As soon as I viewed the preview for Rayman Jungle Run I was impressed by how great it seemed. I thought to myself, “If Rayman managed to do so great on home consoles, picture what he could do when mobile!” Seriously, who’d have thunk that Ubisoft would rock the 2D platform genre so well?
What’s frequently the largest shortcoming of any touch-established platformer? The controls, naturally. The more virtual buttons a game attempts to squeeze on the display, the more likely the game will neglect to register your input signals. Without tactile feedback, it is difficult to tell when you are outside the input signal detection border of the button until you tap the screen and nothing occurs.
Rayman Jungle Run has none of these issues. Since you’re always moving the only thing you really have to be concerned with is dodging the crap that comes at you. This is a true platformer with floating stages, spikes, enemies, chasms, wall jumps, and other risks that make the simple controls a joy to use.
Each world in the game introduces a fresh skill, giving you lots of time before the next one appears to grow accustomed to a specific way of playing. In the first world, all you need to do is leap around and get used to everything.
In the second, you get the hover skill, which is performed by holding your finger on the display once you’re airborne, which you may also use to get air currents that lift you higher. The 3rd world has you running on walls, which has some very fun challenges involved. In the very last world, you learn the best way to pound through enemies and wooden barricades along your route. Hitting is mapped to another button in the bottom right corner which, unlike the jump button, must be pressed, but it is not small enough that you will never unexpectedly miss your chance to smash.
Reaching the end of a phase is fairly easy, but your true aim in the game is to grab as many Lums as possible. Lums are the gold firefly-like critters located in every Rayman game. There are 100 Lums in each area, and discovering them all will need you to miss certain spots, to take more dangerous courses, or find concealed doors. If you manage to find every single Lum in at least 5 different areas of a world you’ll be able to unlock the 10th level for that specific world. Here, there are not any Lums, just a heightened risk of sudden death. Happily, as with the rest of the game, this deadlier level tends to only be a minute in length, so if you want to do a restart of a specific stage you needn’t worry about lost progress.
The icing on the cake with this game is the artwork, which has been pulled straight from Rayman Origins. Ordinarily, I’d call a game company out for reusing copious quantities of assets, but the images are wonderful and vibrant, so much so that I don’t have any issues with their reappearance here. This is a game you play with a grin while nodding your head along to cheerful music.
Sadly, the game ends up finishing fullstop upon conclusion of the final stage. There isn’t any fanfare, no “congratulations” display, only a boot back to the main menu. Feels somewhat sudden, but I do not understand why I was anticipating anything. Jungle Run is simply a string of narrative-less challenges, but it is so satisfying that at times you will become mistaken into believing it is a part of something larger, if that makes any sense. Not actually a poor “issue” to have.
That is not to say Jungle Run does not offer rewards for the committed player. As your Lums collection grows, you can earn wallpaper to use for whichever phone you happen to be playing on. Sure, it is not much, but how frequently does a game award prizes beyond the game itself? The challenges are enough on their own, so these are just some nice extras.
Rayman Jungle Run is evidence that touch controls can be work for platformers if you tailor them to the hardware as opposed to trying to recreate how it should be on a game console. Had this just been a watered down port of Rayman Origins, there would be plenty of comparisons that were direct and emphasized the defects of touch-based gameplay. Instead, it is a game with small enjoyable play sessions and reasonable controls with the fun of its console brothers.