"Regardless of the game type you choose to play, you can't lose. That's literal, since your goal isn't to survive, but to rack up the highest possible score. If your Wii has an Internet connection, you can then check online leaderboards to see how you rate compared to other gamers throughout the world. Even if your only competition is the game itself, though, you'll find that achieving a gold medal is a nice challenge (particularly in some cases)."
Rabbids are insane. Gamers first met the rabbit-like creatures a year ago. The little deviants captured Rayman and locked him in a dungeon, then forced him to battle through an arena full of twisted mini-games for their amusement. That's just the sort of monsters they are. Faced with two options where one is reasonable and the other involves yelling or destruction, they'll always choose the latter. Something about that appeals to gamers, so it's no surprise that Ubisoft has already released a sequel. It's the general quality that's perhaps unexpected, since Rayman: Raving Rabbids 2 doesn't let the fact that it's a sequel prevent it from offering an experience that feels every bit as fresh as the original game.
The adventure begins with an invasion. Massive floating submarines (yellow in hue) have descended on the world's cities. Rayman, sitting at home in his comfy recliner, watches the news report in dismay. He soon realizes he has to do something. Burning with a hero's fire, he infiltrates the enemies' base and once more finds himself playing all manner of mini-games.
Plot isn't an ongoing process in Raving Rabbids 2. It's there at the beginning to explain why you'll witness events in places that look very much like the real world--because they are, duh--and that's it. Once the scene is set, you won't witness any unexpected plot twists or dialog or moments of narrative splendor. Appropriately, the developers instead focused on the rabbids and mini-games.
Like before, you'll find three main mini-game variations. The most common ones resemble something you might find in a Mario Party game, only with the added benefit of the zany rabbids. Objectives here include sawing a limb in half (while standing on it, because you're a dolt), unclogging a toilet, throwing spit wads at the teacher, goofing off at work, talking on a cell phone in the theater and so forth. Mostly, they're accomplished by pumping the Wii Remote and Nunchuck up and down, or by steering with the analog stick while the Wii Remote points toward a goal. There are some pretty funny ones and most of them have really clever introductions that you can skip with the 'A' button if you've already seen them. A few of the games aren't particularly fun and don't seem to control well (including two variations on a game where you balance a sandwich on a plate while serving it to a patron), but the bulk of them are polished and enjoyable. That's good, considering the fact that they make up much of the game.
If you played the first Raving Rabbids, odds are good that you recall the on-rails areas where you would explore an area while blasting rabbids with plungers. Those are also back... and enhanced. Remember how the plot set things up so that you know you're in the real world now? Well, the shooting stages are the payoff. As you move through levels, the background is comprised of actual video footage from places like New York and Paris, with the rabbids in the foreground. This could have been gimmicky, but it's not. The little creatures pop out from all over the place in an extremely convincing manner. Stages are quite lengthy, too, easily lasting several minutes and guiding you through a number of interesting places before concluding with a boss battle. Sometimes they drag on a bit too long, but that's okay considering there are only five available.
The third and final mini-game type is rhythm-based. These diversions play mostly like their equivalent in the first Raving Rabbids. That means that much of the time, you'll be using the Wii Remote and Nunchuck device like drumsticks, beating out a rhythm. Before a song, you can pick one of several choices that will determine how difficult your part in the performance will be. Then you start drumming or waving the Wii Remote or Nunchuck around in circles. There are some really nice songs here, including “Smoke on the Water” and “Teenager in Love,” all delivered in high-pitched voices that give them great personality.
Regardless of the game type you choose to play, you can't lose. That's literal, since your goal isn't to survive, but to rack up the highest possible score. If your Wii has an Internet connection, you can then check online leaderboards to see how you rate compared to other gamers throughout the world. Even if your only competition is the game itself, though, you'll find that achieving a gold medal is a nice challenge (particularly in some cases). Practice definitely helps, especially if you want to rank against other players.
Thankfully, accessing each of the mini-games is a breeze. They're divided into 'trips,' which you select from the main menu. You'll play through five of the standard mini-games, then one of the rhythm-based ones, then that trip is concluded and you can move onto the next. Each destination has several options that won't present themselves until you complete them multiple times, so you'll need to try everything at least twice to reveal the full mayhem. Then you'll need to keep going if you want to unlock the various outfits you can equip on Rayman and the rabbids (an affro and polyester go nicely with fur). When you've unlocked a given mini-game by playing through trips, you can then collect your favorites into a custom vacation, or head directly to your favorite one in “Free Play” mode.
Once you've unlocked everything, the game loses some but not all of its appeal. The only thing left to do is improve at the games so you can kick your friends' butts when they visit. Still, that's a satisfying option and could easily keep the disc and your Wii active for a long time. Rayman: Raving Rabbids 2 may not have the variety and complexity of a Mario Party, but it also doesn't have a lot of the downtime. From beginning to end, it's a worthy sequel with polish and personality. Here's hoping the rabbids invade again in the near future.
Staff review by Jason Venter (November 20, 2007)
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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