Originally an Apple TV exclusive, Rayman Adventures is now available for mobile devices on iOS and Android. Having personally skipped Rayman since it entered the 3D world, Rayman Adventures is a throwback to the 2D side scrolling platform games. It exudes a je ne sais quoi charm with its vivid colours and whimsical characters that many franchises endeavour to achieve, but ultimately fall shy. Musical scores and sound effects are top notch. I can easily see this game appealing to a younger audience.
Choosing between Rayman and the viking Barbara, you’ll go through different stages that focus on combat, classic platform puzzles or collecting lums. The controls themselves are simple to grasp. Rayman, and I’ll use Rayman as that was the character I chose, will continuously run in one direction until you swipe to change his direction. Tapping makes you jump. Swiping towards enemies and obstacles will launch an attack. Unfortunately the swipe to attack and change of direction are the same, which can cause confusion sometimes when you’re trying to do both actions in sequence. You can, however, play the entire game with one hand, which is a boon when you’re on the go. As far as I can tell Barbara controls the same although I got the feeling she’s slightly larger than Rayman on the screen.
Speaking of gaming on the go, Rayman Adventures is paced well for short spurts. Each adventure contains around three stages and the stages themselves can usually be completed in a few minutes. As you finish each stage, you’ll work towards acquiring an egg which hatches into an Incrediball. The Incrediballs are useful in two ways. They are sidekicks that will help you in the game. Some creatures help point out where the bonuses are. Some creatures will absorb damage so they’re useful in combat stages. You can play stages without a sidekick though. Freeing Incrediballs also enables them to contribute in ten meter spurts to the growth of a tree.
You might ask where this tree came from and why. Unfortunately, there’s not much explanation why. Exposition is kept to a bare minimum – usually on the adventure campaign map as subtitles. Why am I saving lums? Why am I freeing teensies? Why is there a tree? At best this is basic Rayman lore that eludes me, or at worse just a gimmick to keep the game going. With the completion of each adventure, you’ll open up one or more adventure areas. Once you put your egg in incubation and decide to move on, you can’t go back to that adventure. In fact, you don’t know where you’re progressing towards either but I assume this is how the game will be infinitely extensible since you’ll get additional adventures as the developers continue to update the game. Should you choose the adventure at the top of the map or on the right of the map? It doesn’t seem to make a material difference other than giving you different stages to complete.
The main currency in the game is the gem. Gems can help you buy food to feed your Incrediballs so they can become your sidekick. Gems can speed up or enhance through potions what Incrediball you’ll get from your incubating egg. Gems can come from completing stages, achieving daily reward milestones and from golden tickets; scratch-able lottery tickets. Simply watching an advertisement is considered a milestone too. Once you run out of gems, though, you’ll have to spend money to acquire them or replay older stages in your current adventure. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for the eggs to incubate in real world time, which may be a half hour or an hour wait. The game is free so you expect there to be some catch to it.
Now, the worst part of Rayman Adventures is not the free to play mechanics. It’s actually the incessant need to connect to a server to play the game. I don’t know what server Ubisoft is using, but it needs an upgrade pronto. My experience with the game was playing on an iPad on Wi-Fi so I can only imagine the frustration playing on an iPhone on a mobile network where you may lose signal. That’s because the initial download of Rayman Adventures is quite small – at around 90 MB. Was this tailored for people who have the iPhone 16 GB mobile? When I first started the game, it asked to download some additional levels with the message “Connecting to server…” That’s okay as I’ve encountered this in other games like Modern Combat. When it finished downloading additional levels, I must have been very lucky because the game then asked me to go back to the App Store and download a new version and repeat the same process. Finally, I got to play through the tutorial adventures until I got past adventure three and the game needed more downloads. The “connecting to server” message appears again. Now as I finish the third adventure and move on, practically every stage requires a “connecting to server” message. I then started going to the store to claim my rewards and the “connecting to server” message comes up. At its most frustrating point, I finished all the stages in an adventure and wanted to move the egg into the incubator, which involves dragging an egg into an egg cup. Even that required “connecting to server” and I wasn’t able to complete the adventure. I tried closing everything on my iPad and rebooting the device but to no avail. During the next day, I tried Rayman Adventures again and it’s working. It appears losing connection to the Internet will also ruin the auto save process as well. I’ve heard of games operating on the cloud but this is taking it to the next level.
Rayman Adventures is not a deep game. You have to treat it as a collection of standalone adventures rather than a full fledged sequel that advances the Rayman franchise. In mobile play, that might not be a bad approach. You can easily get an hour of play from the game without putting money into it. Getting starter packs or extra gems will enable you to play longer. The biggest shame might be sinking money into the game and being unable to play it because of the dreaded server connection issues and that’s why in its current state, Rayman Adventures is difficult to recommend.
Reviewed By: Lawrence Wong
This review is based on a digital copy of Rayman Adventures for the iPad from the iTunes App Store.