Rayman Origins on the Mac is a fun, retro side-scroller

Rayman Origins — published by Feral Interactive — is great retro-ish arcade fun, especially now that an old-schooler like me can use a dedicated gamepad with it. More on that in a moment.

The game is designed and directed by Rayman's original creator Michel Ancel and published by Ubisoft for PC and consoles. Now the limbless hero is serving up vibrant fun on the Mac in one of the best side-scrollers in recent memory.

Here's how the game is described: "When a marauding army of the Livid Dead threatens his magical homeland, it's up to Rayman to leap into action and save the day. With a riotous mixture of unique moves, outrageous enemies and boldly psychedelic environments, this is Rayman at his hilarious and heroic best. Players will jump, swim, sprint and hover though over 60 fantastical levels, from a desert of immense didgeridoo formations and bouncy bongo drums to the fiery stomach of a dragon chef. They'll punch out enemies with Rayman's telescopic fists, confound bosses with gravity-defying wall-running and soar through perilous platforming challenges with 'Hairlycopter'-powered gliding."

Up to three other players can join the adventure at any time, taking control of Rayman's buddies with drop-in/drop-out local co-op on a shared screen. 

There's nothing earthshaking about Rayman Origins, but it's charmingly familiar. Our hero jumps, runs, and punches his way through screen after whimsical screen, collecting Lums (the game's version of money). My one complaint: instead of giving you a number of "lives," if you die in Rayman Origins, you go back to the start of the level you were on. Well, okay, two complaints: the introductory video to the game goes on way too long.

However, I can live with this thanks to the fact that the game, like almost all Feral games, now support gamepads. Thanks to this support, playing Rayman Origins on my Mac is just as intuitive as playing a side-scrolling game on a game console. Though the game has increasingly difficult levels, the gamepad support makes it easier for us old-timers who have trouble playing such games with keyboard/mouse commands to run/jump to victory. 

The first thing to do if you want to play with a gamepad is find out which gamepads your game supports. Many of the Feral games have a list of supported gamepads in their FAQs. I'm using an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller and it works fine (though you'll have to have a wireless receiver for this to work; there's no way to implement — as far as I know — wireless gamepad support via Bluetooth on the Mac.)

However, you'll need to download and install a device driver, a piece of software that allows your computer to interact with other pieces of hardware. Feral recommends (and I agree wholeheartedly) Tattiebogle's drivers, which enable you to use both wired and wireless Xbox 360 controllers with Mac games. The drivers are free to download from tattiebogle.net and licensed under the GNU General Public Licence (GPL). (BTW, I found it worked better downloading the driver (disk image) rather than the source (ZIP) file. Install the drivers, and you'll find an Xbox Controllers pane at the bottom of the Mac OS X Systems Preferences app. 

Then make sure the gamepad is switched to DirectInput mode. Not all gamepads have this feature, but those that do have a switch with the options "D" (DirectInput) and "X" (XInput) on either side. Make sure the switch is switched to "D".

Once you've done this, plug your gamepad into your Mac and launch the game.

In most cases, the game will ask you to choose an input method (i.e. the peripheral you will be using to control the game) at the Main Menu. Simply press any button on the gamepad, and the game will recognize it.

Then you're off and (pun intended) running. Whether you're playing solo or with friends, Rayman Origins is a revitalized take on a blast from the past. 

Rayman Origins for the Mac retails for $14.99 and requires Mac OS X 10.8.5 or later. It's available online for direct download from a variety of digital partner sites worldwide including Feral Interactive and the Mac App Store.