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Rayman: Raving Rabbids (Wii) artwork

Rayman: Raving Rabbids (Wii) review

"Youíll chuck cows and rabbids, kick animals, shear them, slap them on the head with shovels and pretty much make a nuisance of yourself, all to the great delight of the rabbids. Itís sick and twisted, even funny. Is it fun, though? Well, yes and no."

If you saw a cow trembling so hard that its knees were knocking together, what would you do? Would you take pity on its plight and maybe treat it to a warm cup of cocoa or would you tie it up with a chain, swing it around at armís length, then send it flying off into the distance in hopes of chucking it further than it had ever been chucked before? If your name is Rayman and you have a herd of angry rabbids cheering you on, youíll almost certainly do the latter.

You know Rayman from all the times heís helped the helpless, saved those others didnít believe could be saved. You probably donít picture him as the particularly cruel sort. That will change after you play Rayman: Raving Rabbids. This is the armless wonder as youíve never seen him: figuratively strapped to the wall and forced to do the bidding of a bunch of devious white creatures that look like rabbits but call themselves Ďrabbids.í

As the game opens, Rayman is sitting on a picnic blanket with some good friends nearby, preparing to enjoy what looks to be a delicious meal. Then tragedy strikes. A rampaging bunch of rabbids come onto the scene and though Rayman offers them his sausage, they want something much more sinister: his captivity. So it is that heís thrown unceremoniously into a dank cell, left to fend for himself until the moment he is forced to participate in a cruel series of games. Consider them a twisted version of the Olympics. Consider them the meat and potatoes of Rayman: Raving Rabbids.

The single-player game works thusly: you start your day in a cell and you knock on the door so that you can be allowed into the arena. Once there, you choose from one of four doors and complete a mini-game. If you win, that door is grayed out. When youíve grayed out three of the four doors, a gate opens and you can proceed directly through it for an event challenge, or you can complete the fourth mini-game to unlock something cool like a song for your jukebox (back in the cell) or a neat outfit for Rayman to wear (in multi-player). Like most of the rest of the game, the interface is simple and effective, just the way the rabbids like it.

Speaking of rabbids, theyíre definitely the focus of the game. Rayman is little more than an avatar. Throughout the process he remains cheerful, even when a bird is crapping on his head. Thatís just the sort of fellow he is. Heíll play the twisted little games the rabbids demand because at the end of the day, theyíll give him one more plunger he can use to construct his stepladder up the cell wall and out to freedom.

Mini-games are all over the map. One finds you pulling worms from a rabbidís decaying teeth. You get a nice close-up of the whole procedure, complete with Cheshire-cat grins from the squirming nuisances. In another you spray carrot juice toward rabbids so they drown in their own vice. Youíll chuck cows and rabbids, kick animals, shear them, slap them on the head with shovels and pretty much make a nuisance of yourself, all to the great delight of the rabbids. Itís sick and twisted, even funny. Is it fun, though? Well, yes and no.

Some games really do entertain. When youíre drawing lines around strange objects so theyíll materialize out of the air and a rabid will eat them until his stomach nearly bursts, thatís fun. When rabbids are singing a song and you have to find and slap the one thatís off-key (with hilarious assistance from his classmates), thatís fun. Such moments are counter-balanced by frustration in other mini-games, however. Rolling a ball through a maze is fun for five seconds, until you find that some corners are nearly impossible to round without dropping the ball prematurely down a chute. Moving a crane overhead to try and uproot rabbids is fun too, until the guy running around on the ground keeps getting in the way and wasting your valuable time. In fact, many of the mini-games suffer from a similar flaw. They have all the makings of true classics, with one little annoyance thrown in that takes the challenge just a little bit too far and ruins the whole venture.

Part of this has to do with unrealistic expectations from the Wii controller and pudgy gamer arms. One game in particular comes to mind. Rayman is riding down some mine tracks on a handcart. He must pump like crazy so that when he reaches the end, his rabid cohort goes flying a very long distance. As the player, you make sure this happens by alternately pumping both halves of your controller up and down. Itís clever but it leaves you with tired arms and wonít send your partner flying nearly far enough. When you work at such games for awhile and finally pass them, youíll feel relieved. When they come back later in your campaign but are even harder, youíll groan. Thatís when you know that something is a little wrong with Raving Rabbids.

Fortunately, the game gets a lot of other things right. The mini-games make up a fair portion of your adventure, but there are other diversions. One is a rhythm game. Rayman stands at the center of a podium with a laser panel on either side. As music plays, you treat the Wii controllerís two halves like a set of drumsticks, timing each thump as rabbids rush you from the sides. If you do well, your score skyrockets. If you donít, youíll get nowhere. Itís very cool, and made even better by cheesy remixes of old favorites or guilty pleasures. ĒGirls Just Wanna Have FunĒ has never sounded better.

Another excellent addition to the gameís whacky line-up comes in the form of on-rails shooting sequences. These range from Ďgreatí to Ďcompletely fantastic,í and alone make the game worth its admission price. From a first-person perspective, youíll fire plungers at rabbids as they leap toward the screen, cartwheel in from the side, burst out of the soil and otherwise assault you. Youíll shoot down flying saucers and roam through the hallways of a facility that looks like it came right out of GoldenEye, or storm the beach while dancing between palm trees and grass huts. The sense of humor youíve enjoyed from the rest of the game is here, along with genuinely fun gameplay that shows what the Wii can do. Mario Party never looked this good.

Whether you settle on the shooting sequences, or the rhythm games or even the mini-games, youíll definitely find something to like in Rayman: Raving Rabbids. If you have friends, they can join you in experiencing anything you might have unlocked, and you can compete for high scores or rush through the shooting sequences side-by-side, both tossing plungers and laughing your heads off. This isnít the game thatíll make you swear it was worth purchasing a Wii, but itís a fun package and a promise of great things to come. In essence, itís the perfect launch title. Get it while youíre waiting for something better, or get it because itís worthwhile on its own merits. The rabbids demand it.


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Staff review by Jason Venter (November 21, 2006)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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