This is the game that brought me back to mobile gaming.
Hey everyone, it’s been a while, eh? I won’t lie, I’ve lost interest in mobile gaming over the past year or so, and thus my contributions to TouchGen have been practically non-existent. Interestingly, the last game that really glued me to my iPhone before my long hiatus was Rayman Jungle Run. You might remember that this game won our iPhone Game of the Year award last year along with several other wins and nominations. It’s not surprising then that Rayman Fiesta Run is the title that has rekindled my excitement for mobile games, and for good reason.
Fiesta Run sticks to the core mechanics of the original game. This is not an infinite runner like Temple Run or Jetpack Joyride, but instead is made up of a series of platforming levels, each with an end goal. The game let’s you control the limbless Rayman as he jumps, glides, and punches his way through a huge number of thirty to sixty-second stages. The controls are tight, the artwork is beautiful, and the animations are a joy to watch. That said, what makes this game better than it’s predecessor are the various improvements and additions – one of which I never thought I would ever praise for a paid mobile title: in-app purchases.
Remember those cute little Lums that you had to collect in Jungle Run to complete a level? You still have to collect 100 of them like before, but now you can spend them to buy power-ups at the beginning of each stage. These power-ups can be extremely helpful when you become frustrated with the difficulty of a certain stage and want to get through it with varying levels of assistance. There are hearts that let you take a couple extra hits from enemies, punch gloves that let you shoot destroy objects or enemies from across the screen, and even an upgrade that draws a path in front of you to show you how to grab all the Lums you can. If you’re preparing to write an angry comment as you read this, hold on! These upgrades are completely unnecessary if you don’t want to use them. On top of that, they are quite reasonably priced using Lums (the in-game currency) if you do.
I’m around 90% finished with the game (getting 100 stars on both the first and second versions of each level) and I have yet to use a single power-up other than for testing purposes. Even if you wanted to use the power-ups, you probably won’t need to actually purchase any Lums in-game (which are priced at $.99, $1.99, or $2.99 for packs with increasing amounts). In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was immediately gifted 4,000 lums from owning the original Jungle Run game, no strings attached. I’m currently sitting at around 9,500 Lums, meaning I would have 5,500 Lums on my own even without that bonus. Aside from power-ups, you can also use Lums to buy new playable characters (they are strictly cosmetic) and mobile wallpapers. I applaud Ubisoft for creating a game that doesn’t even remotely punish paying customers for not buying in-game items. They are there if you want to use them, and that’s it.
The other great addition to Rayman Fiesta Run provides some good incentive to complete each level with all 100 Lums intact. When you do this, a special “invaded” version of the original level will unlock. This version features far more enemies and different paths to take, and are generally exponentially more difficult than their original offering. As someone who dedicates to “5-starring” or “100 percenting” games, these levels provided a welcome challenge. In general, the progression in Fiesta Run feels more fluid and interesting than the original game. Each level you beat will reveal more of the world map, thus unlocking new levels, new characters, new artwork, and even packs of free Lums along the way.
It’s rare that a game, especially one that introduces in-app purchases, can improve itself on practically every way, but Rayman Fiesta Run does just that. It’s still a gorgeous game that now offers a healthy helping of more difficult levels for those who want a challenge. If you’re a casual player who needs a bit of help, help is waiting for you, probably without having to pay a dime. But if you’re like me, and welcome the thrill of defeat over and over again as you learn each new level until you can gloat in a satisfying 100% score, than there’s no need pay anything past the price of admission. No, you don’t need to grind. You just need to learn each new level like any platforming game from today or 25 years ago. It’s fun, it’s beautiful, and it’s ultimately refreshing in a market where both free-to-play and premium games are shoving in-app purchases down our throats. Rayman Fiesta Run is looking to keep our yellow-haired friend in the TouchGen awards for a second year, and you can be damn sure it deserves whatever it wins.