Review by horror_spooky

"Is there an insane asylum for animals?"

One of the first games I owned for the original PlayStation was the first Rayman game. In case you are unfamiliar with that title, it is a 2D platformer with an insane level of difficulty, so you'd think that I wouldn't spend all that much time with the game on account of I was a kid back then. Surprisingly, the challenge was never daunting and I played the hell out of that game. Fast forward a couple of console generations later and Ubisoft has decided to create a spin-off of the Rayman series, Rayman Raving Rabbids, to compliment the unique capabilities that the Wii provides. While this entry in the Rayman series is simply a collection of mini-games, it still is a lot of fun to play and is definitely a good reason to get your hands on a Wii.

Like I said, the game is mostly just a big collection of mini-games, so in order to be a good game these mini-games have to be good right? Well, for the most part, the mini-games are a lot of fun, a little funny, and there's plenty of variety to keep you interested. However, they are definitely not the best parts of the game and I'll get into what truly makes Rayman Raving Rabbids stand out as one of the best Wii games released for the system in a little bit.

An arena acts like a hub world for you to play the mini-games. You tackle four mini-games at a time, but you only really need to complete three out of the four mini-games to continue in the game. The fourth mini-game is always the same game, which can get a little repetitive, but thankfully it's a blast to play and is on par with many full length rhythm games that are released nowadays.

All of the abilities that the Wii remote possesses are taken advantage of in Rayman Raving Rabbids with some faring better than others. Some mini-games will require you to tilt the remote while others will require you to swing it frantically over your head. Sometimes you'll have to give it flicks of your wrist and other times you'll have to use it just like if it were a gun in a first-person shooter. The speaker on the remote is also used for one mini-game. Unfortunately, there were some problems where the game would all of a sudden stop reading the motions in the Wii remote, causing unneeded frustration.

Of course, the nunchuck is also used too. Sometimes it is used separately and other times you must use the Wii remote and nunchuck together. I encountered no problems with how the nunchuck controlled and I found it to be much more responsive than the Wii remote.

I mentioned earlier that there is a rhythm based mini-game that shows up for every set of mini-games. In this mini-game, a famous song plays and the Rabbids come from both the left and the right, eventually ending up on little pads by Rayman. You have to either flick the remote or the nunchuck depending on if they are on your right or left and that is like you're hitting a note in a song. If there are blue Rabbids that means you'll have to flick both the remote and the nunchuck simultaneously and if there are yellow Rabbids that just means that you'll earn more points.

Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of tracks available in Rayman Raving Rabbids, so the songs start to repeat themselves. This is where the game's biggest flaw of being repetitive comes into play and you'll soon get bored of the mini-games that they start repeating, which is just ridiculous. On top of that, some of the mini-games are simply frustrating and others can literally cause physical pain.

What makes Rayman Raving Rabbids much better than your everyday mini-game collection is that it is more than just a mini-game collection. After you complete at least three mini-games in any given set you are given the opportunity to partake in a stage before you can proceed to the next day and the next set of mini-games.

While there are three different types of games you play during these special stages, the most entertaining are the stages where it plays like an on-rails first-person shooter. Rayman is armed with a plunger and with destructible environments, power-ups, and plenty of Rabbids to shoot, this quickly becomes some of the best parts in the game. However, Rayman isn't only limited to using his plunger gun as he also can shoot his hand out like a grappling hook to grab onto a Rabbid. You can either use that Rabbid for a shield or you can launch them into more oncoming Rabbids. You reload your plunger gun by flicking the nunchuck.

Besides the obvious power-up of regenerating your health, which is represented by hearts at the top of the screen, you also get weapon upgrades. You can rapid fire the plungers and not have to worry about taking time to reload or you can shoot all of your plungers at once. There is actually a power-up that will hinder your gun by snapping your plungers in half, so you have to pay attention to what you're shooting at.

This would get boring if there wasn't a variety of enemies for you to take on, so thankfully there are different types of Rabbids that all want a piece of Rayman. The regular white Rabbids will sometimes try to shoot plungers back at you or other times they simply charge you, but they only take one hit to kill. Other kinds of Rabbids may take more hits to kill and some are even really good at dodging your plungers, like the Splinter Cell Rabbids (Rabbids dressed up like Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell games). Some Rabbids control vehicles that will shoot at you in the form of mechanical spiders and flying saucers.

Boss battles are present, but they are all fought in a similar fashion. The bosses have shields surrounding them so you won't be able to attack them with your plungers. Instead, you have to wait for them to shoot missiles at you and then you have to hit the missiles in mid-air with your plungers in order to redirect them at the boss. While this may sound a little simple and mundane, these moments can actually become pretty intense as you try to quickly knock the missile back while worrying about some Rabbids running at you with a huge spiked club.

