In recent years I've been deeply disappointed by blue hedgehogs and plumbers who keep get caught up with saving princesses kidnapped by fat lizards. Instead I've come to terms with my own mortality thanks to pixelated meat boys. I've almost completely abandoned the platform genre and its most recognisable characters.
Well, not completely. The limb-less Rayman has won a place in my heart thanks to the pure brilliance of Rayman Origins and Legends. It's funny how things can change. A character and series I once found boring has now become completely compelling. The modern era takes on the franchise - all beautiful art and rock hard platforming - has surprised and entertained more so than Mario or Sonic. My newfound appreciation for Rayman and his world is largely down to the UbiArt Framework - a set of design tools that allows creatives to effortlessly transfer their ideas from concept art directly into animated form on the TV screen.
When Ubisoft released Rayman: Jungle Run last year it certainly had me excited. The developer managed to squeeze the challenging experience of a platformer onto touch, not just with simple and easy controls, but also with the full support of UbiArt Framework that allowed the wonderful vivid imagery from Rayman Origins to appear on mobile form.
The result was a very good platformer in the endless runner genre (perhaps not a completely correct definition as the game was divided into levels and not really endless). It pushed the right buttons and delivered a platformer capable of giving you a rush of adrenaline. It wasn't massively challenging, unless you wanted to collect all the items hidden around each level - and Ubisoft upped the difficulty bv way even harder levels included in a series of free updates.
So what's the reason for this very long introduction? Well, I think most will take a look at Rayman Fiesta Run and come to the conclusion that it offers more of the same. And that is correct to a certain degree, but there are new elements that will appeal both to those who felt Rayman: Jungle Run lacked challenge and those who felt it was too hard.
Let's start with the mechanics. You still run automatically towards the right (or left!). You touch one side to jump and the other to punch. In certain places Rayman can utilise upward drafts to hover, and that's pretty much it. The same basics as in Rayman: Jungle Run.
So what's different? First of all, the difficulty level has been retuned to make it harder. You won't nail a level on your first try... nor on your second. But once you do you will unlock an extra challenging version of the level. These extra hard levels contain far more obstacles, tricky jumps and deadly enemies.
If you cringe upon hearding this, Ubisoft have your needs catered for as well. You can use points collected to make the game easier. You can buy an extra heart, letting you hit an enemy without dying, or buy an upgrade that leads you punch constantly as you run. But most importantly you can buy a visual guide that lets you know when to jump and punch.
Before you jump off a cliff when you hear about freemium finding its way into the game, let me put you at ease. As I opened the game I received about 2000 coins for having Rayman: Jungle Run installed and you earn around 50-100 coins for completing each level. Points are earned in-game and can be used to purchase alternative versions of characters such as Rayman, Globox and others. A heart costs 10 points and a guide 80 points - so it's not overly pricey. That is unless you want to unlock more rare characters that go for 1000 points. In essence its less about slyly digging into your wallet, more as an option to cheat your way past any frustrations you may have, which works nicely in this sort of game.
In addition to these new additions, Ubisoft have spiced things up by creating levels that remind us of the Nintendo 3DS title Mutant Mudds, where the level is made up of several layers that sees you run between background and foreground on you way to the goal. There is also more variation in the environments, and there are also levels where you are being chased.
Once again you're getting all of this wrapped in gorgeous visuals and a soundtrack that borrows a few of the original's tracks. Most important this feels more like Rayman Origins than ever. Whether it has to do with the increased difficulty, or the increased creativity on display, I cannot say, but it feels more "authentic". You cannot help but smile as you play.
But don't think that this game is as deep or rewarding as Origins or Legends. It's much different experience, but it's an experience that has been tailored to portable gameplay.
Rayman Fiesta Run is a fantastic platformer, that's incredibly easy to get into and that's perfectly tailored to touch controls. It manages to give us that sense of challenge we love in a platformer and all of this for the price of a rather crappy burger.
All images grabbed with an iPad Mini