Ubisoft and Pastagames’ Rayman Jungle Run was that perfect one-two punch: an excellent platformer, and a high quality mobile Xbox game. The sequel Rayman Fiesta Run had a lot to live up to, and it almost felt like Ubisoft didn’t want to share it with us. The game soft launched in limited territories, appeared to fully launch worldwide a few weeks later, and then quickly disappeared that same day.
At last, Rayman Fiesta Run is properly available with fully working Xbox Live Achievements on Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, and Windows RT. Though we had to wait a painfully long time for Fiesta Run, the wait was worth it. Even if you found Jungle Run too challenging, this one is forgiving (and beautiful) enough that it might just win you over. Read on for our full review.
From Legends to Fiesta
The shrinking levels are new to Fiesta Run and Rayman Legends.
Just as Jungle Run served as the mobile companion game to console hit Rayman Origins, so does Fiesta Run borrow features and assets from Rayman Legends (which recently graced Xbox One).
The core gameplay remains largely unchanged. Rayman and other unlockable characters automatically run forward endlessly, with players making them jump by tapping one side of the screen or punch by tapping the other. Rayman starts out only being able to jump and swim (which is new), but he’ll gain back the power to punch, hover, and wall run after reaching certain levels. Your goal is always to collect as many floating yellow Lums as possible before reaching the end of the level.
The actual game structure has changed for the better, though. Instead of selecting individual levels from separate themed sets, Fiesta Run features one large world map. As Rayman and friends complete levels and collect more Lums, the path along the map fills in, eventually revealing new levels and rewards. Those rewards include concept art (now higher resolution, thankfully), a much larger selection of unlockable characters (though still smaller than Rayman Legends’ impressive assortment), and the occasional free batch of Lums.
Fiesta Run consists of 76 total levels at launch: 36 regular levels, 36 Invasion levels, and four trips to the Land of the Livid Dead. The Invasion levels are tougher remixes of regular levels, with different enemy and item placement, visual changes, and more obstacles (a concept borrowed from Legends). The Land of the Living Dead levels are also aimed at experienced players, just as in Jungle Run. And like before, they’re the only levels to offer leaderboards – a shame that Ubisoft didn’t expand the game’s social and competitive features as they did with Legends.
The collectible Lums now serve as Fiesta Run’s currency. Outside of gameplay, they can be spent on new characters and concept art. At the beginning of most levels, players can also opt to spend Lums on an assortment of power-ups. These include a red heart that allow our heroes to survive one hit or a gold heart that protect from two, new gloves that allow the protagonists to fire projectile punches at enemies and obstacles; and a guide that shows the optimal path to take during the level. All are priced surprisingly affordably, and none are needed to actually beat a level. They sure help with Invasion levels though!
Because the game gives us things to spend Lums on this time, you can now acquire a lot of them. Each time you complete a level, the Lums collected will be added to your total – another cool element introduced in Rayman Legends. This really adds to the replay value since we now have incentive to beat levels again, even after perfecting them. Impatient players can also opt to buy Lums as an In-App Purchase, but that’s unnecessary since you earn so many while playing.
Beautiful, demanding, and slightly buggy
Jungle Run was always easy on the eyes, and Fiesta Run takes that artistic beauty even further. Besides gorgeous new character art and background themes, Ubisoft and Pastagames have also added 3D platforms into the mix. These don’t appear in every single level, but they add a great sense of depth whenever they show up. Bouncing between background layers whenever you touch a blue mushroom also instils extra depth.
The extra visual flash comes at a price, though: performance. On my Lumia 1520, the frame rate occasionally drops slightly when things get hectic. The frame rate drops a lot more on weaker devices like the Lumia 520, but the game remains playable.
Another little issue I’ve run into happens when my character gets turned around and starts running in the wrong direction. This always results from a mistaken or missed jump, and it nearly always leads to death. I don’t remember getting turned around in Jungle Run; the developers need to improve Fiesta Run’s direction-switching algorithm.
Finally, it often takes multiple presses of the “Return” button to reach the title screen from the world map. Not a huge deal, but annoying nonetheless. This affects both the Windows Phone and Windows 8 versions, oddly enough.
Party on Windows 8
Although Fiesta Run is available on both Windows Phone and Windows 8, neither version uses cloud saving. Windows players can’t jump between phone and tablet on the same save file. That’s a shame considering the iOS version does have cloud saves and even shares Lums between Jungle Run and Fiesta Run.
The Windows 8 and RT versions of Fiesta Run are even more susceptible to performance issues than the phone game, presumably due to their use of higher resolution assets. On the original Surface Pro, the frame rate regularly dips below 30 FPS. Luckily, it does run perfectly on my gaming notebook.
One problem unique to the PC and tablet versions of Fiesta Run: no keyboard support! Jungle Run allowed players to jump and attack by pressing the CTRL and Spacebar keys. The only way to perform those actions without a touch screen in Fiesta Run is by clicking the mouse buttons – not the ideal way to play. Neither Fiesta Run nor Jungle Run supports controllers, sadly.
The most common complaint about Jungle Run was that a couple of its Achievements were almost impossibly difficult. You had to beat approximately 45 levels in a row without dying in order to unlock the final Achievement, argh.
Ubisoft and Pastagames took user feedback to heart and made Fiesta Run’s Achievements obtainable to normal human beings. You don’t need to perfect every single level in Fiesta Run, nor do you have to beat multiple levels in one attempt. The hardest one here (if you can call it that) is for collecting 20,000 Lums. It might take a little grinding (everyone recommends replaying level 9), but certainly won’t cause undue frustration.
Fiesta Run is the perfect mobile companion to Rayman Legends. It captures the delightful look and feel of the console game, all while providing unique levels and a game design crafted specifically for playing on the go. It launches with more levels than Jungle Run ever featured, to boot.
Jungle Run’s one obvious flaw has been fixed. Reasonable Achievements and the ability to buy power-ups make it so that less skilled players can fully enjoy the game from start to finish. If you have joy in your heart and/or a love of platformers, Rayman Fiesta Run is a must-buy. Console gamers shouldn’t miss Rayman Legends, either.
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