Ah Rayman, my floating, physics-defying friend from my PlayStation 1, it’s been a long time! I heard you went to the Wii for a while but I’m glad to see you back on a real gaming platform. And I’m not the only one. Rayman has captured the hearts of millions of kids and adults alike with his non-stop running, jumping, flying, punching, psychotic ways. It’s like parkour except on acid.
However, when console games begin crossing over to touchscreen devices we wonder whether or not they’ll loose their magic along the way. This curiosity, as well as my nostalgia for the Rayman experience, pushed me to try Jungle Run, the latest release in the Rayman series that’s available for Android.
The last time I played Rayman was over a decade ago. I’ve seen subsequent releases throughout the years but never bothered to try them out — I guess when GTA and Metal Gear Solid come into your gaming life, something has to leave. Nevertheless, I found myself reminiscing my childhood happiness while downloading it onto my tablet.
My first impression of the game was definitely positive. After a brief loading screen, the main man himself greeted me playing his trademark ukulele, relaxing on a hillside. The visuals are simply stunning with crisp lines, defined character features and good animation on anything that moves. And that’s just the home screen.
The game is divided into four different sections; jumping, flying, punching and wall-running. Each section contains nine different levels with a score calculated by way of jewels collected. To move onto the next section, the previous one must be completed. The overall objective is to unlock new powers and to progress onto harder levels. Rayman Jungle Run keeps surprising the player at every turn with new obstacles, environments, animations and challenges.
Like any platform game, points are collected by smashing through in-game objects, in this case flying creatures amongst others. However, I found this to be my least concern when playing. With the speed of the game and the rapid thought required particularly as you progress, you find that Rayman will simply collect points on his own by sprinting through them at lightening speed. So I simply started to ignore them, but I might go back later to collect them all for a perfect score.
DotEmu, the developers that ported the game to Android, have simplified the controls to a one-tap-only system. Rayman will simply never stop moving unless blocked by an obstacle. By tapping the screen you perform that section’s action — jump, fly and so on. I like this choice for two reasons. First, Jungle Run hasn’t tried to emulate a console, something which I feel too many mobile games do and end up frustrating players with complicated controls that don’t work well on a touchscreen. Second, it makes the gameplay faster and more addictive. Bouncing off bubbles, flying through mazes and swinging from vines are all much more difficult when you can’t stop to think.
Unlike a lot of Android games, I feel I could really sink my teeth into Rayman. Sure there’s no storyline or enthralling suspense but the fun of it all keeps you playing. Rayman is not something you just play on the bus, it’s a platformer you can sit and enjoy for over an hour’s play at a time.
Things Done Right
I would like to praise the soundtrack of this game. There are a few different tunes spurring our hero forward, from Latin jazz to quaint natural noises. But my hat comes off to whoever included the hillbilly chipmunk song. I couldn’t stop laughing for the whole level!
Also, as you progress, your gallery which is accessible from the main menu will unlock more high resolution character pictures which can be set as your wallpaper. This feels like a bonus feature for the fans, and is something I took full advantage of!
For anyone who has played Rayman before, the first section (jumping) will become tiring. All the levels are pretty much identical, without really getting any longer or introducing new challenges to the user. While I know games have to be introduced progressively to users to lower the learning curve — particularly as kids are also attracted to this kind of game — I still think the first quarter of the game could have done with more spicing up. After this however, Jungle Run really opens up and becomes a lot more enjoyable.
In one word, Rayman Jungle Run is beautiful. If the gameplay doesn’t hit the spot, the visuals and the soundtrack certainly will. Every single second of this game is a delightful feast for the senses filled with colourful environments, great cartoon style animations and awesome sound.
Jungle Run provides hours of fun for a small couple of euros investment, and it will definitely entertain you whether you have a tablet or a phone.
Taking the entire mobile gaming scene into focus for a moment, it’s easy to see why the likes of Sony with their PS Vita are become increasingly worried of Android. In fact, with games like this and many others available, I find it astonishing that standalone gaming devices continue to sell. However, with big publishers like Ubisoft stepping from dedicated consoles onto mobile, their days seem to be numbered. And that’s all to our advantage, in the Android community.