Rayman Raving Rabbids is a multi-player party game that really shows off the Wii’s impressive technology and unique motion-sensitive controls. This great collection of mini-games is hosted by Rayman so you know you can expect some level of hilarious irreverence.
Rayman Raving Rabbids is not a platform game in the traditional Rayman sense. It contains a single-player mode and even a storyline but they are all tethered to the mini-games. You’ll get plenty of action out of this game to be sure but don’t expect to get much depth out of it as a single-player experience. This game was made for multi-playing.
Rayman and his buddies are enjoying a day out when they hear what sounds like a stampede. It turns out to be a herd of Rabbids, the furry little critters with the zombie stare. Don’t let their cutesy looks fool you, these bunnies are dangerous when they are led by the evil master bunny, Serguei. They capture Rayman and his friends and force Rayman into performing a series of gladiator-style mini-games, to win his bid for freedom and also for their entertainment.
Rayman may be the star, but it’s the Rabbids that steal the show. They are hilariously wicked as they move about in zany groups bumping, rolling, tripping, pushing and executing all kinds of slapstick schtick. The things that these Rabbids do makes no sense, but that’s the fun of it. Like using toilet plungers for weapons. You never know what’s going to happen next. It’s an absurd form of comedy reminiscent of Monty Python. These Rabbids affect different mannerisms and even wear costumes. In one scene, they look as though they wearing little Hitler hairstyles. They have a strange, high-pitched scream that is a lot more entertaining than it is annoying. But keep in mind that these funny little bunnies are still the enemy, and that’s why you get to smack them around.
There are some 70-odd mini-games all of which use the Wii’s motion-sensitive controller. These games include on-rails shooting, racing, rhythm games, sporting-style events such as a hammer throw but with a cow, and a bevy of other funny, strange and inventive mini-games. There’s a whack-a-mole style game where you konk the Rabbids over the head. In a musical game you discern the Rabbid that’s singing off key and slap it in the face to tune it in. You can even pick some of the Rabbids up and throw them back into their group like a bowling ball. In another game, you attempt to close the outhouse doors on the various Rabbids that are taking a dump – complete with all of the inappropriate sound effects. The on-rails shooter is possibly the best of the mini-games and it’s one of the more plentiful with several recurring variations. You use both the controller and the Nunchuck to aim your weapon to shoot plungers at the bunnies. Shake the controller to reload your plungers. These non-lethal projectiles will stick to the Rabbids in various positions rendering them incapacitated. It’s hilarious when you get them in the face. These first-person shooting games take place in various themed levels such as an Old West ghost town and a cemetery complete with similarly-themed Rabbids.
Some games are more original than others, making really good use out of the controllers while others are just kind of tacked on and don’t share the same magic. But just about every game will have some merit when played with friends, if just for the sheer competitiveness than anything else. The single-player mode tends to get bogged down in repetitive variations. Not that the multi-player mode doesn’t but it’s less noticeable when you’re in the competitive spirit with friends. In the multi-player mode you can play some of the games at the same time, while others require that you play them one at a time and compete for the high score. There are also a number of head-to-head challenges that will only accommodate two players at a time. This adds variety to the mix which is important to keep these games from feeling too similar to each other.
This may come as a surprise to you, but the Wii is not going to compete with the Xbox 360 or PS3 in the high-end graphic department. We’ve seen some impressive demos of what the Wii is capable of but it will probably take a good year before most developers start pushing its envelope. It seems that Rayman is running on the Cube’s old graphic engine. This isn’t a great looking game. It’s cute, sharp and colorful but it also has some boxy poly designs. The game also doesn’t support progressive scan. Having said that, the environments are imaginative and the animation is fast and fluid. The personality of the Raving Rabbids more than make up for any shortcomings of the graphics. These bunnies don’t talk but they communicate with a variety of actions and sound effects including yelps, screams, burps and guffaws. The humor is truly insane without being condescendingly cute or so lame that it needs a laugh track like Scooby Doo.
Rayman Raving Rabbids is an excellent beginning for the Wii. The game is almost fully realized although it suffers from some repetition, but that gives it room for improvement. I will patiently be awaiting Rayman Raving Rabbids 2.
Risk life and uh, limb, in Rayman’s new adventure. by Patrick Evans
Classic gaming icons are making their comebacks in the next-gen, but few are doing so in as much style as Ubisoft’s Rayman. Developed primarily as a title for Nintendo’s upcoming Wii console and its innovative interactive controller, Raving Rabbids will put players in unfamiliar places and tell them to “Win the crowd.”
Borrowing the idea from Russell Crowe’s “Gladiator,” Rayman developer Michel Ancel is putting his limbless character in the clutches of these crazed Rabbids. The game begins with the hero in captivity of these rabbits and forced into different trials for entertainment. As Rayman continues to succeed in these trials, he will gain popularity and begin his own little revolution against the Rabbid power structure. Many of these trials will include combat in the arena, aces on animals, dance-offs, or plunger-shooting competitions. That’s right; I said plunger-shooting competitions.
One of the major draws of this title, aside from its unique control scheme, will be the ability to customize Rayman’s environment as he continues the good fight. As he gains popularity, items such as costumes, music tracks, and prison-cell accessories will be unlocked. With these, player’s can adopt hip-hop, punk, pop, or rock styles for their dance competitions and put the rabbids to shame.
The control scheme is as interesting as any other Wii title that we’ve seen. In racing on rhinos, eagles, or sharks, players will have to tilt the controller to control speed and keep their animal on track. Other challenges that involve swinging chained bovine involve holding down the B button and physically swinging the Wii-mote, timing the release for accuracy. And yes, I said bovine, or cows for the younger gamers out there. The aforementioned plunger-shooting competitions will control much like Red Steel, with the controller acting as an aiming reticule.
As development on the Wii version continues, the visuals we are seeing are impressive in more ways than one. While not as powerful as its next-gen competition, the Wii is capable of sporting impressive visuals within limitations. Keeping this in mind, Ancel and crew have amped up the creativity in the game’s visuals instead of focusing on more technical aspects. Raving Rabbids will feature expansive landscapes for exploration. Screens that we saw after E3 showed areas wrought with destruction and chaos at the hands of the evil bunnies, but the three newest shots give us the impression that there is plenty of light at the end of the tunnel and that Rayman will have plenty of open space to explore and battle his captors. After all, if you don’t get out and see the sights of Rayman’s world, the Rabbids win.
Fans of the venerable series will be pleasantly surprised with the scope and innovation of Ubisoft’s new platformer. While it was first conceived for the Nintendo Wii, Rayman fans without a Wii will be able to play ported versions sans the innovative control scheme. Whether on Wii or on a port, players will be able to play four-player multiplayer trials with friends. Unfortunately, there is no announced support for online multiplayer. Look for the opportunity to make insane-killer rabbits look even more foolish when Rayman ships at the Wii launch.