REVIEW: Rayman Jungle Run [iOS]

Not for the first time I stare in consternation as I play the level through perfectly, only to end up 99 out of 100 lums collected. I’ve played through the level seven times now, and for the past three have managed to collect every single little dude I can see. I am totally stumped, and put my phone away as I head out to grab a coffee.

With a little caffeine in my system, I run through the level again, and it hits me: Right at the start, there is a gap I can fall down. Sure enough, the little lum dude is bobbing there happily, so I snatch him up and race to the finish line. I collect another of Death’s ruby teeth, fist-pump with a muted “Yesss!” and put the game back in my pocket, content that I can continue my day without the nagging doubt that I’m a failure as a player.

In brief: Rayman Jungle Run is excellent and you should buy it. No, really. I’m not even kidding, get it right now. Developed by Pastagames in conjunction with UbiArt, Ubisoft’s 2D game division, Rayman Jungle Run takes a lot of what is fun about Rayman and successfully condenses it into a fantastic iOS game.

Having played (and fallen into a love/hate relationship with) last year’s Rayman Origins, I was keen to try out Rayman Jungle Run, and I was not disappointed. Beautiful graphics, intuitive, brilliantly simple game play and great moments of badassery make Rayman Jungle Run one of the single best iOS games I’ve played in months, and even now that I’ve finished the game (and collected every single one of Death’s ruby teeth) I find myself absently playing through levels in an attempt to beat my own high scores.

There are 40 levels overall, 36 of which involve collecting 100 lums (little flying yellow dudes) and four of which involve simply surviving to the end of the level. Once you’ve collected all of the lums in a level, you are rewarded with one of Death’s teeth, which in typical Rayman nonsensery, he had been missing.

New game mechanics are excellently paced, rarely presenting any enormous jumps in difficulty. These include jumping, running up curved surfaces and punching, all of which the game makes sure you master before moving on to the next mechanic. It did take me a little while to get used to the last mechanic, punching, because it suddenly involved having two fingers on the screen controlling different things, but after a few levels I quickly adjusted and was soon gliding through the air and punching the living daylights out of grumpy enemies.

The standout feature in Rayman Jungle Run, however, is the art. The graphics make great use of parallax effects and simple animated scenery to make the world feel very much alive as you fly past. Thorny branches spread across the scream in a relentless vegetative rage, all set to fantastic skyscapes of clouds and sunsets. Palm trees sway gently in the breeze. A lot of careful and loving attention has been paid to the smallest details, and it has really paid off.

[img_big]center,10207,2012-09-19/rjr_s_004.png,Rayman Jungle Run[/img_big]

If I were to level any criticisms at Rayman Jungle Run, it would be the lack of variety in the music. Once you’ve heard the three main jingles going on sixty, seventy times, you really start to appreciate the virtue of silence. That’s not to say that the music is bad: It has exactly the right level of chirp and fun to help you through the often-challenging levels, but a little extra variety would go a long way (and stop my brain from bleeding out my ears).

This is a game where little touches add an enormous amount to the experience: From the slight give of the rope as you slide across to the beautifully animated steam and lava that occasionally presents an obstacle to your progression and the absurdity of Death’s half-toothed grin, this is an excellent addition to the Rayman franchise. I sincerely hope that Pastagames and UbiArt team up to make another, because there’s no doubt in my mind it would be even better.

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