There are two schools of thought about this game. Well, I say ‘there are’ like thousands of gamers are debating in forums across the net, but in reality the voices are all in my head. Oh yeah, now you really want to continue reading this review. The videogame diary of a TouchGen madman.
But here’s what I’m getting at. Rayman Jungle Run is a Rayman game. On iOS. This alone is a wonderful thing – Rayman is an iconic and well-recognised videogame character, so to have him on our iDevices is always welcome.
And yet, it’s an auto-runner. I don’t know about you, but I get a bit tired when iOS game templates are cloned ad-infinitum (see: Temple Run, Infinity Blade, Angry Birds), and I’m sure I’m not the only one who would’ve hoped for Rayman to appear properly rather than a genre done 400+1 times before. Gameloft did have a go at this with Rayman 2: The Great Escape, but it wasn’t what you would have hoped for if you’re a Rayman fan. It also shows up on my phone as Rayman 2: The Great E, making me think they’d made a game about Rayman’s first experience with class-A drugs. Anyway, as your intrepid games reporter, I’ve got to review what’s in front of me and score it on merit, not on what could’ve been.
It’s a good thing too, because Rayman Jungle Run is pretty darn brilliant.
I could tell from the title screen this game was going to be gorgeous. That screen is better looking half the AppStore titles could manage for a whole game. If it passed you in the high street, you’d be sure to look more than twice. That’s ignoring the fact that if Rayman passed you in the high street, you’d probably wonder if you were losing your faculties. Seeing it in action feels like you’re watching a high quality cartoon. The shading, lighting and attention to detail is fabulous.
It looks good in screenshots. Heck, it looks like a painting. But wait till you see it in action. The animation is probably the best I’ve seen on iOS. ‘Slick’ doesn’t do it justice (I even tried a thesaurus for another word, but ‘greasy’ probably wouldn’t work). Remember the first time you saw a Pixar movie? Well that has no relevance actually, but do yourself a favour and YouTube it if you don’t believe me.
It’s a side scrolling runner set in a jungle, and the environments are also eye-catching. It’s strictly 2D, but the layering effects used to create depth work very well, and the levels are full of kinetic energy which have you bouncing off walls, climbing, swinging and of course, running. The speed isn’t quite as breakneck, but it’ll almost remind you of a Sonic title. You’ll want to slow down at points just to get a good look at all the great visual work that’s gone into the stages, and it’s definitely a game you’d be just as happy to watch someone else playing as yourself.
Rayman runs without prompt. All you have to do is tap the screen to make him jump around the place, score one for simple control schemes. Your aim is to make it to the end of the level while traversing jumps and climbs while collecting as many fireflies, or Lums as they’re known, as possible. If you miss 100%, do it again. And again. And again. When you finally collect everything the stage has to offer, satisfaction reigns.
And that’s why it’s addictive as heck. Catching all those Lums takes accurate timing, especially as once you’ve run past them, you can’t turn back. And instinctively, you will actually try to turn back to collect what you’ve missed, only to succumb to the fact that this is not a traditional platformer and let Rayman continue his mad dash. In fact, this, combined with the lovely looking levels (alliteration for the win), might make you wonder why this isn’t a traditional platformer. It would’ve been easy to slow things down and let you control Ray-Ray at your own pace. Then again, let me take my own earlier advice and review the game in front of me.
Later stages introduce a couple of new skills for our…our…what the heck is Rayman anyway? You’ll get access to an attack which helps you to melee enemies right in their mug, as well as a matrix style wall-running ability. This helps you to…run up walls. Duh.
You also gain the ability to hover in mid-air like David Blaine, although without the camera tricks. Whoops, did I just give away that secret? This particular ability isn’t quite as fun to use as the other two, simply because it’s slightly less intuitive as punching or speeding up walls. Indeed, with the wall-running skill, you don’t even have to do anything, it happens automatically. The hover seems to break the flow of the gameplay. Not a deal breaker by any means though.
This is indeed a great game package. The presentation displays a lot of love, appreciation of detail and artistic talent. The music is excellently produced and has just as much whimsical personality as the visuals, and you can even unlock a range of wallpapers for your phone as you progress. What more do you want?
A traditional platformer you say? Meh. Give me an auto-runner any day.
Kevin is available on Twitter @dreagleg. See you there.