Get Ready for Hilarious
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.
Fly Me to the Moon
April 20, 2009 – Hitching a ride on Rayman’s namesake, the Raving Rabbids have become a new video game fixture. After using Michel Ancel’s limbless platformer as a stepping stone to mini-game stardom, the Rabbids are now stealing the show entirely with Ubisoft’s latest Wii adventure, Rabbids Go Home.
The first thing you should know about Rabbids Go Home is that it is not a mini-game collection. As a matter of fact, the game perhaps has more in common with the Grand Theft Auto series than it does with previous entries in the Raving Rabbids franchise. A sort of open-world hub, along with a mission-based adventure, brings this series into a completely new realm of Rabbid wackiness.
Ubisoft is promoting Rabbids Go Home as a comedy adventure, and it’s their intention to offer a game that is, above all else, chocked-full of laughs. Considering the plot, we’re willing to take them on their word. As the title implies, the Rabbids long to go home, and using their nonsensical reasoning, they’ve decided the moon will do nicely. Rather than hijack a spaceship or devise some sort of teleportation device, however, the Rabbids plan to use a more practical approach: A giant mountain of trash.
Thus your quest to accumulate “stuff” gets underway, and you’ll control two Rabbids in order to collect various items to add to your moon-bound heap. Throughout the adventure, you’ll be required to control one Rabbid who pushes a shopping cart, and another who rides shotgun, hording anything that is or isn’t nailed down along the way. Movement of your cart-pushing Rabbid is handled with the analog stick on the Nunchuk, while executing the Rabbid’s signature “Bwah!” scream is done with a shake of the Wii Remote.
In Rabbids Go Home, screaming is used both as an attack, as well as to nab specific items. Due to their extreme fear of the Rabbids, humans play your main adversaries throughout the game. A good “Bwah!” can literally scare the pants off people, and you can then add their clothes to the piled pathway toward your new home. In addition to gathering things to add to your “moonheap,” certain items will power up your Rabbids, providing them with new abilities.
With much of the game’s focus on the shopping cart, it’s no surprise to see many of the power-ups geared toward altering its functionality. You’ll come across items that allow your cart to surf on water or zip through environments at super-sonic speed. Power-ups will also be incorporated into some of the game’s platforming activities, and you’ll often have to utilize these items in order to progress the game.
Though the premise of collecting junk for your path to the moon may seem simple enough, navigating the human world will prove to be quite challenging. The humans consider your Rabbids to be a vermin outbreak and will use whatever means possible to dispatch you and your furry brethren. From robots and traps, to hounds who aim to hunt you down, the world is full of obstacles you’ll need to be mindful of.
The missions promise to offer quite a bit of variety for players, including driving, timed events, and even the occasional boss encounter. There’s also an option to play cooperatively with a friend, though for the time being, Ubisoft is keeping quiet on the exact specifics of this aspect of the game.
As for the visuals in Rabbids Go Home, the Rabbids themselves retain the same basic look as before, but the world and overall polish of this particular game exhibit a very noticeable improvement over other titles in the Raving Rabbids series. Though there isn’t a ton of detail in either the character models or environments, the style and visual fidelity make this one of the better-looking games on Wii. All of the buildings and people have a caricaturized quality to them, and it’s a style that seems especially well-suited to the very quirky Rabbids universe.
Ubisoft has achieved this stunning visual quality on Wii with the use of their touted graphics engine, LyN. They liken the tool to what’s used for the production of many of the Pixar animated movies, and Rabbids Go Home definitely comes close to that same caliber of visual presentation – no small feat on a system that is technically dwarfed alongside its other current-gen counterparts.
Though it’s still a ways off and the Rabbids have yet to prove themselves outside of being laughable mascots for the now-fading Rayman franchise, our curiosity is greatly aroused by this latest comedic undertaking by Ubisoft. With close to three years in development, Rabbids Go Home is definitely no slapped-together mini-game compilation, and we very much look forward to seeing how the adventure unfolds. Will the Raving Rabbids ever find a place to call “home,” or are they destined to remain in the cold world of party game hell? Find out when Rabbids Go Home releases later this year.