Rayman Raving Rabbids Review

The Wii was designed in an attempt to be approachable by anyone; gamer and non-gamer, young and old, male or female. Much like the DS, this means many "gimmick" titles utilizing the new Wiimote in an attempt to draw in crowds who may not previous play video games. With the launch of the Wii on Sunday, many games are still struggling to actually become better with the Wii, instead opting to just tag in random uses for the remote controller to help make it seem like a Wii title. But not all launch games fail to fully utilize the new Wii control scheme.

One game which understands what Nintendo wanted to do, and does it well, is Ubisoft’s Rayman Raving Rabbids. Before you rush out and buy the game come launch, make sure you understand this: Raving Rabbids is not a traditional Rayman game. Rather than go with the tried and true platformer style Rayman was known for, Ubisoft has instead turned this game into a collection of minigames, much closer to Wario Ware than past Rayman titles. However, even though this is a far departure from typical Rayman gameplay, it may be the most fun Rayman game yet.

The basic story of the game is rather simple. Rayman is enjoying a nice picnic with friends, when suddenly the rabbits appear and kidnap the lot of them. While his friends are imprisoned in cages awaiting the eventual rescue by Rayman, Rayman himself is thrust into a coliseum, forced to partake in a series of minigames like a gladiator where he attempts to gain his eventual freedom by winning enough plungers to climb through the window. Don’t worry, it’s not supposed to make sense.

In Raving Rabbids, the minigames all utilize the new remote and nunchuck controls in different and unique ways. For example, in some games you will be forced to alternate raising the nunchuck and remote up and down in order to run. In others, you’ll use the remote to aim your plunger-gun to fight off hordes of enemy rabbits. And in my personal favorite, you’ll use the remote and nunchuck as if they are drumsticks, hitting down with either one when a rabbit crosses a certain point on the screen in a rhythm-based game. It’s not a real challenge if you have any coordination or rhythm at all, but it does create a strong desire for a drumming game in the tradition of Guitar Hero for the Wii.

Where Rabbids truly shines, however, is not in the games themselves, but in the lovable and demented little critters populating them. Just about every one of the 70 minigames uses the rabbits as the main characters or foils on screen, and it certainly pays off. From Splinter Cell rabbits to ones which are obviously a parody of the guards in the Metal Gear games, throughout the title there are little nods only gamers would recognize. Even non-gamers can appreciate the humor in Rabbids, though — although it is very sick and twisted at times.

In some games, were it not for the humor and demented nature of torturing these rabbits, the games would be no fun at all. One example that comes to mind is a game where you have to shake the nunchuck or remote in order to make a blindfolded rabbit walk around a plateau until you gather enough points to pass. How do you gather points? By making the little guy run into objects, obviously! From rakes and electrocuting televisions to bear traps and other sharp objects, each one will give you a certain amount of points if you can guide the unseeing rabbit into it.

Another twisted minigame takes the form of a typical soccer shootout. Using the remote and nunchuck to run forward as described above, Rayman will sprint towards a ball, which you then press A to kick. Rather than kicking the ball towards the goal, though, you’ll instead kick the rabbit that’s holding it. His screams of terror and agony will make even the grumpiest gamer smile.

The humor also comes through the visuals. Knowing full well the limits of the Wii hardware, Ubisoft didn’t try to make the game look incredible from a technical standpoint. Rather, the team behind Beyond Good & Evil went with the better art-style approach, and it really pays off. Each type of rabbit is entertaining to watch in its own way, and some of their animations are downright hilarious. For example, in the rhythm portion as you successfully clear certain areas of a song, more rabbits will appear on stage behind Rayman and begin to shake their furry booties. Their dancing changes slightly with each song in the game, and every time they open their mouth to scream you can’t help but laugh.

If Raving Rabbids has one weakpoint, it’s the multiplayer aspect. In a mini-game heavy title such as this, you would expect a killer multiplayer, right? Wrong. Many of the games cannot be played with two players simultaneously, and instead force you to take turns with your opponent to try and top their score. While it’s understandable given the fact that many of the games wouldn’t make sense with simultaneous play, Ubisoft really should have tried to offer a better multiplayer package. The single player is great, but if you’re looking for a fun game to play with your friends, you may want to consider picking up Super Monkey Ball instead. Don’t get me wrong, Rabbids is a blast to play in a room full of people — it just won’t win any awards for multiplayer gaming.

In the end, Rayman Raving Rabbids is not what you would expect from a Rayman title, but you really shouldn’t care. The rabbits in the game are my favorite characters in a long while, and by playing this game you’ll fall in love with the little critters, too. The minigames are fun and engaging even without support for multiplayer for most games, and many of them you’ll come back to time and time again when you want a quick break from the real world or need a laugh. If you’re looking for a game which truly showcases what the Wii is all about, or if you’re looking for a game to match your own twisted sense of humor, you’d do yourself a disservice by not picking up Raving Rabbids.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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