Michel Ancel and the rest of the team at Ubisoft delivered one of the best platform games across all major consoles. It was terrific.
Not only because the graphics offered a very special experience thanks to UbiArt Framework engine, but also because the level and character designs were so enjoyable. Mario suddenly wasn't the obvious colourful platform adventure of choice last winter.
Therefore finding out Rayman was shifting to mobile platforms, it was hard not to cheer. An enthusiasm that was slightly more subdued once we heard more on the project: a stripped down version shoved into the endless runner genre, with Rayman automatically rushing right and our only control a single button as input.
But we weren't the only one who thought it sounded like a bit of a detour for Origins. Developer Pasta Games' Fabien Delpiano had been given Rayman Origins and tasked by creator Michael Ancel to make a mobile take on the game. While Pasta wanted a implementation of input that was closer to the console release, Ancel wouldn't hear of it. A virtual pad for the mobile adventure was ruled out, as he deemed it too imprecise.
And so here a half year later, we have the result, and Rayman Jungle Run proves everything we hadn't dared hope for.
Yes, there is only one button. Yes, Rayman runs to the right as we know from the endless runner genre. Yes, it seems at first glance simple.
There's four worlds, ten levels in each. None are randomly generated, and you can tell: although only a few minutes in length, you can see a lot of detail's went into every inch of each.
Locations of traps need to be studied, helping hands memorised and the best shortcuts remembered. Rayman charges through each level at a swift pace...but it still feels a little easy. That is, until around halfway through the game - around twenty courses in - I get stuck. I even earn an Achievement for not wanting to give up.
I hand the game over to a colleague who's face soon contorts to an expression that suggests a one-way ticket to the nearest anger management clinic. He finally breaks through and completes the level, only to become stumped once again on the next. And it gets no easier.
All this, and we still only have to concentrate on a single tap of the screen. But Pasta Games gradually unlocks more abilities as you progress through each world that can be activated by that single tap.
So soon if you keep your finger pressed down on the screen Rayman hovers mid-jump, letting you use wind updrafts to soar to higher platforms or float safely over deadly spikes. A strategically-placed heart on each level gives Rayman a second chance if he misses.
You'll also be able to wall jump, changing directions in best N+ style. Land on enemy heads and they'll be knocked down. You'll be able to run up walls and along ceilings. You'll also be able to punch (the only time the game splits into a dual-tap control scheme) . In other words, it's anything but simple, even if your actions are limited to well-timed taps on the screen.
Rayman Jungle Run works much like a high-score game. There are coins and secret items to be found, and all counts to the pool, which ultimately should - preferably - result in a "perfect" from the game. Doing so opens extra content including secret levels and delicious screen-savers (the latter smartly stored online to keep down the App's size).
In other words, this offers genuine platform joy of the kind when platform games were hard and filled with new experiences.
Rayman Jungle Run is wonderful to look at. Each level has lifted characters and environments directly from the Origins game, and it's easy to be impressed when Rayman sprints through lush green jungles or across smoking lava stones, while the usual colorful characters litter each stage.
It even has the same music from the original. Although only a few tracks are offered, they work well. Rayman Jungle Run is a slightly small App when it comes to size. A paltry 67 MB of space is required for all this. And it is simply impressive how much the Origins experience has been adapted to the mobile platform.
Perfectly-designed levels, effortless control and colours that pop off the screen. This isn't a snack-sized offering either, as the later courses will keep you stumped, while you can work on cutting down times and going for that "perfect" run. You'll sweat in concentration in attempting that, and when you throw in the towel its because you screwed up, not the control method.
Pasta Games have made a rousing interpretation of a gaming classic, and its one of the best platform games we've seen on our mobile and tablet screens.