Rayman gets his name in the title of his latest adventure, but he’s sharing the spotlight with a longtime companion. Murfy is a big part of Rayman Legends, and I played through an extended demo to see what he’s capable of. Here are just a few of the cool things he can do in the game.

Poking And Platforms And Wheels, Oh My
Early on, Murfy shows off just how flexible he can be. Players can use him to poke or tickle enemies to temporarily stun them, leaving them vulnerable to Rayman’s attacks. He can also cut ropes that suspend logs and spiked poles. Don’t take a slash first and ask questions later approach, though. Players need to be careful not to cut those ropes without thinking; some collectibles will be inaccessible if a log is angled the incorrect way, for example. In one of my favorite gimmicks, Murfy rotates large wheels that contain spikes and platforms. Rayman and Murfy have to work together to keep the right platforms within reach while avoiding impalement. 

Let Him Eat Cake
In the Fiesta de los Muertos level, Rayman is turned into a duck. As you might imagine, this creates some problems. Fortunately, Murfy is there to save the day. One of the main obstacles in this level comes in the form of giant slabs of cake. Murfy has an insatiable appetite, and he chomps paths for Rayman. It’s not as simple as it sounds, since this happens to be some form of magical regenerating cake. And as with a lot of the Murfy-specific elements, players have to pay careful attention to what they’re doing. Gobble through the most direct path, and you might end up blocking yourself away from a collectible. Or, even worse, you might inadvertently drop a hazardous spiked object in your path.

This particular level drove home how different the Wii U and Vita versions of the game are from their Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 counterparts. On the Wii U and Vita, players drag their paths through the cake using the touchscreen. On the Xbox 360 (and PS3), Murfy orbits the sweet stuff, and players have him take bites by tapping a button. Pressing buttons instead of tapping the screen for actions like flipping switches or cutting ropes didn’t feel out of place, but the cake-eating sections felt a bit strange. Not broken or impossible, but just strange. 

Solid Sneak
I loved the underwater sections in Rayman Origins, and I was happy to see them return in Rayman Legends. The level I played included more than swimming down tight corridors and avoiding urchins. An indoor lair requires Rayman to sneak his way through. Once again, he should consider himself lucky to have a friend like Murfy. Cameras and trip lasers monitor the base, which proves tricky. Fortunately, Murfy can flip switches, moving platforms and other objects around. Depending on where the platforms are, Rayman can hide beneath them as he plots his next move. One of my favorite parts of this area was a frantic back and forth where Murfy flipped vertical and horizontal panels around as I scurried ahead, barely avoiding the beam of the surveillance camera.

Shields, Activated
In this Ancient Greece-themed level, blasts of fire rain from the sky. Alone, Rayman would be singed to a crisp. Murfy proves invaluable here, moving golden shields around to block the fire and serve as platforms. You might sense a theme now – players have to carefully time the moves and test them out first, if at all possible. You never know where a platform will go, and one that you expect to catch a ride from could ultimately be destined to move high out of reach to block the firestorm.

These are the special Murfy abilities I was able to see in the game’s demo version. I’m hopeful that the full version will feature even more gameplay variety – and Murfy abilities – when it ships on the Wii U, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, and Vita on Sept. 3. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners can look forward to a demo in one week, on August 20, 2013.