2012 Game of the Year (Editor’s Choice): Rayman Jungle Run

After reviewing over 600 iOS games in 2012, with 131 Must Haves, 12 Game of the Month winners and runners-up, and our Top 50 list for the year, we’re finally ready to share our editors’ choice for iOS Game of the Year. This year, Ubisoft deserves a heartfelt congratulations for bringing their cartoon hero Rayman back to the mobile scene with a brilliant platformer that is absolutely perfect for portable devices.

Previous Game of the Year winners chosen by the editors of Slide To Play have included Real Racing in 2009, GTA: Chinatown Wars in 2010, and Infinity Blade 2 in 2011. All of those games have two things in common: They pushed the boundaries of gameplay and graphics on the portable system, and they each offered a console-like experience.

This year’s winner, Rayman Jungle Run, doesn’t attempt to be a console platformer. Your character’s movement is handled automatically, with Rayman running forward at a steady pace, like in Canabalt, Temple Run, or Punch Quest. But that’s not to say you don’t have any control over Rayman. With a single tap on the screen, you can jump, rebound, float, swing, and punch. And unlike in other auto-running games, the goal is not to get a high score, but instead to make a perfect run through fiendishly-designed levels that evolve as you pass through them.

There are two ways to play each level: You can make a mad dash for the finish line, ignoring the lums that you can collect, or you can replay a level until you’ve perfected every last jump. The first method won’t take you more than a few minutes, but getting 100% on all levels requires hours of carefully-timed taps.

Rayman Jungle Run has gorgeous graphics and animation, an infectious soundtrack, and some of the best 2D level design we’ve seen in a long time. It’s quick enough to be played in short bursts, but it can also sustain much longer play sessions. And even though it’s a platformer, nailing down the timing in each level gives you the same “ah-ha!” feeling that you’ll also get from playing top physics puzzlers like Cut The Rope or Where’s My Water?

We wish that all iOS games were as well-suited for the platform as Rayman Jungle Run. It proves that there are still original ideas left when it comes to touchscreen controls and mobile gameplay. Congratulations to Ubisoft for making a classic character stand out in this creative new mobile game.

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