Another type of game that might be one of the special stages is a sort of racing game where you ride a warthog. I said “sort of” racing because what place you finish in doesn't really matter. All that matters is if you complete the race in a set amount of time. These races can become a little frustrating, especially since you only get three speed boosts which are activated by flicking the remote.

Finally, the last type of special stage only occurs one time in the entire game and is then recycled for a mini-game later on. In this stage, you are forced to fly through rings in order and you can give yourself a speed boost by pushing on the analog stick. While this is all fine and good, you probably won't think it's very amazing.

Every single day before you are forced to go the arena by the psychotic Rabbids to partake in these mini-games, you can walk around your prison cell. At first, it is bland with only an open window a ton of feet above you, a ratty old mattress, a toilet, some lockers, a phonograph, and a little walkway where the Rabbids can walk by. However, as you progress through the game your room slowly becomes better. You'll earn wallpaper, a jukebox, and a glorious bed.
By completing all four mini-games in any given set, you can unlock things. You can unlock alternate costumes for Rayman to wear or you can unlock some of the songs featured in the game.

Rayman can be customized by earning alternate costumes. You aren't limited to him just wearing that costume though because you can mix and match different parts of each costume in order to create your ideally hilarious Rayman. This is done by opening the lockers in your cell. Another thing you can do in your cell is replay mini-games that have already appeared in a set so you can play them and unlock everything just in case you skipped over them before.

It's a no-brainer to include multiplayer in a game like this. Rayman Raving Rabbids includes multiplayer for up to four players and you can play all of the mini-games from the main game, but for another purpose. You can earn points in these games in order to unlock some bonus content, which is awesome because it gives you an incentive to play the mini-games more with friends.

After you complete Story Mode, you unlock a new mode in multiplayer called Challenge Mode. Challenge Mode is basically three mini-games with a certain theme to them that are back-to-back that you can complete for more points.

Some new features are included in multiplayer in the form of some variations. You can play time trials of the “bunny hunt” games (the on-rails first-person shooter segments) and you can also play those cooperatively. If you have your reticules lined up and if you both hit the fire button at the same time, you shoot a bomb instead of the usual plunger.

The bonus content in Rayman Raving Rabbids is actually pretty worth while. I couldn't care less about the concept art, there are some humorous animated shorts involving the Rabbids. The final unlockable is obviously the best one and I won't ruin what you'll unlock, but the game demands a hell of a lot from you as you have to get a mind blowing score built up in order to unlock it.

One day, Rayman is out on a picnic with his Globox friends. However, their picnic is attacked by a group of psychotic creatures that resemble rabbits named Rabbids. They kidnap the Globoxes and force Rayman to sleep in a cell while performing in their arena everyday. While this is all fine and good, the ending is absolutely horrible. I mean, The Mist bad, and that's pretty bad. Rayman doesn't really have much of a personality and a lot of the humor falls flat on its face, but the Rabbids are works of genius. They are weird as hell and nearly everything they do is memorable in some way, shape, or form. References to movies and other video games abound and some examples are Star Wars, Wild Wild West, and Splinter Cell, and these are always appreciated by fans.

Rayman Raving Rabbids is one of the best looking games on the Wii without question. Despite some frame rate problems and some cheap tricks (just look at the crowd in the arena and tell me you're not reminded of the old wrestling games on the Nintendo 64!), the game is absolutely stunning. The environments are detailed and the Rabbids look crazy as hell. Everything just has so much to life it. On top of all that, the game also boasts some destructible environments.

There are actually some pretty famous songs featured in Rayman Raving Rabbids, so the audio quality is actually very good. All of the sound effects synch up nicely and the noises that the Rabbids make are hilarious. Unfortunately, when the speaker in the remote makes sound, they come out fuzzy and garbled so you can barely make out what you're hearing, even if you have the damn thing right next to your ear.

Clocking in at about four to five hours for the Story Mode, Rayman Raving Rabbids is a really short game, so you probably still have no clue why I gave the game a nearly perfect score. Well, the replayability is pretty much through the roof. There is a ton of stuff to unlock and some of the mini-games are extremely hard to master. You can play with up to four friends plus there are a ton of challenges to complete in order and you can also build your score up in order to unlock some more bonus content.

Rayman Raving Rabbids has been on my radar ever since it was announced ages ago, and I'm glad that I have finally been able to play this really great mini-game collection that is complimented by some awesome gameplay segments. This game takes advantage of nearly every feature that the Wii has to offer so fans of the system's motion control will be glad to know that they'll be taking advantage of the Wii's unique capabilities for pretty much the entire game. A lot of people hate mini-game collection because they think they are shallow and dull, but Rayman Raving Rabbids proves that you can create a game based around mini-games and still provide an exciting and deep title that should be played by anyone with the system.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/21/08

Game Release: Rayman Raving Rabbids (US, 11/14/06)

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