A fiesta and a siesta
Rayman Jungle Run was a perfect example of how to adapt a console game to a touch interface. It gorgeously preserved the sharp visuals from its console counterpart, and best of all -- it used a control scheme that actually worked, without pissing off fans of the original.
Instead of relying on a messy virtual d-pad and a host of buttons, Jungle Run kept things simple, and allowed you to tap the screen to jump, among a few other basic functions. While Rayman Fiesta Run tries to meddle with this winning formula a bit too often, it's still very much worth your time.
Rayman Fiesta Run (Android, iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 5])
Release Date: November 7, 2013
It's not hard to grasp the concept of Fiesta Run -- you start a level, Rayman runs automatically, you jump around and avoid obstacles until you reach the end, then you repeat the process. Just like Jungle Run, your goal is to collect 100 Lums (coins, essentially) in each level, which earns you a star rating dependent on how many you grabbed.
After collecting all 100, you'll unlock a new, more difficult rendition of the stage, but otherwise, stars are used to unlock spaces on a "track" similar to Final Fantasy X's sphere grid (but without the option to choose your path). If you want access to a new level, you'll need to do well enough to fill the track -- a stark departure from Jungle Run, which simply allowed you to continue on at will.
What this "track" system does is essentially gate progress until you've performed at a certain level. While it isn't a major issue early in the game, later on it becomes more of a problem, and unlocking everything requires you to get full perfects throughout. If every single level was a joy to play it would be fine, but since a few are devoid of life, playing them over and over to earn the right to get to the good stuff can be frustrating.
Then you add a light microtransaction system to the mix, allowing you to purchase extra Lums to unlock new cosmetic content and power-ups. It's never as much of a nuisance as the gated level system is, but it's there, and feels out of place compared to the in-app-purchase-free launch of Jungle Run (which has since added IAPs, funnily enough).
But while this scheme can weigh down the fun at times, the good news is Fiesta Run is still enjoyable overall. All of the core gameplay is preserved from the original, in the sense that it feels less like a soulless "endless runner," and more like a legitimate platformer that happens to have an auto-run system. It uses a simple control scheme that just works, and should provide hours of entertainment to even the most staunch touch-screen haters.
Fiesta Run isn't really a difficult or deep game in any sense, unless you're going for a perfect 100 score on every level. At that point it becomes insanely difficult, as you go for run after run, missing that one tiny Lum up in the corner somewhere, forcing you to do the entire level over again until you get it right. It's an odd design for sure, especially since an increasing amount of games let you keep your progress after revising a level to encourage completion.
For the most part, the game reuses assets from its counterparts (in a good way), but each stage makes an effort to mix things up to the point where it doesn't get too stale. Once you pick up more abilities such as the hover power and the punch attack, levels open up a bit more as well beyond a "Point A to B" course. Though the actual stylistic themes change quite often, the soundtrack employs the same few tunes over and over, leading me to mute-city occasionally.
Rayman Fiesta Run flirts with the concept of unacceptable microtransactions, but thankfully, there's still a ton of bang for your buck here if you can deal with the progression requirements. With a wonderful set of visuals and an even better control scheme, Rayman fans have a lot to be excited about.
Rayman Fiesta Run reviewed by Chris Carter
Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth most people's time and cash.
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