Rayman Jungle Run has not only been a great game but it’s also been a light at the end of the tunnel. When I loaded it up on my iPad I realised something, something that I haven’t really thought about any other App store release; “this is a proper game”.
Now by saying that I almost imply that I don’t consider App store releases to be real games, this is not the case. I love my iPad and I spend a fair amount of time playing games on it, what I always want to find however is games that haven’t been made for the casual “pick up and play crowd” or the “games as art crowd”. I subscribe to both those groups pamphlets but I have had a hard time, especially of late, accepting any mobile device as a viable gaming platform. I’ve enjoyed the obvious games like Angry Birds and the Midway Arcade releases, I just struggle to compare them to console or handheld games of the past couple of generations.
I think that the issue has been two-fold, on one hand graphically the iPad has been hitting above it’s weight, or just throwing the fight before the bell has even been rung, and on the other a mixture of the lack of originality in the games and a broken control scheme just let it down before you’ve even hit start.
When Rayman Origins came out on consoles it was an amazing breath of fresh air, the graphics were original and uniquely portrayed, the cartoon style mixed with the plane based backgrounds produced some scenes that were far more impressive than they deserved to be. Mix with that a slapstick comedy that’s suitable for all ages and they had a hit on their hands. With this iOS port obviously changes had to be made, but not where you would expect. Now there’s only a couple of buttons, and none of them are move. Rayman always runs to the right and you as the played just have to make sure you hit the jump, wallrun or punch buttons at the correct time. The reason I see this as a pinnacle of iOS gaming is due to what it’s left in. The game feels like it’s grown up counterpart, the similarities with the console version are more striking than what’s missing. The graphics are still childish perfection and the soundtrack and humour are still there to make you feel young and for no apparent reason produce a smile on the players face.
There are games like Infinity Blade and Arkham City on the app store, games which have had big budgets but are at heart games of no substance. They look gorgeous but are basically shallow, they have no real game behind the press button to dodge. The problem with the App store and the rest of the mobile industry is a potential creative stagnation. We as consumers are essentially being fed the same few genres over and over, and when something original does come along there are a million lesser quality imitations thrown onto the App store within days.
A lot of this comes down to cost, with a lot of games only being 69p or even free, it’s easy to throw money at something and be far less selective, compare it to a console game that’s £40 and you’ll be far more picky as to what you’re willing to invest time into. Rayman is a game that you could easily see on any of this or past generations hand held devices and at the same time it stands alongside it’s console sibling while only slightly being the bastard offspring that’s kept in the attic as to not scare the neighbour’s kids.