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Best iPhone games: Rayman Jungle Run

CVG hand-picks the greatest mobile games available to download right now

Mobile games are fun, simple and accessible, but that doesn't mean they are lightweight or insignificant. They have the ability to bend time and make commutes bearable; they transform idle moments into thrilling distractions. In a new series, CVG celebrates the most impressive examples of this exciting new wave of games.

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Best iPhone games: Rayman Jungle Run

Also available on:
iPad

Rayman arrived in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though his debut felt like a 16-bit cartoon platformer, it was released for Sony's PlayStation (and, lest we forget, the Atari Jaguar) when games were reaching their adolescence. Sega and Nintendo's mascot-driven platformers, the ones which surely inspired Rayman's creation, were no longer en vogue as WipeOut and Ridge Racer ushered in the era of lustrous 3D powerhouses.

That first Rayman's critical and commercial reception was good, but not great. Perhaps he had missed his big moment by a couple of years, but Ubisoft persevered with him. Rayman carved out a very 7/10 kind of success. Good, but not great.

With 2011's Rayman Origins, everything changed. It was (and still is) a beautifully presented, wonderfully imaginative platformer. It had variety and vibrancy which made Nintendo's once proud platforming formula appear tired and conservative. As Mario increasingly goes through the motions, Rayman is suddenly, somehow, the critics' favourite.

Jungle Run is his breakthrough game, Origins, streamlined with the analogue stick held down to the right. The lush hand-drawn artwork is revisited, and rendered all the more opulent on iPad's retina display. UbiArt is rightly given equal billing on the game's boot-up screen alongside co-developers Ubisoft and Pastagames. UbiArt's creations give the platforming a gallic offbeat soul unlike any other. Its predecessor's banjo twangs, didgeridoo and galloping Mariachi sound returns, too.

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Jungle Run's twisting, inventive stage design is more linear than its predecessor, but never dull. Jumping with timed taps of the screen gets Rayman through the stage intact, but doesn't present a great challenge until the third or fourth world.

Abilities are added to Rayman's repertoire to maintain your interest - the 'hairlicopter', Sonic-style wall running and a basic attack - and further expert Land Of The Dead stages are unlocked if you claim five or more perfect runs in one world.

Several run-throughs of each stage help you to learn its layout, tricks and traps, but mere progression isn't the true aim. Completionists will want to collect every single Lum in every single stage, perfecting a parkour run through jungles, caves and floral meadows.

It is possible to lay down a perfect run at the first attempt in some early stages, but after that, twitch-timed jumps alone won't help you. Trying to break away from the prescribed route has been part of platforming since Super Mario Bros' Warp Zone. In Jungle Run, your reward is Lums. They lurk up in the air or down below your racing line, just out of reach. First runs are then little more than exploratory - like a practice lap. It'll take many, many more 'hot laps' to snaffle every glowing yellow nymph.

Jungle Run is an artfully made and challenging iOS game, one which takes the rich aesthetic of Origins and refines it for mobile beautifully. Origins, now Jungle Run, and Legends up next - Rayman's time has come at last.

Rayman Jungle Run is £1.99 on the App Store. Download it here.

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