The best moments in last year’s Rayman Origins were the stages in which our limbless hero hared off at full pelt after a surprisingly speedy treasure chest. They showed the genre at its glorious, rhythmic best, an immaculate blend of memory test and precision platforming. The only downside was that there weren’t enough of them. With Rayman Jungle Run, Ubisoft has not only set that straight but made perhaps the most convincing case for asset re-use we’ve seen in years.
In hindsight, an iOS (and soon Android) auto-runner spin-off making use of Origins’ painterly visuals is such an obvious proposition that the cynical mind would be forgiven for suspecting it was in the Origins design document from the start. Developer Pasta Games does, however, deviate from the auto-runner template by abandoning the endless left-to-right of Canabalt and its ilk: if the level design requires you to run left, you’ll run left.
The levels here are every bit as inventive as they were in Origins and, by the time your moveset has expanded to include a hover, wall-run and punch, every bit as punishing. Your cause isn’t helped by some often flakey input recognition, however – especially the hover, which often requires several taps to kick in.
While most players will blitz through the main game’s 36 levels in a couple of hours, there’s longevity (and much frustration) in collecting all of the firefly-like Lums in a stage. Meanwhile, The Land Of The Dead levels unlocked along the way will be a source of near-constant fury until that magical, giddying moment where neither memory nor fingers let you down and you zip past the goal. The App Store hardly lacks platform games, of course, but few are so finely executed, so close in spirit to their 16bit forebears, as this.