Review by horror_spooky

"War of the Rabbids"

Mini-game compilations have been a plague that the Wii has suffered from since its release, and a lot of gamers have the false idea in their head that all mini-game collections are trash. Rayman Raving Rabbids proved that mini-games can be a blast and it definitely impressed me with its great graphics and great audio selection. Since the original did well, it was obvious that Ubisoft would be creating a sequel as soon as possible, and I'm glad that they've finally gotten around to releasing Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 that, while it is definitely still a great game, fails to live up to the legacy of its predecessor.

While the original game focused on exhibiting the mini-games in an arena-like hub where you had to complete three mini-games, do a boss level and then move on, you go on “trips” in the sequel where you play random mini-games in each location and then you're done. There are no boss levels and you don't even have to perform well in the mini-games to go on, meaning that there is virtually no challenge. So, how in the world could this game be any fun at all?

The original game did include some multiplayer modes, but in a lot of the multiplayer games you had to take turns playing, which really wasn't all that great. The developers have learned from this mistake and the sequel is very much multiplayer driven and you can play the entire main game with up to four players. The game then becomes a competition to see who can earn the most points in each game, and depending on what place you end up in, you get two-to-eight points added to a separate score at the end of all the mini-games, whoever has the most points in the latter category wins. This is where the challenge and fun comes into play.

For each day in the arena in the original Raving Rabbids you had to complete three out of four mini-games and then do a boss level like I mentioned earlier, but for each trip in Raving Rabbids 2, you play six mini-games. I enjoyed the mini-games much more this time around especially because they don't start repeating themselves and they some of them aren't nigh impossible. If you aren't familiar with the concept of the series, some of the mini-games will have you throwing crumpled pieces of paper at a teacher while another mini-game will have you building up a burp to destroy an entire city block. As you can tell, there is a pretty wide variety in what you can do.

The fourth mini-game in the original game was always this rhythm/music game and it was actually pretty fun. Now the sixth mini-game is always the music game and it is actually improved. You pick an instrument before you start, and the instruments range from drums to a trumpet, and stars under the instrument will tell you how difficult it will be to play, so you have an idea what instrument to pick based on your skill level. A nunchuck symbol and a Wii remote symbol will scroll down the top of the screen and you have to flick them when they reach your little box at the bottom. Sometimes you'll have to shake the Wii remote or move the nunchuck around in a circular motion. While this is all fine and good and it's actually more entertaining than the first game, sometimes the game would read that I flicked the nunchuck twice when I definitely only flicked it once, a problem that I didn't have with the original title.

You could customize Rayman in a variety of outfits in the previous title and this time you can customize not only Rayman but some Rabbids as well with much more choices this time around. Your choices for costumes range from a mime to Altair from Assassin's Creed. You unlock these costumes mostly by getting high scores in the trips, but your characters aren't the only things you can customize this time around. You can even create your own trips, which works basically like a play list of your favorite mini-games, which was a great idea.

One of my favorite features about the original game was the on-rails first-person shooter segments that were full of destructible environments and did have some interesting gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately, Ubisoft has perverted this mode and it's a real shame because this is the main reason why Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 is inferior to the original.

These segments are now played with actual footage of real life locations with the Rabbids and your plungers digitally inserted into the game. While this was a neat graphical trick, it eliminates the destructible environments, which is just annoying. On top of that, there is pretty much no challenge at all because you don't die…ever. You basically play and try to get points and if you play with a friend you are against each other to see who can rack up the most points.

There is still a variety of Rabbids to shoot though. Some Rabbids are normal Rabbids who just try to shoot you with plungers and there are huge Rabbids who throw things at you. A new type of Rabbid enemy is really tiny ones that are extremely fast and hard to hit, but some old favorites like the spider mechs and UFOs return.

At the end of each level there is a boss fight and the boss fights are definitely more varied than in the previous game. There are still some baddies that require you to simply shoot their missiles back at them, but sometimes you'll have to defeat a certain number of enemies before you are allowed to take on the bosses.

Some of the power-ups from the previous game return like the multi-shot plungers, but there are also new power-up like one where a ton of plungers fall out of the sky and another one that turns your plunger into a grenade. Most of the power-ups hinder the other player like making it so their shots won't earn them points for a certain amount of time, one where the other player can only shoot once before reloading, and another one where the other player's plungers are shrunk down to be very tiny, meaning they have to be extremely accurate in order to hit the Rabbids.

Retained from the previous game is the ability to shoot a radio to cause the Rabbids to start dancing, giving you more chances for accurate shooting. Unfortunately, some of the better features from the previous game aren't included. I loved Rayman's ability to use his hand to grab onto enemies to use them as shields or to throw them into other Rabbids, but this has been omitted. Also, you reload simply by tapping the A button instead of shaking the nunchuck, which takes away from the level of interactivity.

You can listen to music you've unlocked by accessing the jukebox and you can also play individual mini-games in a free play mode if you so wish, though playing them grouped together in trips makes much more sense because I doubt you're going to turn on the game and just want to play one of the mini-games.

Ever since Rayman escaped from their lair in the first game, the Rabbids have set their sights on the entire world and have launched an invasion. So, Rayman has disguised himself as Rabbid in order to infiltrate their inner-workings and stop their invasion. The opening scene showed potential of a decent story with Rayman being able to trick the Rabbids and a leader Rabbid shown with one red eye and one blue eye who is a little more intelligent than the other Rabbids showing up, but none of it ever fleshes out to amount to anything, which is very disappointing. On the other hand, the game is funnier than the first game and there are plenty of cultural references sprinkled throughout, including parodies of Naruto, Splinter Cell, Spider Man, Ghost Recon, Power Rangers, and The Terminator, among others.

I was very disappointed with the graphics this time around. While the first game easily had some of the best graphics on the Wii, Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 is just plain ugly. A lot of the mini-games don't even come close to looking as good as the original and everything just seems to have had less attention paid to it. On top of that, the developers decided to use real life as a background for the shooting segments, which, while it is a neat trick, it means that the destructible environments and great looking environments are gone. Everything looks a little grainy and the game does seem a little rushed in the graphics department. Some of the cheap graphical tricks are reused in this title for some unexplainable reason, but there definitely seems to be more Rabbids appearing on the screen at once. Also, I was definitely impressed with the opening cut scene as it was extremely detailed, very well done, and there's no reason why the whole game couldn't have looked that good.

Those weird little noises that the Rabbids make are still hilarious and the game's original score is just as great as the famous tracks that are there for the rhythm mini-games and the jukebox. Some of the tracks include “Celebration” and “Smoke on the Water” so there is something there for everyone to enjoy.

Another problem with Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 is longevity. You can probably play every mini-game and all of the shooting games in less than two hours, while the previous game lasted around four to six hours. Granted, the original game did repeat some of the mini-games, but you still wanted to play through it just to see what happened to Rayman. The mini-games are more entertaining this time around and while there is less of them, you will still come back to play through your favorites and all of the multiplayer options are nice. Plus, there are is plenty to unlock to keep the completist busy and with costumes taken from things like Assassin's Creed and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there is plenty to love.

I was expecting more out of this game, but that doesn't mean it is a bad game. The mini-games are a blast and it's always great to play with friends, plus the audio quality is superb. With a sequel on the horizon, I hope the developers reintegrate some of the missing features from the original game and bring the graphics back to the quality they were in the original if not better. Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 is a great mini-game collection with enough pop culture references to keep the laughs coming and keep you playing.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/29/08

Game Release: Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 (US, 11/15/07)

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