Review by aubradley84

Reviewed: 06/05/07

That French Bunny Thinks He's Superman! (The previous sentence is true... and makes no sense)

When I was finally able to lay my hands on a Wii I realized I had to look for a game that fully utilized the controller. All the gaming mags and industry smarties had been saying that Rayman Raving Rabbids was a must-own title, one that would make you a true believer in Nintendo’s Little White Wonder. They weren’t completely wrong, but I definitely won’t be standing in line to buy a sequel.

First thing’s first, you’d probably like to know what the game is about, and that’s a terrific question because no one really knows. You see, the game begins with Rayman and his mute toadie friends having a lovely picnic in the forest. However, as most picnics tend to end, Rayman and friends are abducted by crazed rabbits who then force our hero to compete in a number of minigames so he can earn the most valued of all items… toilet plungers. Not long into the affair, Rayman deciphers that these plungers can be used to build a ladder to escape his cell, and that his only hope for freedom is to keep competing in the hopes of using the powers of suction to win the day.

Each day Rayman is led into an arena where four qualifying minigames and one “end boss” challenge await him. You start your challenge with a very hostile crowd, with crazed bunnies waving clubs and pitchforks and presumably calling for your blood. Each game has some sort of silly theme starring the rabbits, and you will compete in contests as varied as bowling for bunnies and slamming shut outhouse doors. Complete enough games and you’re allowed to tackle the big challenge, which usually consists of either wild boar racing or a first-person shooter on rails starring you and your trusty plunger gun. As you progress through the game the crowd will first grow indifferent toward your success, and then begin hailing you as champion. It’s actually quite amusing toward the end when every time you leave your holding cell you are greeted by a round of bunnies showering you with confetti and singing a sort of perverted Mozart.

The minigames that make up the bulk of the title are nicely varied and, for the most part, effectively utilize the Wiimote. There are over 30 challenges to face, though you do start to face repeats as the game nears its end. Moreover, there are a few games that are unrealistically difficult, and a couple that are downright broken. One night I spent well over an hour on a single challenge and still was unable to ever complete it due to the fact that the controller wouldn’t recognize a critical object on one side of the screen. It was moments like these that got me thinking about all those remotes getting thrown through TV screens and making me thankful I had my wrist strap on tight. Rest assured loyal readers, had I not cinched that strap up nice and tight I would be explaining to Best Buy why I have to return a TV with a suspicious looking hole…

Really this game is all about the controls and the fun factor, but the graphics and sound deserve a quick mention. While the looks of the game won’t blow anyone away, it’s not an eyesore by any means. The opening cutscene is actually mildly impressive, and the in-game graphics are nothing to sneeze at. The only noticeable issue lies with the “cardboard cutouts” of the rabbids in the arena. They suffer from “Madden crowd syndrome” and are just downright painful to look at. Luckily, the rest of the game does a good job making up for this shortcoming. The game also hits a fair note with the sound, as the bunnies only speak in yells and gibberish, which feels appropriate for some reason. Since the critters never exude one iota of intelligence, it makes sense that they wouldn’t be able to master spoken language.

So now that we’ve talked about the good, we must sadly turn to the bad. The most frustrating thing about the game is the aforementioned broken controls on certain games, but there are other issues as well. The game has a very odd sense of humor, which straddles the line between uproarious and dumb. Intellectual and social humor is quickly mixed with literal toilet humor, and the abrupt changes can be a bit of a shock to the system. While it’s fair to say the game hits more than it misses, the misses are dramatic and downright painful.

For all the critical praise this title mustered, I could never find myself more than mildly interested in it. I enjoyed dancing along to the rabbit dance parties and twirling my remote as I flung a cow, but I could never quite muster up enough sustained interest to play the game for more than about ten minutes at a time. It’s definitely a game best enjoyed in small chunks, but I’m one who really needs more substance if I’m going to plunk down $50 for a title. So overall, the game is a fair attempt to do something exciting with a new system, but there is definitely a fair bit of room for improvement before the next outing.

Overall Score: 5.75 out of 10

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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