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Rabbids Land (Wii U) artwork

Rabbids Land (Wii U) review

"The game changes up who faces who during each event, which keeps things relatively even and ensures that no single player is always stuck going up against a computer opponent. Still, the whole process is definitely the most fun if you are competing with at least two human friends… even though that means you’ll be passing the gamepad and any other controllers around the room as if they’re participants in a game of musical chairs."

One of the best surprises during the Wii’s launch window was Rayman: Raving Rabbids, a pleasing mini-game collection that introduced gamers to the eponymous creatures from outer space. That title spawned an entire franchise that has kept the critters in gamers’ collective consciousness ever since. It seems only fitting that they should grace the latest Nintendo console with an all-new offering: Rabbids Land.

In some ways, Rabbids Land resembles the original Raving Rabbids title. It’s best described as a mini-game collection, one that offers the most fun when you’re able to play it with your friends. To that end, there’s even a simplistic board game design that ties the mini-games together and lets each victory impact an ongoing competition. On the less positive side, however, there aren’t enough distinct attractions to keep everything fresh for long. The whole experience feels quite limited. You may wonder if the development team at Ubisoft simply threw together whatever odds and ends it could gather ahead of the Wii U launch and called it a day.

That’s not to say that you can’t have any fun with the game. At nearly every turn, Rabbids Land showcases the obnoxious but somehow endearing personality you’d expect from the hare-brained extra-terrestrials. They still randomly scream for no apparent reason and their gibberish utterances haven’t ceased. Nor has their ability to fixate on life’s simple pleasures gone away. In this particular case, they’re determined to enter an amusement park that keeps rejecting them because they’re not tall enough for the rides. When conventional means of entry fail them, the rabbids finally resort to an approach by air. That gets them inside, and before long they’ve begun terrorizing the park and each other. Mostly, it’s as juvenile and amusing as you might hope.

Trophy Race, which serves as the game’s main mode, pits four rabbids against one another. As the name suggests, those creatures will compete for trophies. By default, the goal is to obtain ten trophies and then return to the center of the board, which is fashioned out of a series of circular walkways. Since it’s possible to acquire as many as three trophies after completing a single event, you may wish to double the number of trophies required just to make sure that any human participants have sufficient time to enjoy themselves. Even then, a single game is unlikely to last an especially long time. You won’t find Mario Party-like marathons here.

Though mini-games are unquestionably the main draw, the Trophy Race board also includes bonus spaces that can affect the proceedings in a number of interesting ways. You can land on one and receive a power-up, for instance. One might allow you to cripple a rival player so that he moves only a short distance at a time (which is illustrated by said opponent hobbling around on crutches until the effect goes away). Another gift will let you specify the number that you role, in case you need to land on an important space or just move a long distance. Other spaces might cause your rabbid to lose a trophy or—even worse—to give one to a rival player.

One particularly interesting type of space that you can land on presents you with a trivia question. If you are the only human playing, answering the question correctly allows you to receive two trophies, while a wrong answer means that you get nothing. Computer opponents will have the same opportunity, but you won’t see what question they answer. If you’re playing with friends and you land on such a square, however, you can still earn the two same trophies and your friends earn a trophy apiece if they correctly guess whether or not you choose the correct answer. Most of the questions tend to be quite bizarre and you aren’t likely to know the answer (unless you tend to track the time you spend on the toilet, or other such things), but you’ll usually be able to rule out one or two of the four possible responses if you’re paying close attention.

Although Rabbids Land is clearly designed for as a four-player attraction, the mini-games are intended for only two players at once. Whoever is taking his or her turn on the board holds the Wii U gamepad, while one of the remaining human opponents will be called upon to use a Wii Remote and Nunchuck combo. Essentially, those two players are dueling. In one challenge, you’ll hold the Wii U gamepad like a steering wheel as you ride along tracks behind an out-of-control rollercoaster car. Meanwhile, your rival will play a rhythm game to produce star-shaped plumes of exhaust. You need to weave between those stars and avoid taking too much damage before you reach the finish line. If you survive, the trophies are yours. Otherwise, they go to your opponent. The game changes up who faces who during each event, which keeps things relatively even and ensures that no single player is always stuck going up against a computer opponent. Still, the whole process is definitely the most fun if you are competing with at least two human friends… even though that means you’ll be passing the gamepad and any other controllers around the room as if they’re participants in a game of musical chairs. You’ll want to sit close to your fellow players, but you’ll also want to leave room so that someone can stand up for the mini-games that require more movement.

If you tire of the Trophy Race mode and no friends are available, the Treasure Hunt mode is a nice option because you can practice any mini-games you unlocked while playing the board game. You’ll also find tokens placed throughout the events. Collecting them will allow you to unlock short video clips in the Extras menu. Many of those are promotional clips that must have been used to convince gamers to buy Rabbids Go Home and Rabbids in Time when they were released for Wii. There also are some other clips that are presumably all-new. Some of those brief segments are quite funny, but none of them last very long. At least they serve as a nice incentive to master each of the mini-games.

Although Rayman: Raving Rabbids was one of the best Wii launch titles, the same thing can’t really be said about Rabbids Land and the Wii U. This newest title definitely has some charm, but its lasting appeal is limited. If you’re determined to find some longevity and you have a lot of friends that are willing to play with you, it’s worth considering a purchase at whatever price point sounds appropriate for a few hours of zany fun. Otherwise, you’re probably better off looking for a day pass to this particular amusement park…

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (December 16, 2012)

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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