When Nintendo announced its Wii U launch-window line up, there were a few games that caught my eye and Rayman Legends was definitely one of them. Looking forward to it being an actual day-one launch title, I ran to my local game shop to put down my pre-order money. Alas, I was dismayed to hear that not only would Legends not be a day-one release, but it was being pushed back to “some time in early 2013″. Boo-urns!

But it seems the folks at Ubisoft and Nintendo have decided to throw me a bone – a little Christmas present to cheer-up this grumpy old gamer: a demo for Rayman Legends.

And what a present it is! While just a small taste, the demo was enough to leave me salivating for more.

Rayman Legends is a Wii U exclusive and sequel to last years critically acclaimed platformer, Rayman Origins. It retains the same wildly colorful and zany hand-drawn graphics that endeared so many to its predecessor. The demo showcases three levels that show a lot of game-play variety, along with competent and innovative use of the Wii U’s gamepad. I felt that the Wii U wasn’t at all a follow up to the Wii, but was really and truly the HD big brother of the DS, which I consider a compliment.

The music and sound, as with all Rayman games, is off the charts and expect it to play an integral part in the game. In one of the demo levels, Castle Rock, Rayman has to outrun a wall of fire on a crumbling castle while a nonsense version of Ram Jam’s rock hit, Black Betty, plays. I can’t tell if it’s your moves that make the music or if everything is just in perfect timing, but I’ll say this – half way through the level I couldn’t stop smiling and by the time it was done, I was actually laughing out loud, something I seldom do when on my own. I wanted more… MOAR! (I actually went and played the level again after writing this paragraph to make sure it was as funny as I was making it sound – it was – it is!)

The controls are spot on, which is essential in any platformer. One of the few faults I found with Origins was that it left too much to memorization as opposed to skill and quick reflexes. While I’m hoping this is corrected in Legends, I don’t want it to come at the cost of making the game too easy, in true Nintendo style.

I’m hoping a lot of Wii U owners play the demo so that they don’t miss out on what could potentially be one of the best side-scrollers of the year. In a jam-packed first half of 2013, it’ll be easy to overlook some titles. Legends could easily suffer from the same fate as Origins, which saw slow sales due to being released the same month as Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim, and on the same day as Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Halo Anniversary. Legends is up against some stiff competition, but with word-of-mouth and some good review scores, this game take off and bring with it a rebirth of excellent side-scrolling adventure games in the HD format that aren’t Mario titles.

Look for this one to hit shelves February 26.