The Rub Rabbits! (DS) review
"What I can tell you however, is that XY/XX 2 hasn't evolved all that much. You're still going to play the role of a hapless fool in love, and you're still going to tackle a range of mini-games that are as exciting as they are tedious... though fans might appreciate the thought."
Where Do Babies Come From?
Don't answer that! It's a rhetorical question and my father's already made the ins and outs quite clear. The old man even went into excruciating detail, covering both male and female genitalia, the 3 stages of pregnancy, and carried on right up to the part where my life is supposed to come crashing down around me... it was a most humbling experience. Unfortunately however, what he failed to mention were the jealous lovers, piranhas, and robotic crabs. All of which have as much to do with making babies as Barry Manilow and a bottle of dry, red wine. At least, that's what Sega's Aka Chan wa Dokokara-Kurono? (aka Feel the Magic: XY/XX 2) has to say...
Rabbit? Rub it? Sod it!
Just ask Sonic Team, 12 months in the gaming industry can be a very long time. Since the release of Feel the Magic: XY/XX almost a year ago, gamers have watched the DS grow from a mere novelty toy, to a true powerhouse of portable gaming. Be it Castlevania's 2D action or Ouendan's feel good vibes, the recent crop of releases are about as far removed from last year's tech-demos as we could possibly hope. And though a simple, touch screen gimmick was once enough to impress, DS owners have recently tasted evolution and are hungry for more. We demand a little depth with our action, some innovation with our touching, and let's be honest now, a challenge might be nice as well...
Feel the Magic: XY/XX 2 will fail you on all three counts.
You know there's a problem when you can read the thought processes behind a game's creation, and ultimate marketing inside its opening few minutes. A familiar theme song gets under way and a phrase such as "lets squeeze Joe Gamer one more time" springs to mind, while a recycled premise inspires the classic "it won't cost us a thing to rehash". But perhaps I'm being unfair, and perhaps Sonic Team thought another tech-demo might separate us from Advance Wars and Kirby... who knows? What I can tell you however, is that XY/XX 2 hasn't evolved all that much. You're still going to play the role of a hapless fool in love, and you're still going to tackle a range of mini-games that are as exciting as they are tedious... though fans might appreciate the thought.
The question then is, how much did you enjoy the original? There's no doubt that XY/XX 2's increased variety and improved pacing has done wonders for the concept, as have the tweaked visuals and other, minor improvements. What was once a short, albeit charismatic trek through 17 mini-games has more than doubled in size, swelling to a welcome 37 events of varying quality. And though XY/XX 2 recycles from both its own, and its predecessor's line-up, there's no denying that some will have a ball. One minute you're dodging left and right up an escalator in order to catch the attention of a young woman, the next your touching her nose in a simple game of Simon Says. Of course, then there's the return of the Bull Charge, an annoying mini-game used not once, but twice in the original, and yet again here just for the hell of it.
But that's OK right? The silhouetted visuals are as striking as ever, and the humor actually hits its mark more often than not. Does it worry you that all you're really doing is tapping, rubbing, and scratching the screen with nary a thought for technique? For this reviewer... yeah it matters, and no amount of wacky screen turning, DS twisting hijinks are going to change that. XY/XX 2's biggest improvement then, is the way it asks players to occasionally tilt their screens 90 degrees to the left (or completely upside down) in order to tackle the next event. A warning prepares players for the change in perspective, you twist the DS and it's game-on as usual, only now with added cramps.
Believe it or not though, XY/XX 2 isn't all bad, it's just frustrating for all the wrong reasons. Between the humdrum, players are sure to enjoy the title's infectious good vibes as they set about romancing, and ultimately bedding, the object of their desire. XY/XX 2's remixed soundtrack for instance, nicely builds on the original's trademark tunes with a range of funkified, Beethoven-esque classics. With fireworks exploding overhead, your on-screen character slides up to his woman as Jacques Offenbach's Can-Can from Orpheus in the Underworld plays in the background. Shouts of Rub it! are tossed in freely, and the two lovers finally embrace. Who cares if it doesn't make much sense? You're lost in the moment, and feeling the magic for a few minutes at least...
Still, XY/XX 2 should have been more. It should have been to the DS today as the original was back then: displaying a wealth of possibility and untold promise of things to come. The excitement felt a year ago when you first rubbed your way through courtship was certainly remarkable, now it just seems tired and old. Some random difficulty spikes haven't helped things either, though I'm willing to concede they're needed if only to ensure the game's overall longevity. From beginning to end then, this attempt to explain the facts of life will be over in little more than a day. And like my father who once put things in perspective, Feel the Magic: XY/XX 2 ends in grief. Not with the joyous tones of love, but the disappointing pangs of what might have been.
* There are now 37 mini-games in total
* Pacing is much improved, as is variety
* The plot is perhaps, more enjoyable than before
* The same, distinct visuals are back in full effect
* Feel the Magic: XY/XX still has a great soundtrack
* Those that haven't tired of the original will dig this
* The novelty value wore off months ago
* Feel the Magic: XY/XX 2 is just more of the same
* Gameplay is neither deep nor rewarding
* Some mini-games frustrate a little too much
* The maniacs mode is just as pointless as ever
* Rub, scratch, blow, repeat...
Staff review by Michael Scott (October 29, 2005)
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