The Price Of Admission
If glancing at Rabbids Land gives you a serious case of déjà vu, don’t worry, because every gamer who picked up a Wii when it was first released back in 2006 is likely getting the same feeling. Like the pioneer of the series, Rabbids Land is a launch title for Nintendo’s newest system, offering an alternative minigame experience to Nintendo’s first-party selection using one of Ubisoft’s most successful franchises. Of course, since those raving Rabbids have become icons of their own caliber, the series’ protagonist Rayman is nowhere to be found. Instead we have the maniacal yet somehow lovable Rabbids succeeding at doing what they do best—causing trouble.
This time around, their outrage stems from being kicked off of amusement park rides for not meeting the height requirements. Calling for air support, an off-center Rabbid flies a spaceship onto the scene, crashing it down just outside the front gates and exposing the playing field.
The best way to describe the format for this virtual board game is a combination of Mario Party and Trivial Pursuit. There are three circular tiers of game spaces to traverse, with the objective to collect trophies and return to the center space after reaching a certain threshold.
Every space has some form of activity to partake in. The Minigame space pits you against one other player in a quick showdown using the various control inputs of both the GamePad and the Wii Remote. The backdrop for each game is filled with the Rabbids’ mildly crude yet humorous behavior. Peeing on a totem pole is a prime example of this. The minigames show off the Wii U’s much-touted asymmetric gameplay, with one player using the GamePad and its screen, while the other player has the full television screen for their Wii Remote gestures. Motion controls, gyroscopes, the touchscreen, and the microphone are all utilized, though none of the games are exemplary in design. While not a chore to work through, they probably won’t rank on any minigame aficionado’s favorites list.
Winning a minigame awards you with three trophies. You can also snag two trophies with your expertise of obscure human anatomy on Quiz spaces, correctly answering question about, say, how many different scents the nose can distinguish, or how many cells in the human body die every day.
Jackpot spaces have you spin the wheel of luck in hopes of gaining free trophies, but losing some is also a possibility. Bad spaces also relinquish trophies. Event spaces will give a random boon or bane to the game board or players, usually involving the gain or loss of trophies. Spin Again spaces allow you to, well, spin again. And finally, there are Present spaces, which gift you with an item that offers a mild upgrade such as allowing you to reroll the die or stealing a trophy from the leading player. What’s nice about the presents is that only the player holding the GamePad can see what the item is, keeping that strategy from leaking to the others watching the television.
The match can be played with up to four other people, with the GamePad being passed along after a turn is finished. You can solo against three computer-controlled Rabbids, who offer a moderate challenge, but there is no difficulty level to adjust. Of course, Rabbids Land is best played with a group of four, but, unfortunately, you’ll never engage in a group battle royal, as every minigame is a one-on-one affair. Also, there is only a single board to play on, and while it gets the job done, the lack of variety causes it to become stale after a dozen or so matches.
Playing a minigame for the first time unlocks it for play in the Free Play and Treasure Hunt modes. Free Play allows you to replay the ones you like the most or just need improvement in. Treasure Hunt is basically the same as Free Play, except each game has three coins to collect, which are used to unlock wacky Rabbids videos in the game’s Extra Section. Rabbids Land also uses Ubisoft digital network called Uplay, which has a handful of achievements that award you with units used to unlock special bonuses like an exclusive Rabbids color skin or extra videos and music.
The in-game music is forgettable, but it does fit the setting and zany characters. The sound effects fare much better, with original noises for every type of destructive shenanigans those Rabbids get into, as well as their signature cry, “DAAAAAAAAGH!” filling the airwaves when they get even the slightest bit flustered.
The visuals are definitely a step up from any past games in the series. The vibrant colors are lively and add energy to the setting, both on an HDTV and the GamePad. But I was most impressed at how the Rabbids—who are nothing more than pure white characters with two bulging eyes—could look so much nicer with the Wii U’s upgraded HD graphics. All the blooper reel cinematics are equally impressive, though some cutscenes that play over loading screens are frequently choppy. Rabbids Land may not push the boundaries of the Wii U’s graphical power, but it does more than it needs to make the game look polished.
So let’s sum up my criticisms. The minigames are all 1-vs-1. There’s only one game board. The games themselves are only moderately fun. There’s no groundbreaking use of the Wii U’s new functionality. The single-player matches only use the GamePad (there’s no Wii Remote option for playing minigames). You’ll unlock all the extras very quickly, and they’re nothing more than quick skits of Rabbids doing silly things. Oh, and there’s no online multiplayer either. The game you’re left with is fun, yes, but all of these issues to me seem like Ubisoft either didn’t have the time, or didn’t have the care to implement them properly.
Rabbids Land isn’t the game that all your friends are going to be dying to come over and play. It’s rather a casual game for a group of people who are just sitting around looking to kill about thirty minutes to an hour. I would love to see some free DLC for this game, because the fifty-dollar asking price is a little steep for the modest offering. Overall though, it’s fun to play, addictive, and certainly worth adding to the collection of those Rabbid fans out there.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.2 Graphics
It doesn’t push the limits of the Wii U hardware, but it’s the best looking Rabbids game yet. 3.7 Control
Both the GamePad and Wii Remote controls are smooth, but there’s nothing innovative in Rabbids Land. 3.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects are as quirky and priceless as ever. The music is okay, but nothing more. 3.0 Play Value
There really isn’t a whole lot of content, just one board to play and a few videos to unlock. 3.6 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|