"Good fun for about 5 hours"

By now, every Wii owner has the games they wanted and will be settled down for this holiday season. For those few who haven't scored themselves this year's hottest toy, I feel your pain. Well, not really but while you sit there on your computer, thinking of all those awesome and unforgettable moments you could be having on a Wii, I'll spend a few minutes of your time with this review and explain to you why Rayman Ravin Rabbids is not a must own launch title.

The Legend of Zelda is, without a doubt, a must own. Wii Sports is fun and comes bundled free. Away from these Nintendo developed titles we have a barrage of titles from Ubisoft, including Rayman Ravin Rabbids, a cute yet repetitive game that will give you some chuckles throughout its short life.

Rayman Ravin Rabbids started as a standard Rayman platformer, but changed shortly after once Ubisoft got their mittens on the Wiimote. Light bulbs started going off in the minds of those crazy French developers and Rayman was changed into the game it is today, a collection of colourful and humorous mini games that take full control of the Wiimote. While some, including myself, were worried about this sudden change from successful platformer to yet another mini game fest on the Wii, our interest was also sparked by the potential of the game however fleeting as that was. So does the change pay off in the end, or are we left feeling a little empty inside.

The story behind Rayman Ravin Rabbids is quite simple in a bizarre kind of way. Rayman is having a picnic with a few baby Globoxes when out of the ground sprout some menacing Rabbids. After a bribe goes terribly wrong, Rayman is dragged off to compete in day-to-day activities for the Rabbids' amusement. That's pretty much the story right there in a nutshell. The goal is to complete a minimum of 3 mini games per day, so you can take part in games ranging from an on rails shooter to a boar racing game in an attempt to rescue the poor baby Globoxes. The mini games vary from bizarre, to fun to just plain out scary. While they are quite entertaining, they do grow quite tiresome and as you progress further into the game you start to notice a sense of repetitiveness has fallen in.

Let me give you a quick run through on the more interesting mini games before getting to the question that's on everyone's lips, what are the controls like. One mini game has you dancing to a certain track by flicking the nunchuck or wiimote whenever the dancing Rabbids prompt you too. It's like playing a rhythm game where each flick feels like you're keeping in beat with the track and even making some music. Problems begin to arise when this mini game gets brought up several times, offering the same simple mode of play with a different track. Mini games like these make the game almost impossible to play for hours on end and will have you swapping games in no time. Probably the best mini game available here is the on rails shooting game that has you having flashbacks to the days of Time Crisis and House of the Dead in a more comical sense. With a plunger gun and an army of Rabbids, you steadily make you way through the level, blasting Rabbids away as you go. What makes this mini game stand out from the rest is not only the controls, which have you aiming and shooting with your Wiimote while reloading with the nunchuck, but the sheer amount of enjoyment you can get out of it regardless of how many times you've played it.

While there are several fun but short mini games, the game falls though with a number of awful ones. One has you rolling a ball by tilting the Wiimote through a maze to reach a hole at the end. The excitement value here for me is just as large as winning tickets to a Britney Spears concert. Then we have a giant bird picking up pigs and putting them down softly in there pen so they can have a peaceful nights sleep. I've had more fun cutting my toenails to be honest but fortunately, the good outweighs the bad, even if the good is unfairly too short of an experience. Before delving into the controls, I do have to mention one mini game that has you brutally torturing a Rabbid by making it walk into campfires, cactus plants and the good old rake. To top it off, he then gets crushed by a thousand tonnes of metal. Animal cruelty at it's finest.

The Wii is heralded as a new way to play games; fortunately for Rayman Ravin Rabbids it does just this. While the game does make an appearance on the Playstation 2, it was born and raised to be a Wii game, making full use of both the Wiimote and Nunchuk. You'll be swinging, swiping, bashing, lassoing and much more in a way that could not be done with a traditional controller. A prime example is the mini game that has you spinning the Wiimote above your head so Rayman will start spinning a much larger cow above his head until you're finally ready to let go. Do this on the Playstation 2 controller and you're more than likely going to throw the controller out the window, regardless of the fact it has absolutely no motion sensors intact. The fact is, spinning an analogue stick pales vastly in comparison to standing up and acting like a buffoon in front of your mates as you try to beat each other's scores. Ubisoft definitely created this game from the ground up to take full use of Wii's innovation and for that I applaud them, but it's a crying shame they left the game so empty and short.

The modes of play are as follow, Story Mode and Score Mode. Story Mode puts you in control of Rayman throughout a series of days full of events that the Rabbids thoughtlessly put you through. Unknown to them, the plungers they award you for completing every days tasks are getting you one step closer to victory. Leading up to the middle of the game the Rabbids have a sudden change of heart to our limbless friend and the mood of the game gets a bit more intense. Score Mode allows you to play the mini games you've played previously in an attempt to beat old records, play with friends or just to relive some of your favourite experiences. Some slight problems with these modes, while not detracting it from the overall enjoyment it can assure, can bog down the game. High scores can be entered online but come in the shape of tedious codes. If a game developer is going to implement a leaderboard system, it should not be reliant on the user to input the data. This only leads to alienation as well as annoyance as most people have better things to do than inputting codes left, right and centre. Finally the multiplayer is lacking. Most mini games have you playing one after the other instead of simultaneously however, this does allow for only one Wiimote and Nunchuk to be required.

Graphically, this game does not break the trend of most, if not all Wii launch games of being below average for next generation titles. Rayman Ravin Rabbids is on par with its third counterpart, Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc but is somewhat sadly one of the most visually pleasing games on the Wii. Expect a lot of jaggy edges and incredibly boring textures throughout the game and a lack of component cables on an LCD television don't help to make the game look any better. The music is a treat, especially when you get to hear the Rabbids sing “Girls just want to have fun” and you'll probably see this popping up in reviews and with good cause. A lack of voice acting does not hinder this game as greatly as it seems to destroy Zelda's atmosphere (not this reviewer's opinion). Instead you'll have Rayman's traditional sighs and groans and constant screaming and bellowing coming from the Rabbits as you flog and torture them throughout the mini games.

Where the game lacks in depth it excels in being fun, fresh and enjoyable for young gamers. As a gamer caught between the middle bracket I find myself enjoying some aspects of this game but being pushed away by the less serious, hardly fleshed out segments. If you are a fan of the Mario Party franchise then this is definitely one to keep a sharp eye on if you haven't already scooped it up. For curious passer by's continue walking until you reach Twilight Princess or wait until the big titles of 2007 start rolling through. Rayman Ravin Rabbids is a fun game but is over to quickly and gets boring quite quickly. I must say however, I've never had as much fun belting up animals as I have in this game. Let's hope PETA don't stumble upon this game or we may see it being pulled off shelves faster than you can say “Hot Coffee Mod”.

Graphics 6
Gameplay 7
Sound 7
Value 6
Tilt 7
Overall Score:
6.4


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 12/26/06


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