Back in the ancient days of the PS1, Saturn and PC when 2D was still a thing and 3D gaming was still just a twinkling little prospect before Mario 64 came along and blew it up into the mainstream, a little character called Rayman made his debut. Moving from 2D, to 3D and back to 2D again, in recent years his star has been in the ascendant thanks to the fantastic Rayman Origins and the more recent Rayman Legends.
Both of those latter titles have also served as the parent of iOS-based Endless Runner games. Rayman Jungle Run, released last year on about every mobile platform under the sun, was an excellent game with only a few minor flaws that set it back from true mobile masterpeice status. But With Rayman Legends having been released on PC and consoles this year (after a lengthy delay), new title Rayman Fiesta Run fixes those flaws and the result is an essential purchase for both casual and serious gamers alike.
The basic setup remains the same: You run through a series of courses, each containing a total of 100 Lums (little smiley-faced... erm... things). The number of Lums collected on each course feeds into your total and goes towards unlocking further courses.
The differences to the previous mobile title here are many though. Firstly, instead of picking levels from a basic menu, here there is something more akin to a world map. Progress towards unlocking courses is still made by the total Lums collected as before, but along the way you will also unlock artwork, additional playable characters and other things.
All Lums feed into your total and can be spent on various things in-game. Aside from the aforementioned artwork and characters, there are also various boosts which can be purchased before the start of each course. For more casual players this will be a huge boon - one bonus in particular highlights the ideal route through each level, ensuring you will pick up every single Lum on your dash to the finish line. You can also purchase extra health.
As before, the game introduces you gradually to various elements. At the start you only need to worry about jumping, but before long you'll be punching through enemies, hovering to extend the reach of your jumps, and more besides. It's a nice carry-over from the main games on other platforms and means that players of all skills shouldn't find themselves overwhelmed.
All of this is framed in the gorgeous graphics and catchy music that anyone familiar with the series will already know about. It has to be said: the presentation in this game is truly glorious and puts many other me-too spin-offs of console games to utter shame.
Difficulty seems to have been toned down a notch to start with - not least due to the fact that it's rare to not be able to afford the power-up at the start of each level which shows you exactly when to jump - but as levels go on, the reflexes needed to keep up with the action steadily increase, and upon a perfect run of each course, a much more difficult version unlocks. It's a very good balance.
Of course, it wouldn't be a mobile game without in-app purchases, and they are present here too. Thankfully though you never feel like you need to spend real cash. While you can buy additional Lums to help you afford those art and character unlocks, it's just as easy to replay earlier levels and you'll certainly want to in order to get that perfect run.
All in all, Rayman Fiesta Run is not only a perfect example of how to do a mobile spin-off, it stands as a fantastic mobile game in its own right, one which will appeal to both casual and serious gaming fans alike and with a level of thought and care that is refreshing in a time when so many sequels on mobile platforms take the phrase "more of the same" a bit too literally for comfort.