GAME OF THE DAY: Rayman Jungle Run

Ubisoft’s limbless platforming hero has made a comeback over the past twelve months – and as of today he’ll show iOS and Android gamers why.

When the Wii arrived in 2006, Rayman was upstaged by the lobotomised, initially funny and now far-too-prominent Rabbids and their cartoonish mini-game collections. But in 2011, he reminded the world why he first rose to fame in the critically acclaimed and beautiful 2D platformer Rayman Origins.

The console game has since made its way to new platforms in 3DS and PlayStation Vita, and a follow-up is even heading to Wii U in the form of the eagerly awaited Rayman Legends. But smartphone gamers, arguably the biggest gaming audience on the planet, hasn’t had a look in. Until now.

Rayman: Jungle Run, an auto-run platformer, may sound dangerously like a Temple Run clone, but the game is closely related to Origins: a fluidly animated Rayman running, flying and jumping his way through exotic 2D worlds rendered in a lush artistic style. It is a feast for the eyes, but that’s not the main appeal.

The auto-run mechanic means that Rayman will constantly dash towards the right of the screen like a floppy-haired Usain Bolt, automatically climbing over small obstacles but stopping when he reaches anything taller. Players only control one action to guide him to the end of each level.

There are four actions – jump, fly, wall run and punch – each with their own set of levels. Only the jump levels have been playable so far, but those make it abundantly clear how addictive Jungle Run will be.

The goal of each level is, of course, to reach the end, but bonus points are awarded for collecting the lines of hovering fairies that are littered throughout. These are often arranged in lines that indicate the best way through the course, and a quick well-timed tap on the screen will often bag your four or five in a single bound. And so you happily run through towards the finish line…

Until you miss one.

At first, it doesn’t bother you. You were never going to get all of them on your first go, were you? But those five or six fairies could be yours if you’d have just jumped one second later. And as the spiralling score count at the end shows you how close you were to a perfect score, you reason that the next level can wait until you’ve mastered this one.

You run again, you collect a few you missed early on, then you reach that particular set that prompted you to restart – and you miss.

Not a problem, thanks to the instant restart button in the top left corner of the screen, which drops you back at the start of the level quicker than you can actually register it. You try again, and again, and soon you won’t even notice you’re hitting restart – you’re just determined to get those fairies.

If the other three disciplines are half as addictive as the Jumping levels, Rayman: Jungle Run stands to ensnare a lot of smartphone owners. Each level only lasts a minute or so, but minutes soon become hours as you try to perfect each run.

Rayman: Jungle Run is now available on the Apple App Store for 1.99.

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