Review by clarkisdark

"What Wii Sports should have been"

Rayman has, countless times before, been very successful in creating memorable characters. And it seems every leading group of villains becomes even more amusing as the series moves on, from the robot pirates in Rayman 2 to the Hoodlums in the last Rayman adventure. This trend may have gone overboard in Raving Rabbids, however, because these new creatures completely steal the spotlight and turn what should be a Rayman game into something truly bizarre.

It's no surprise, then, that the rabbids themselves are among some of the best character designs in recent games. Cute, disturbing, and always hilarious, it's impossible to observe their antics without laughing. And that alone makes up for the game looking a little too much like a previous Gamecube effort. Polygon counts are low, and load times are frequent, but none of that matters when you see a rabbit get shot in the face with a plunger.

Along those lines, the rabbids are constantly yelling and crying and grunting. Their shrill screams are unlike anything heard before, but instead of quickly becoming annoying, it's funny every time. While the music isn't remarkable on its own, it works really well in the context of the game. Squeaky covers of popular songs like "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" accompany the dance sequences, and eerie circus music echoes during moments when you've actually entered a bunny's brain.

So it's pretty obvious by now Raving Rabbids is not an ordinary game. It's not even an ordinary Rayman platformer. Instead, this is a collection of mini-games tied together as a series of trials Rayman must perform at whim of his rabbid captors. Some games are quite simple, like a jump rope challenge, but others run much deeper. There are on-rails shooter sequences where you blast bunnies with plungers and even racing levels. What makes this so fun is just how wacky it is. Tilting a table to lead a ball through a maze sounds kind of lame, but it's made all the more amusing since the table is a bunny's brain, and the ball is what will help him recognize that he just got hit over the head with a club. Another game puts you in charge of conducting a chorus of rabbids, and the task becomes finding which bunny is singing out of key and smacking him upside the head.

All of this comes together thanks to the integration of the Wii remote. Just about everything you could possibly think to do with a motion-sensing controller is taken advantage of. The shooter levels play just like a light gun arcade game. The dancing trials have you shaking the remote and nunchuck in tune with the music just like you were playing Donkey Konga (without the clunky extra peripherals). But, of course, some games get a little carried away and will make you tired. For instance, there is a challenge where you have to swing the remote around like a lasso in order to toss a cow so many meters. It's difficult as is, but each successive try is even harder, because your arm gets too sore.

On top of that, some of the Wii functionality just doesn't go over well. One trial wants you to listen to the remote speaker for cues on where you're supposed to go, but it doesn't seem to work right, and beating the level is more a game of chance. Another has you steering Rayman through rings of smoke as he falls through the sky by tilting the controller. It's so sensitive, though, the whole thing just becomes a frustrating mess that you can't wait to get over with.

Lasting Appeal:
Despite this, Raving Rabbids features over 70 mini-games. Unfortunately, many of these are just "harder" versions of the same thing, thereby limiting what initially sounded like a huge bag of tricks. The dancing sequences in particular are used way too much, and their impact soon gets lost. But being a mini-game compilation, you can take all of these into the multiplayer mode. The problem here lies in too many of these challenges not allowing simultaneous play. You have to take turns. How is a party game a party game if everyone can't tackle it all at once? Disappointing.

Wii Sports may have come bundled with the system to prove its worth, but Raving Rabbids actually does a better job of showing you what the Wii can do. Plus, the completely insane and hilarious presentation is something you don't get to see very often. It's just hard to recommend keeping this one in the long run. Too many of the mini-games don't work well or are overkilled, and the multiplayer aspect goes to waste. But the rabbids are such a delight, we can only hope they appear again in another game. Maybe they'll be integrated into a traditional Rayman platformer. Now wouldn't that be a treat.

+ Hilarious
+ Great use of the controller
+ Nice variety of mini-games
-- Though many are duds
-- And several are reused over and over
-- Disappointing multiplayer

Score: 7/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 11/25/06

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