The evolution of the endless runner videogame has been a quick an unforgiving one, with titles just a year old looking positively archaic when compared to their contemporaries. Never has the rise of a single genre been so in tune with the popularity of an input device – in this respect, the touchscreen – and so of course it wasn’t long until the big boys wanted a piece of the action. Championing the genre is that 2D rejuvenator Rayman himself, and having already claimed the approval of both critics and consumers alike he’s back for a second shot in Rayman Fiesta Run.
Playing very similarly to the original title, Rayman Fiesta Run tasks the player with traversing a level from start-to-finish where the core action is simply jumping via a tap of the touchscreen. Rayman runs automatically, so the challenge for the player is to ensure that they time each press to afford the distance required to make the gap or reach the desired height. It’s a simple mechanic that becomes more complicated with the introduction of collectables and hidden routes. As enjoyable to play as it is easy to put down, Rayman Fiesta Run makes no effort to modernise this formula for fear of damaging it, instead simply building on the premise.
The most immediate change comes by way of the videogame’s map system. Levels are no longer charted by linear progression that allow for earlier encounters to be replayed in order to maximise bonuses only once a full stage has been completed. Now players may choose to travel anywhere at any time, provided they have unlocked the next challenge in said location. Ubisoft suggest that once the initial stage has been completed there will never be a point in the videogame where there is less than two or three options available to the player, offering them an alternative if they find a particular level to challenging or frustrating.
Another big change is the significant increase in interactive gameplay layers in each level. Players will move back-and-forth from tier-to-tier, bouncing and leaping from platform to bridge to wall to mushroom as they are propelled between foreground and background with striking regularity. It’s not as daunting as it sounds – Rayman Fiesta Run is still a videogame in which everything is designed to be taken in your stride – but it does keep the tempo of the action at a constant rush pace. Rayman Fiesta Run will also incorporate a number of new power-ups and a new difficulty option which remixes the levels with new arrangements and increased numbers of enemies, though neither of these elements were available to Electronic Theatre during our hands-on time with the videogame.
While it’s unlikely to shake the foundations of the platform genre in the same way as Rayman Legends has managed to, cornering the sub-genre of endless runner is something in which it’s sure to specialise. Due for release on iOS and Android tablets in the near future Ubisoft also confirmed to Electronic Theatre that Rayman Fiesta Run will make it’s way to Windows Phone and Windows 8 formats too, though just as with the first title the wait is likely to be long and tortuous.