The AR Stands for Augmented Rabbid-ity
Minigame compilations on the Kinect are far too common. From Carnival Games to Kinect Adventures and everything in between, Kinect owners have been overwhelmed with the quantity of titles in this genre. With this unfortunate fact in mind, I was cautiously optimistic about Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking. Though the last few outings on the Wii and DS weren’t exactly the most novel, the series did breathe new life into the minigame genre when it first came onto the scene. Fortunately, the Rabbids have done it again on the Xbox 360. Alive & Kicking uses the Kinect in ways that make this entry feel unique among its peers, while making minigames playable again.
The premise of the game doesn’t matter a whole lot, but here it is anyway: Rabbids have invaded your domestic living space, and they make crappy roommates. The majority of the game is played in augmented reality. Your play space appears on the screen, and the Rabbids spy on you, pop through the floor, and do any number of awful things to you. And, of course, you fight back by playing plenty of minigames.
Alive & Kicking still retains all of the goofy charm of the Rabbids’ Wii days, and you can expect plenty of over-the-top animations and ridiculous minigame premises. In fact, it almost feels like an entry from the WarioWare series with the insane variety in its offerings. In addition to the plethora of AR games, there are also games with tasks that range from deflating an inflatable horse to saving San Francisco from a giant Rabbid while in the shoes (or perhaps “wetsuit” is a better term) of a jet-pack-equipped scuba diver. The breadth and creativity of the various activities definitely gives this game some unique appeal, and even if you’ve never played a Rabbids game before, Alive & Kicking lets you jump right in with very little hassle.
Fortunately, the experience is bolstered by some great uses of the Kinect. One of the AR games tasks you with literally dancing behind the Rabbids’ backs. The more you move while their backs are turned, the more points you get. However, when the Rabbids turn around, you’d better be out of sight. If the Kinect even sees one of your feet, you’ll be found out and lose all those precious points you just earned.
Not every game uses the AR, and those that rely solely on gesture-based control work well also. Kinect owners have become rightly concerned about control in Kinect’s third-party library, but the folks at Ubisoft have done their homework and figured out how to use the Kinect Peripheral in all the right ways. Even while playing the game’s massive multiplayer offerings, control won’t falter. The only time I noticed a hiccup is when players left the game’s recommended play space (which is admittedly narrow). I didn’t get the chance to try out the 4-6 player modes, but I don’t quite see how that many people would fit into the tiny little play space the game affords you. Though you can leave the play space, the game’s accuracy level drops precipitously when you leave the recommended rectangle. However, I can’t really knock Alive & Kicking too much for this, as Kinect owners are already used to only being able to play with a maximum of one other person.
In addition to all the insane minigame content, Raving Rabbids has a bonus virtual pet mode where you can interact with (and abuse) your own little Rabbid. As you play through the game, you can earn in-game currency, unlocking toys, costumes, and other interactive items you can use with your Rabbid. Sure, this mode isn’t as deep as something like Kinectimals, but it is a nice add-on, and younger players will love playing with and interacting with a little Rabbid. This mode also supports two people, so if you want to take turns putting the Rabbid in wacky costumes or playing “kick the Rabbid,” you can.
Technically speaking, Alive & Kicking is a sound title. Visuals are nicely detailed, and the AR effects definitely have that “magical” feel. Watching Rabbids pop up outside your window or cut through the floor is an experience that can’t be found anywhere else, and Alive & Kicking pulls off its many AR tricks masterfully. Sound in the game is satisfactory, with enough inoffensive tunes and sound effects to show that some effort went into the game, but not enough to be overbearing. Alive & Kicking is intended to be a party game, and a pumped-up soundtrack would probably just get in the way of what will probably be some interesting conversations.
It’s easy to dismiss Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking as just another Kinect minigame compilation. However, even though Kinect owners may be tired of the minigame grind, Alive & Kicking feels fresh enough to warrant your attention. It may not be incredibly deep or meaningful, but it’s incredibly fun, and its plethora of AR content is a new take on Kinect-based minigames. This fact helps separate it from the glut of content that is already out there for the Kinect and even the Wii. If you get one Kinect game this holiday season, it should probably be Dance Central 2. But if you are shopping for another Kinect game that is fun at parties with adults or for small children, I would strongly consider Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.3 Graphics
AR visuals are seamless and animation quality is top-notch. 4.0 Control
Kinect control works perfectly, as long as you stay in the recommended play area (which is smaller than the standard Kinect play area). 4.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Soundtrack and effects are minimal, which is perfect for a game intended for parties and large groups. 4.0 Play Value
There are plenty of games to explore, and the virtual pet mode gives players plenty of reason to return. 4.1 Overall Rating – Great
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