Review by Arkrex
When Bunnies Go Mad
When the time comes for rabbits to take over the world (we all know it's gonna happen sooner or later), never fear, Rayman is here. Although he may not have any limbs to speak of, this French creation has shown that he's got the guts to tackle any situation, no matter how ridiculous it seems. Rayman Raving Rabbids for the Nintendo DS is NOT the same game as the console versions which share a similar name. Whereas those games were focused on mini-games utilising the innovative 'Wiimote' or standard conventional hand-controller/keyboard-mouse, Rayman's appearance on the DS follows the more traditional route of a side-scrolling platformer. It's a light excursion, nowhere near his past misadventures, but it's fun while it lasts. A couple of extras which could only be done on the DS add some interesting new flavours, but not enough to make it stand out in the crowd. Do take notice if you are a Rayman fan though; fighting off rabbids is still fun whichever way you look at it.
Visuals - 7
Sound & Music - 6
Gameplay - 8
Controls - B
Longevity - C (~ 4 hours)
Replayability - C (Once the brief adventure is over, it's over)
Difficulty - Easy
Arrghh!! - 8
VERDICT - 7.5
In 3-part Harmony
Rayman Raving Rabbids is predominantly a 2.5D platformer. If you are familiar with his past 2D games, you'll find yourself at home with his primary sucker-punch attack and his trademark helicopter floating ability. The level design is very average, and limitations due to the use of a fully 3D engine show through like a sore thumb. Enemies are mostly mindless inconveniences that can be easily bypassed, and the rabbids that feature here aren't that much better. However, there is a good dose of jumping action mixed in with some simple puzzle solving which makes this a great game for the younger, albeit somewhat experienced, gamer.
After you reach the goal of every platforming level, you will then have to unsheathe your stylus as you move on to the next 2 sections. First you will have to complete one of a few mini-games, including dragging food to a plate, smacking up some cardboard cut-out rabbids, and the obligatory memory-based activity. Apart from the Missile Command clone, all of these mini-games have been seen and done to death. You cannot compare them to the console versions. But since they are short and simple and not thrusted at you too often, they provide some neutral filler before the best part to come.
Finally you arrive at the stylus-guiding challenges. Rayman walks on his own accord here as he casually strides towards the exit, picking up trophies along the way, whilst being chased by a couple of lunatic bunnies in a U.F.O. He has access to 4 different costumes (gotten from the main platforming sections), and each one infuses a different power into you stylus. Green allows you to move blocks, red gives you the ability to burn through ropes, blue lets you freeze flowing water, and white can spin fans. That's just a brief run-down, but they all need to be utilised at some stage, whether it be to build a makeshift bridge or spring Rayman to higher/lower paths. Controls are tight here, although touchscreen precision can cause a few minor problems at times. These sections are arguably the best part of this game, and it's good to see DS specific functions used in this kind of context; separated from the times when the d-pad and buttons combo is better suited for.
I- just wanna have fun
Platforming games are never meant to be overly long and complex, but Rayman is really pushing it here. The main game only lasts a few hours, which seems reasonable, but seeing as there isn't anything more to it after you've toppled the final boss, it's not quite a keeper. There are 100 trophies in all to collect, and you will require each and every one of them to access the final stage. Unlike your usual collect'em up platformer, Raving Rabbids forces you to have everything before you move on. It's not hard though. Each level nets you 1-3 trophies (gotten in the final stylus-driven segment) and each level lasts for 5-10 minutes each. The stats menu is pretty useless because of this, especially since the game tells you where you need to go next at all times. The final 36 trophies which can be grabbed within 10 minutes via 3 schmup endeavours, makes this game deceptively shorter than you would think.
In general the platforming is sound, and the abilities that Rayman can use when atop trigger spots add some moments of logical thought. I especially enjoyed the bits where you had to swing across pits by hooking onto rings with your lum-chained whip; Castlevania's Simon would be proud. I don't quite share the same feelings with the camera system, which always dedicates two-thirds of screen space to what's in front of you at all times. Just like in the GBA's Prince of Persia and Lady Sia (dunno why these 2 just popped into my head), it can be pretty disorientating when making quick turns. It isn't too bad early on, but later jumping sections can be tricky because of the quick change in focus. Also, Rayman's 'stickiness' to platform edges may save you from many a slip, but it's rather annoying when he just won't let go and you just want to move on.
Raving Rabbids contains 5 worlds, if you could call them that. You don't have a main hub world which links to others (like in the previous 3D games), but instead select where to go from a strict map. The introductory world is a beach level which houses only 2 levels. You then have the grasslands, a temple, and some volcanic caverns, each with 3 levels of their own. Lastly the icelands are where you will find your 2 only boss stages, both of which leave your tastebuds wanting something more. Not a lot of levels eh? Well it's longer than that, kinda. Each level needs to be passed through 2-3 times in order to reap all the trophies they have to offer. As you gain new abilities, such as climbing or freezing powers, you will have to play through about half of any given level until you reach the split point. This means each level is about 2 times longer than normal, but it also means you have to do a bit of re-tracking as well; luckily they are short - wait, wasn't that a BAD thing?
You are my Ancel
Michel Ancel (ace Ubisoft game designer) wasn't a major player for this portable iteration, and it shows. Without the big budget to blow like the console versions had, graphically and aurally Raving Rabbids isn't much to show for. The 3D models are very simple and lo-res, and when the camera zooms out you won't even be able to tell 'Rayman' from 'a man' :P At least the framerate is reasonably smooth, and the team has to be commended for pulling it off in full 3D with the limited powers of the DS.
Music is truly a mixed bag of decent tracks and rubbish remixes. You've got a rabbid's take on oldies such as La Bamba and Girl's Just Wanna Have Fun which sound terrible and do not fit the mood of this kind of game. Further on in the game these tracks are replaced with more typical Rayman fare; they aren't great, but at least they are bearable. The stylus challenges feature classic surf rock, which fares much better than both of the above.
If I were to grade each major aspect of Raving Rabbids qualitatively, it would be as follows: technical show -> average; platforming -> average; stylus play -> average; fun -> above average. Okay, it's not quite comprehensive, but the take home message is that, despite the 'average' look of the product, the gameplay (which obviously is where I derive my 'fun' from) is of a high(er) standard. It's an easy game to play and it won't take long to get right to the very end. Once you're done you can enjoy some R&R with some additional levels of stylus challenges or indulge in the odd mini-game or mockery of a schmup. I can guarantee that you won't find more than 10 hours of gameplay here, but I can almost guarantee that you will find 5 that you won't regret spending.
7.5/10 - A great platformer for the DS. An average platformer overall
My Score System a score of 7 from me denotes a good, solid game. Excellence earns a higher grade, whilst 4-6 reflects a below average product; glitchy, unplayable games deserve less.
13/03/07 - Dedicated to Icehawk (don't ask me why, not sure myself)
Rating: 3.5 - Good
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