This is no Mario Party…
Rabbits are pretty cute, right? I mean, they’re all fuzzy and quiet and small and…y’know, cute. But Ubisoft’s Wii launch title, called Rayman Raving Rabbids, forever changed many peoples’ views on the rodents. Rather than being cute little pets, could they perhaps be crazed, evil beasts concerned only with world domination? Well, the second outing with the Raving Rabbids on the DS attempts to let you find out.
The plot, if it can really be called such, is simple and laid out before the game even begins. The story is told with sparse dialogue and fun, colorful pictures. Essentially, the Rabbids have left their home-planet and have set their sights on an even greater prize: Planet Earth. Now, it’s up to Rayman not to save the world, but rather to get photographs of the invaders.
What’s weird about the story is that it really has no bearing on the actual game. In fact, Rayman never really comes into the picture at all. Instead, you take control of some unnamed entity (most of the time) or a Rabbid itself (occasionally) as you play through the myriad of mini-games that the title offers. But the whole photography premise of the game never comes into play, except for the fact that there’s a little “film meter”; the meter fills up as you score points in mini-games, and you’ve got to fill up the meters to unlock more games.
See, the entire game is divided up into areas of the world; different continents are marked with plungers (supposedly the universal motif of the Rabbids themselves). Each marked area is apparently one area occupied by the Rabbids; so it’s up to Rayman to travel there and snap some pics that will, uh, somehow…save the world? I’ll get back to you on that one.
Each area is divided up into a number of different mini-games, and this is where Raving Rabbids 2 really starts to get the ball rolling. Each area has six or more games, all of which must be cleared to proceed. For each game, there’s a meter; the more you fill up the meter, the more points you get (by the way, you’ve got to get the maximum number of points on every mini-game to actually fill up the film meter and unlock newer areas. But how do you fill up the meter?, you might ask. Well, that’s when the actual mini-games come in.
The only real reason that these mini-games are any fun is because they’re awfully creative. Sure, they take some mechanics from a few popular games (a very Elite Beat Agents -esque game pops up early on…), but for the most part, they’re clever and original. The variety is huge, the games are unpredictable, and (at first) they’re quite fun.
For example, the first level has you doing a variety of things. You may take control of a mechanical cow (what’s with it with the Rabbids and cows?) and attempt to throw off the Rabbid rider who’s on top. The more you rub the bottom screen, the more the cow jerks around up top, and the more the meter fills up. Another game has you coloring in a sequence of pictures on the bottom — and on the top, a Rabbid with a can of spray paint emulates you coloring as graffiti on a wall.
While they are all simple and relatively quick, the fact remains that they get pretty old pretty quickly. They pretty much all involve tapping or sliding the touch screen to complete objectives (although a few do take advantage of the microphone). Sure, they’re fun and crazy at first, but the more you play, the more you’ll realize that you’re really just progressing through a group of recycled, boring touch screen mechanics.
There is, however, one brand of mini-game that is better than all the rest — although it too will become monotonous all too quickly. Each boss level, if you will (although it’s actually just the last game of each area), is a rhythm based game. The premise: a bunch of crazy Rabbids in a hilarious make believe band (for example: one lunatic is “playing a guitar,” which is in fact a broom). There are a number of speakers on the bottom, and as circles fly over the speakers, you’ve got to tap them. It’s a lot like the popular DS rhythm game Elite Beat Agents, in fact.
However, unlike EBA, this game also becomes boring rather soon. It won’t be long before you realize that the level essentially remains the same throughout the entire game, with little actual variety or change. And, as we all know from experience, anything that remains the same does not stay fun for very long.
Another problem with the game — and a big problem, at that — is the title’s difficulty. Or rather, its lack of difficulty. As I mentioned already, the gameplay mechanic of Raving Rabbids 2 is essentially just a bunch of simple, touch screen mini-games. Even if you don’t understand the game that you’re about to play, it probably won’t affect the outcome — just jab at the touch screen furiously and you’ll probably come out with a full meter. It’s pretty pathetic that you can win a game without even knowing what you’re doing, but unfortunately, that’s the case in Raving Rabbids 2.
A surprisingly well done aspect of this game is, interestingly enough, the visuals. As a handheld, it’s hard for the DS to put up truly spectacular graphics — though it’s been shown that it’s possible by titles like Final Fantasy III and Metroid Prime Hunters. However, from a title that clearly lacks originality that would seem to indicate a lack of real effort by the developers, I would never have expected graphics this nice on the DS. Characters are big and lifelike (if a Rabbid can really be considered lifelike), and the animation in the game runs smoothly. Really, it’s just a pity that the attention to detail with the game’s visuals couldn’t have also been applied to the gameplay mechanic.
There’s also a multiplayer offering, but it’s poorly done. After all, multiplayer tends to work well when there’s a solid single-player mechanic and more human players are added. But without a good core mechanic, as is the case with Raving Rabbids 2, there just doesn’t seem to be much chance for good multiplayer. It’s uninspired and boring, just like the main game.
All told, I definitely wouldn’t recommend Raving Rabbids 2. Yes, it has some nice aspects: the gameplay is fun at first, and the graphics are surprisingly well done. But it’s one of those titles where the more you play, the less fun you have. Additionally, the title really lacks any sort of replay value; it’s monotonous to the point that even if you play through the entire game (a rather short task, I might add), it’s highly unlikely that you’d want to do it again. If you’re looking for a real DS mini-game compilation, perhaps you ought to check out the recently-released Mario Party DS.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
For a title that seems to have been carelessly churned out by developers, the visuals are surprisingly good. 1.9 Control
Rubbing and tapping the DS screen are pretty much all you’ll do. Plus, this game absolutely murders your touch screen. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is fine, but unremarkable. It doesn’t really improve the overall game experience. 1.6
The game is short and easy to breeze through; multiplayer is poorly done; and there’s no real reason to play it again.
2.1 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.