Rayman Fiesta Run – Android
Release Date: November 7th, 2013
Developer: Ubisoft (?)
Nerd Rating: 9.5 out of 10
If we’re lucky, we get a few great moments in our gaming lives where we play a sequel to a great game that turns out to be an ever greater game. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is one of the most prominent that comes to mind, along with another game I haven’t been able put down for the past few days: Rayman Fiesta Run. Whereas the visuals and mechanics of Jungle Run are based largely on Rayman Origins, Fiesta Run is built upon Legends. Fiesta Run takes the simple gameplay elements of its predecessor and adds a ton of new features and level mechanics, introducing extra layers of depth and making for a more varied experience on top of the superb Jungle Run.
Rayman Fiesta Run operates under the same premise as Jungle Run. It’s a platformer through and through, except that our main character is constantly moving forward. Although unable to stop, the player is able to control Rayman’s actions to some degree by jumping, attacking, bouncing off of or sliding down walls, and using various features within the level such as springboard-like objects and hanging ropes. If you’ve played Legends, think back to the bonus levels set to the rhythm of music where Rayman is likewise in perpetual motion and you’ll have more than a good idea what Fiesta Run looks and plays like.
Yet again, the most basic objective is to make it to the end of the course, but the ultimate goal is collecting all 100 lums in each stage. Depending on the number of lums gathered, either 1, 2, 3, or 4 “Teensies” will be “saved.” For each Teensie rescued, another section of the main map/path is filled in, eventually allowing access to new levels. With a grand total of 72 levels, Rayman Fiesta Run will keep anyone busy for some time. Also new is the addition of “invaded” levels. When the player collects 100 lums in the normal stage, a special “invaded” version of the same level is unlocked presenting more challenges but utilizing the same basic level layout.
With its increased size and complexity, the sequel is significantly tougher. An increasing number of elements are introduced into the levels themselves such as multiple moving platforms and triggered changes in the environment, moving lums, rising lava, and specialized abilities granted to Rayman. For example, besides Rayman’s usual propeller trick, he sometimes runs across special gloves (akin to a power-up from Legends) that launch projectiles. Though these are useful for killing enemies at a distance, their real value lies in airborne combat as well as manipulating parts of the level from afar (such as collapsing platforms or freeing “bubbled” lums).
So many new toys and obstacles means a higher degree of variety. What was already a fun concept in Jungle Run that gradually built ability upon ability is much more complicated and in some ways allows for additional freedom. Due to level design there isn’t much room for error. Most actions must be executed within a small window and in many cases each action or the time thereof has significant bearing on the next. This fast-paced, reflex-driven gameplay is what makes it so hard to put down. Even though the in-game physics do much of the work, it’s still thrilling to watch Rayman bounce around from enemy to spring-pad and then slide down a rope, leap off a wall, grab a vine, and swing to safety.
Rayman Fiesta Run takes the tired concept of the platformer and single-handedly redefines it. The comically simple idea of keeping the main character in constant motion while creating complimentary mechanics makes for one of the most unique gaming experiences around, be it on a mobile device or anything else. It’s silly but sophisticated; it teeters the thin line between insanity and genius.
Only 2 things keep Fiesta Run from earning a perfect 10. The minor slowdowns present in Jungle Run are far less prevalent in the sequel, though when they do pop up they’re far more intrusive. At a couple of points (and always at these exact points) the controls experience a noticeable delay and it’s tricky getting Rayman to act accordingly. The second flaw concerns Rayman’s direction of movement. When attempting to bounce around walls to move backwards just a tad to collect a missed lum, sometimes Rayman will inexplicably start heading the wrong direction for a few seconds too long. This can lead to some very cumbersome situations, even resulting in our character getting “stuck” occasionally. While the problem doesn’t manifest when everything is completed as intended, it is troublesome when using level design to one’s advantage to move backwards.
The control scheme has been improved, however, and instead of the button designated for “attack” while the remainder of the screen could be touched to make Rayman jump, Rayman Fiesta Run cuts the screen in half. Any touch to the right side launches an attack while any contact with the left allows him to jump. I was a little frustrated at first, not only because of the controls in Jungle Run but also because I was pressing the right side to jump in Fiesta Run before gaining the ability to attack. After getting used to the new control scheme I have concluded that it is indeed an improvement leading to far less accidents.
One of the most amazing aspects that caught my eye during Jungle Run was the intricate level design. Rayman Fiesta Run cranks it up to 11, mostly to accommodate for all the new toys. The perfectly crafted series of platforms is nigh indescribable and must be seen to be believed. An immense amount of detail and attention has been poured into each of the 72 stages and it shows throughout.
Graphics have taken an appreciable leap forward as well. Though the quality remains the same, there’s an immense increase in variety. Scenery includes everything from icy, water-filled worlds, to dense, hot levels resembling the inside of the furnace, and to alien, organic looking props and backgrounds from the inside of a giant creature’s body – just to name a few. The identifiable set of Rayman sound effects and music returns in fine form as well with some particularly memorable tracks combining Rayman-oddness with generic-sounding Mexican folk tunes, completely with the high pitched “yipping” and hollering.
Finally, Fiesta Run adds in-game currency to the fray. Each lum collected counts as a spendable lum. The great thing is that it isn’t limited to the 100 available in each level. Play the level once and collect 98 lums, 98 lums are added to your total. Play again and gather 100, and another 100 are added. Although one can buy additional lums with real money, there’s really no point; pick an easy and fast level, play it over and over, and watch the lums accumulate.
What good are the accrued lums? They basically serve 2 purposes. Firstly, lums are used to purchase artwork unlocked along the path and new characters that can be found through progress as well. Similar to Legends, several playable characters are available. Most of them are very reasonably priced, and within a couple of hours you should find yourself in a position to instantly buy any and all extra characters you run across.
The second set of purchases available are power-ups. For a fee, the player can buy enhancements to Rayman’s normal abilities at the beginning of a level. These include extra hearts, the projectile punching gloves available in some levels, and several others. Most of these are fairly priced as well, but so far I’m doing my best to avoid using assistance of any kind. Yes, the levels are hard and after the first dozen will probably require scores of attempts, but they’re not impossible. The most important thing is to pay attention and learn how to use Rayman’s constant motion rather than scheming on how to circumvent it.
Despite the minor shortcomings, Rayman Fiesta Run is a hell of a game, made all the more remarkable by existing only as a smartphone/tablet-based title. I can already imagine how exceptional both Fiesta Run and its predecessor would be on the PS Vita. Anyone who plays either game is sure to see how finely crafted and executed they both are, and it’s unfortunately that we may not see either targeted towards avid Rayman consumers. Even still, we have immutable proof that mobile-based gaming can reach the level of craftsmanship of console gaming, and for only $2.99 at that!
Reviewed by The Cubist
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