|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montpellier||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Q4 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
July 20, 2009 - Rabbids Go Home takes the series in an unexpected route. Perhaps it's not even fair to mention it as part of a series, as the Rabbids' first appearance was in the mini-game-based titles, Rayman Raving Rabbids. Even though they became famous with those party titles, the game won't focus on mini-games this time around. Instead, it will be a fully fledged adventure that won't even have Rayman in it. Just so you know what to expect, think of this game as an interactive cartoon packed-full of humor.
It's no surprise that Rabbids Go Home is being developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and their lead designer Michel Ancel, who was also behind the making of Beyond Good & Evil, the Rayman series, and the original Rayman Raving Rabbids. This genius team seems to have given the game everything it needs to become a successful adventure/platformer for the Wii.
During E3, I made my way to the Ubisoft booth with the firm plan to check out both Assassin's Creed II and Rabbids Go Home, and luckily, Ubisoft was able to make this happen and I even got to experience first-hand what it's like to be a Rabbid desperate to get back home. The main principle of the game is to help the Rabbids collect as much trash as possible in order to build a tower high enough to reach the moon, their "home, sweet home" (or so they think). Gameplay involves a pair of Rabbids, one pushing a shopping cart and the other one racking up items left and right until the cart is full. Then it's time to unload and send the stuff on its way to the massive and ever-increasing pile of junk.
But, before commencing the actual game, things start off with what seems to be the interior of a Wii Remote. One of the Rabbids is inside, and your actions with the actual Wii Remote correspond with what happens on-screen. You can push buttons and shake the controller to rattle him around, make him fall and bounce around, etc. There's also a menu where you can select different accessories to customize the bunny (such as a Jell-o hat) and tools to mess with him and abuse him to your liking - squash him, pump up his eyeball, etc. This menu will be expanded as you advanced through the game's main campaign and collect new items.
Although part of the gameplay in the story mode is platforming-oriented, there's also a bunch of action in the style of games such as Ratchet & Clank. The stages are somewhat open-ended and allow you to go where you please within some reasonable limits. Controlling the Rabbids is as easy as 1-2-3. The Nunchuk's analog stick will move the caddy, and shaking the Wii Remote makes them "Bwaaaahaa!!!" as loud as one would expect from these wacky creatures. This allows you to attack incoming enemies such as rabid dogs or the masked forces and stun them. The controls feel a lot like a skating or racing game, and though it's not overly fast-paced, there's definitely a nice flow.
The game includes 40 different levels and about ten hours of comical gameplay. We tried out a couple of the levels, one taking place in the supermarket and another one at the hospital. The stages are filled with objects, obstacles, and even ramps, switches, and many other things. Though there's a relative freedom in the way you move around the levels, players will want to focus on progressing through the game and collecting as much trash as possible. Oftentimes there will be special objects like jet-skis and plane reactors that you can attach to your vehicle in order to make it jump, fly, glide, float in the water, etc. These will help you reach new areas and advance further and faster.
The developers are also planning to include a co-op mode to be played at certain times during the game called "The Cannonball." The second player will be able to shoot at the enemies, slow them down, and help you access hard-to-reach areas. It's not exactly ideal for those who enjoy simultaneous gameplay, but it's a good way to have both parents and kids involved in the game at the same time without worrying too much about their skill level.
The game's presentation is simply great. It's not overly detailed, but it has all the ingredients to make it funny and engaging. Those who are into cartoons will be able to appreciate its good sense of humor. The characters are comical, and the situations are even more, especially when a "Bwaah!" is just enough to bring somebody's pants down. In between levels, the game also includes some hilarious animated cutscenes in 2D format.
Before I saw it, I was wondering how much effort they would put into this title, considering the Rayman Raving Rabbids series suffers a little bit from the "rehash" syndrome, but I'm happy to say the game looks and feels fresh. It will launch sometime before the end of the year, so we'll have to wait and find out the final thoughts on this title once it comes out.
CCC Site Director