theuselessgod's Rayman: Jungle Run (iPhone) review

A runner that's more than meets the eye.

The Short

Pros

- Fun twist on the "runner" genre

- Livid Dead levels are a fun, difficult challenge

- Graphics look gorgeous on a retena screen

- Game does a good balance of rewarding powerups to improve difficulty

- Great "pick up 'n play" game

- Has free DLC

- Not hampered by microtransactions

- Only $2

Cons

- Could have used more levels

- Simplistic platforming might irritate some

I was runnin...

The Long

It's no secret I'm a big fan of iOS games. Short, usually simple experiences that sate your video game fix on the go for a hefty discount. Games like 10,000,000 and Game Dev Story can be content rich (and, at times, complex) while still being loads of fun and budget priced.

Something I'm sick of, however, is the "runner" style games on the iOS store. There's plenty of these out there, some more popular ones being Canabalt, Jetpack Joyride, Monster Run, and I Must Run! Basically you endlessly run to the right, dodging obstacles forever until you run into something and die. It's a score chase, it's mindless, and there's too many of them.

So when I heard they were making a Rayman game that was a "run" game, I was a bit turned off. Yeah, I loved the crap out of Rayman Origins, but I didn't want fond memories of that game tarnished by a weak knock-off. However, after hearing a few good reviews and seeing how downright pretty this game is, I dived in.

And guess what? Rayman Jungle Run is a superb platformer in every respect, that certainly goes above the concept of both a "runner" game and an iOS platformer.

The game certainly looks like Rayman

Jungle Run takes the basic ideas from Rayman Origins, strips them down, and leaves a game that is both easy to learn and difficult to master. It plays somewhat similarly to runner games in that Rayman will always automatically run to the right, but what differentiates this game is that there's actual level design here. It isn't an endless runner like many might think; instead, it's got similar platforming to Origins, just axing the manual directional control that would normally be handled by the D-pad. As such, you are left with three very simple options: jump, hover, and attack. And the game has worlds devoted entirely around these mechanics, just to be sure you'll learn them. Oh, and the wall run move. Can't forget that.Because this game has actual levels, it feels more like an actual platformer than many other iOS platformers that offer full control. To be honest, removing directional controls (a finicky thing on a touch screen) was probably the best idea for this touch-only game, as they obviously designed the levels around the "always running" mechanic. This leaves a bunch of levels that are both challenging and fun, while still being easy and not having touch-controls trying to bottleneck you at every turn. It was a smart design choice, and it pays off in spades.

Lums are still the goal of the game.

While the levels are usually not too challenging to get through in terms of traversal, the real goal is to collect all the Lums (those little golden dudes) on every stage. That is where the game's challenge comes in. If you can get all 100 Lums, you earn a tooth for Death. Get enough teeth in a world, and you unlock that world's Land of the Livid Dead stage, a super challenging gauntlet that can often feel more like rote memorization rather than actual skill. Still, these uber-difficult unlocks are appreciated, as they feel like a good capstone to the skill you learned in each world. They also add a lot of replayability, as each level is usually under a minute long, so replaying it over and over to try and get all the Lums quickly becomes priority.There were originally four worlds (five now, with DLC), each with ten levels if you count the bonus Livid Dead levels. That's a total of fifty levels for $2, which is certainly not a bad deal, but I wouldn't have minded more considering how easy the first world is. Still, it's easy to pick up, hopelessly addicting, and controls great. You can't ask for a more perfect iOS experience.

Good luck with that coin.

This game also looks downright gorgeous on an iOS screen. The fact it looks nearly identical to Rayman Origins is a credit to the developers considering the downgrade in hardware, and the bright colors pop out vividly on the retena display. It looks great on an iPhone, but on an iPad it's downright spectacular, easily being one of the best looking iOS games artistically.Music is also good, with a few select tunes from Origins, though it doesn't quite reach the awesome level that Origins' music provided. Still, I play most iOS games with the sound off, and the game plays fine silent as well. So that's a plus too.

I have very little bad to say about this game.

Jungle Run isn't Origins. It's stripped down, to be sure, to accommodate for the touch screen and mobile status of a phone. But despite that, Ubisoft has created one of the best iOS platformers I've ever experienced. By removing what is often a developer's biggest hang up for these types of games (analog directional control on a touch screen) and focusing instead on building levels around the running mechanic, they've created a game that's fun, a good challenge, addicting, and excellently controlled. My only gripe is I wish there was more of it, something they seem to be fixing with free DLC.If you have any affinity for these types of games, on console or otherwise, you should do yourself a favor and grab Jungle Run. I mean...come on. It's $2. You can't even buy lunch with that.

Four out of five stars.

Fire is still bad, though. Just...in case you forgot.

More at http://nathanvsvideogames.blogspot.com

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