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Rabbids Go Home (DS) artwork

Rabbids Go Home (DS) review


"Everything in Rabbids Go Home comes down to physics and proper use of your finite supply of items. Is there a pit that you can't cross? Put a spring-loaded boxing glove in its place so that when you drop from the edge, you'll go flying off toward the right to another ledge. Is an iron safe dangling in the way and blocking your path? Place some scissors higher along the rope that holds it so that a wandering rabbid can push a bowling ball from an even higher ledge that then will drop down and clamp the scissors shut so that they cut the rope and cause the safe to drop out of the way."



If I were unreasonably in love with brevity and you challenged me to describe Rabbids Go Home for Nintendo DS using just six words, I would gleefully say "Too much for two small screens" before you'd even finished laying down the improbable gauntlet. Then I would probably shout "Booyah!" while pumping my fist in the manner of a true nerd and we could never be friends again. Be thankful that I don't love brevity.

Rabbids Go Home doesn't love brevity, either. Given its platform, the title has a surprising amount of content and features a personality surplus. Like its console big brother, the DS iteration tells the continuing story of the lovable rabbids from Rayman: Raving Rabbids on Wii. The harebrained creatures are playing around in a junkyard one day when they discover that smashing large, circular street lamps and bathing in the resulting electric current rather tickles. The deviants soon begin amusing themselves in that fashion, until one of them looks up in the sky and sees the circular light to end all circular lights. Mistaking the moon for a gigantic street lamp, the rabbids decide that the only reasonable course of action is to construct a pile of junk so high that they can use it to reach the moon.

Faced with the task of bringing an intriguing concept to life on the DS, the clever folks at Ubisoft decided to create a puzzle game. Don't expect a Tetris clone, though. Instead, gamers will find a series of well over 100 grid-based puzzles and numerous mini-game challenges that each play host to a smattering of collectible items. You bring home the loot by placing various items around the map, then setting things into motion and watching the mayhem unfold. Hopefully, everything will go the way that you intended and you'll be able to make your way to the toilet at the stage's conclusion with all of your rubber duckies, bags of cash, coconuts or other trinkets intact.

Everything in Rabbids Go Home comes down to physics and proper use of your finite supply of items. Is there a pit that you can't cross? Put a spring-loaded boxing glove in its place so that when you drop from the edge, you'll go flying off toward the right to another ledge. Is an iron safe dangling in the way and blocking your path? Place some scissors higher along the rope that holds it so that a wandering rabbid can push a bowling ball from an even higher ledge that then will drop down and clamp the scissors shut so that they cut the rope and cause the safe to drop out of the way.

Early stages might be solved using strategies such as the one described above, but you'll quickly find yourself forced to think outside of the box. You generally need to place three or four individual item types throughout the course and you often must account for multiple moving rabbids. If you're not paying attention, you could initiate a chain reaction that destroys a crate that you expected to serve as a roadblock, or you could send a precious bag of money sliding off a ledge and disappearing before you can collect it. Usually, you'll have multiple chain reactions unfolding at once while you hope that none of them interfere with one another in the wrong way. There are countless things that can go wrong within a single stage and they very often will.

Naturally, there will be times when the game irritates you as a result. Unfortunately, a lot of that irritation stems from the fact that the DS hardware can't show enough of a given map at once. You'll frequently find yourself using the d-pad or on-screen arrow prompts to zip around the grid as you make sure that every chain reaction is properly set in motion. There's a mini-map on the top screen that shows an overview of things with dots that sort of hint at what is placed where, but there's often too much going on for the player to easily take it all in at once. At least there's no penalty for repeatedly putting things in motion and watching them unfold. That's precisely what you need to do because sometimes it can take several attempts before you even realize what part of the map needs to be fixed. It's not difficult at all to imagine the whole game working much better as a WiiWare experience.

DS limitations make trouble elsewhere, as well. Rabbids Go Home features some infectious background music, but apparently there's enough to it that stages can't begin without brief trips to load screens. The occasional story clips also are preceded by load screens. Even menu navigation as you resume a saved game can be tedious. Besides those issues, there are infrequent glitches. One time I spent most of an hour on a particularly devious puzzle. Finally, I had it solved. My rabbid had collected every rubber duck and was an on-screen inch away from the toilet when suddenly everything froze. You'd better believe I wasn't happy about having to play through that stage again!

Sometimes I get a similar feeling even when I've advanced to a new stage. In an apparent attempt to provide significant value, the developers have included somewhere around 200 puzzles. They've pack them with enough new objects to keep things reasonably fresh, but ultimately there's only so much you can do to spruce up the core concept. If part of a puzzle revolves around knocking an object into a television so that a rabbid will stop staring at its screen and start moving, I'm hardly likely to care if that object is a basketball in one stage, a bowling ball in another and a rubber duck in yet another. I'm still performing the same basic task.

When the later puzzles aren't starting to feel too reminiscent of the ones that came before them, they're likely throwing more at me than my limited viewing perspective allows me to appreciate. One hazard near the game's halfway point is an alien that will position himself at the center of the stage and eliminate the effectiveness of items you've placed. So you have to place everything, anticipate the reaction of each item , then shepherd your rabbid and cart through the stage while fighting the screen to get it to scroll where you want so that you can tap items and remove green sludge. Throw in teleportation portals and any number of other variables and it all starts to feel just the slightest bit overwhelming.

Despite the disappointing flaws, there's a lot here to like about Rabbids Go Home. If you really fall in love, there's even a robust level builder and the option to upload your custom maps to the Internet for others to experience. In that sense, this is the game that never quits. Puzzle fanatics who are willing to put up with its inherent limitations will likely find that the game represents a tremendous value, while people like me just can't help but wish that we could experience it all on a single screen. If there's ever a WiiWare version announced, I may have to rethink my fist pump abstinence.

Rating: 6/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (January 02, 2010)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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