Review by Arkrex
"More Mini-game Mayhems, too!"
Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 for the DS is less like its predecessor - a predominantly 2.5D platformer - and more like its home console brethren. It offers thirty-six different mini-games featuring the titular stark raving mad rabbids, and it makes good use of DS functionality - touch screen and mic - much like how the home console Wii versions make good use of unique motion controls and waggling. Both the Wii and DS just can't get enough of gimmicky mini-game compilations, but if you're one of those gamers who can't resist some cheap quick thrills, Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 is one of the best mini-game mixes currently available for the DS.
To help prepare Earth for the inevitable Rabbid invasion, Rayman must investigate the behaviour of several not-so covert Rabbid spies littered across the globe. The story never develops past its introduction (you get the same text interludes upon completion of each segment), and the premise is merely an excuse to hop between the six locales that provide the geographical backdrop for the mini-games. Heck, you don't even get to see Rayman himself in any of the mini-games; apparently you are viewing everything from his observatory perspective.
It should be of no surprise that a couple of duds reside within this compilation (as is the case with all mini-game compendiums). The majority of the mini-games are indeed fun, but a significant proportion of them are good for one-time only. There are rhythm-action games, and challenges that test how accurately you can spray paint an image or draw its outline. There is a game where you'll have to tap the left and right footprints on the touch screen to make your Rabbid race across a wooden plank, stopping to avoid the occasional overhead hazard. Memorisation and recall activities make the cut, too, each one having undergone a Raving Rabbid makeover to make them stand out from the usual derivative mini-games, such as taking the food orders of a Rabbid customer which is especially funny with some of them - the schizophrenic Rabbid expresses his request as a pixelly image which you'll have to decipher.
The allure of the Rabbids is what carries this game forwards. Although you do make some good uses of swiping/tapping the touch screen and blowing/shouting into the mic, we've already seen most of it done before. One of the games requires you to shout as loud as possible (you can turn up mic sensitivity so that you don't look too stupid) to make as much noise as possible in a movie theatre, and then when the usher comes in, you have to rapidly tap on the screen to make phone calls to the other Rabbid patrons so that they get in trouble (e.g. a fridge dropped onto them) instead of you. It's great for a laugh, but the jokes wear thin on multiple playthroughs.
This leads me onto one of the flaws in the single-player design - you have to play through each set of mini-games multiple times to unlock the next location. Even if you fail at a game, you'll still earn points which contribute to progress, but you'll still have to replay them a lot. It doesn't help that the more interesting ones take longer to finish, hence you'll be grinding for points by playing through the quick and painful ones instead.
Once you've unlocked them all, though, it's time to party. You can then play for hi-scores, take on up to three friends in several of the mini-games, or toy around with your own personalised Rabbid that is the star of the show. Completing levels and score challenges will net you some weird and wacky accessories, and if you really want to make your Rabbid look like a psychotic freak of nature, drooling with blood and wearing a thong, you can. You may also beat them up or record a line of voice for them to scream out, but the virtual pet aspect really isn't all that interesting; it's just amusing to have them appear in the crazy mini-games as they spit carrot goop into other Rabbids's drinking glasses, or spar with you in a fun take on touch screen boxing (of which the mini-game is more enjoyable than the freeplay activity).
So should you dive into Rayman's latest adventure? Well it depends on how much of a Rabbids fan you are, and whether or not you still fancy brainless, but fun mini-games. Ubisoft certainly did a good job of recreating the insanity of home console experience for the DS, adding in a Rabbid customisation feature to make the package even more enticing, but it won't sway you if you're not into this sort of stuff. For fans of the genre, and the Raving Rabbids, don't miss this one.
VERDICT - 7.5/10 - The Raving Rabbids rock, but where art thou Rayman!?
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 11/20/07
Game Release: Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 (EU, 11/16/07)
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