Rayman Jungle Run Hands-On Preview

Ubisoft has launched Rayman Jungle Run a few days ahead of its scheduled September 20 release date, so it’s available now in the App Store for $2.99 as a universal app. Despite what the name suggests, it’s not an endless auto-runner– the levels are small, beautiful, and designed to be replayed over and over again until they’re mastered. Download it here, check back soon for our review, and click ahead for the first hands-on gameplay video.

At a recent Ubisoft event, in addition to two Facebook game ports and the announcement of a new Assassin’s Creed iOS game, we were delighted to spot the return of Rayman. Rayman’s had a rough ride on iOS, with a sub-par Gameloft port of Rayman 2 and two dull Rabbids entertainment apps. Rayman Jungle Run will thankfully change that, because it’s a fast-paced and highly responsive platformer that requires split-second precision.

Rayman Jungle Run starts off with Rayman running automatically through jungle scenes, collecting glowing fireflies called lums. Thankfully, Rayman Jungle Run is not another Temple Run knock-off, like we were expecting at first. The goal is to reach the end of each level without dying, instead of running forever and racking up a high score.

As you run, you’ll have to time your jumps perfectly to avoid falling off a cliff or into a bed of spikes. The game is divided into four chapters with ten levels, each of which introduces a new gameplay element: Jump, Fly, Wall Run, and Punch.

After you learn how to run and jump, you’ll be able to fly. You fly by holding down on the screen, which causes Rayman’s propeller-head to vault you upwards for a short period of time. You can follow the path of lums to find the most efficient route through each level. Later, you’ll be able to bounce off of walls and punch through obstacles or enemies.

The graphics and audio are both very bright and chipper, which made Rayman’s repeated deaths feel a little less frustrating. The levels will often change as you run through them, with twisting vines or flowing lava cutting off different routes. With enough skill, you can perform a perfect run and earn three gems, which are tallied along with your lums in a stylish spiral at the end of each level.

Our main concern with Rayman Jungle Run is that the game handles all your turning for you automatically. You can’t steer Rayman left or right– you’ll only control his jumping, flying, and punching abilities. As a result, sometimes you’ll want to run back to collect more lums, only to find the game forcing you back onto the path. It’s a little less freedom than we’re used to in a platformer, but it reinforces the “one correct path” gameplay style we’ve seen before in games like Mirror’s Edge.

From what we played, Rayman Jungle Run seems to make pretty good use of the Rayman universe, with its multi-talented hero and gorgeous backgrounds. It’ll be available September 20th on the App Store.

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