Unreleased Beta Levels Concepts

Originally, Ubi Montpellier had planned to include a world which they were calling “Chateau Dracula“, which roughly translates to “Dracula Castle“. As you might assume, these stages were to be set within the realms of a large gothic castle. They spanned the outer gardens, through to its macabre interior, which included a dining room and cellar area. You also would have been able to traverse the rooftops.

One of the team’s visual development artists has shared with us some concept art of these stages. As we understand it, they were never prototyped and sadly, only ever remained as still images. Regardless, they offer a good idea of what the developers had planned, given the implicitly small gap between Legends’ concepts and actual in-game graphics.

During a presentation various members of the development crew gave about Legends’ use of the Ubi Art engine, Michael Ancel briefly discussed the unreleased Dracula-themed locale. The designer gave a few examples of gameplay ideas the team had come up with for it, such as hiding within beams of sunlight from the windows to fend off vampiric bat creatures and using French topiary as platforms in the surrounding courtyard. You can see more images of the concepts in the video below.

On the subject of whether or not these levels would ever see the light of day (pun not intended), Ancel simply said “well, maybe one day”. As of October 2014, Ubisoft has announced no plans for DLC or a sequel containing these concepts. According to one artist who worked on the game we spoke to, time and budget constraints prevented these beta designs from being realised.

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Liam Robertson

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