Joseph Rositano
14 Dec, 2006

Rayman Raving Rabbids Review

Wii Review | Tired arms aplenty in the limbless hero's new outing.
As one of Ubisoft’s launch titles for the Wii, Rayman Raving Rabbids may not have the same exclusivity as Red Steel, but it has been built from the ground up to take advantage of the Wii controller, before then being ported to other consoles. In other words, Wii owners will be getting their hands on the version that the designers originally had in mind during the development period. Starting out life as a platformer, creator and game designer Michel Ancel (of Beyond Good and Evil fame), quickly changed Rayman’s new outing to a party game, leaving many an eyebrow. But does it meet expectations?

The game’s plot is simple enough. Rayman and the baby Globoxes are enjoying a picnic when the eponymous Rabbids pop out of the ground and kidnap them. In order to gain both the respect of the Rabbids and secure his own freedom, Rayman must compete in a series of trials. The trials take place in a colosseum packed full of crazed bunnies, ready to boo and hiss at our hero. It doesn’t take long to figure out that it is they who are the real stars of the game, and that Rayman is just there to link the game to the Rayman franchise.

The trials are broken into three categories: Shake Your Booty, Bunny Hunt and Sport. Shake Your Booty is a series of dance trials featuring famous songs, including (amongst others) Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Dick Dale's Miserlou, and La Bamba. During the songs, the Rabbids will enter the dancefloor in two lines, one from the left and one from the right, and will require you to shake the Nunchuk or the Wii remote to shine a spotlight on them when they wander onto a pad. While it sounds a little dull, it actually has a lot of charm, because it’s all timed to the music and the Rabbids will gulp and scream when highlighted. If you perform well enough for a certain period of time, a Rabbid will join Rayman on the dancefloor, mimicking his moves. Manage to perform well throughout the whole song, and you can expect up to nine Rabbids strutting their stuff beside you.

The old Cowboy vs. Indian Bunny days. How we missed you.

The old Cowboy vs. Indian Bunny days. How we missed you.
Bunny Hunt is a group of FPS-based trials, and is perhaps the most entertaining of all, regardless of the “on rails” gameplay. Typically, pre-determined routes don't usually work in many games nowadays, but the sheer amount of of humour and originality on display here makes this a winner. At one point, you’ll be fighting the average bunny armed with a plunger launcher, only to suddenly have bunnies on pogo sticks jumping towards you, yelling and screaming like ninjas. Splinter Cell fans can look forward to bunnies dressed in Splinter Cell-inspired headgear jumping out of UFOs, and in some of the later trials, you’ll even go up against a few mini-boss robots, each more impressive than the last.

Armed with only a plunger launcher and a metal claw glove (which you may remember as the Lock Jaw costume from Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc), you have the choice of either firing a plunger at the waves of bunnies, or using the claw to grab a nearby bunny and use it as a shield or projectile. Your weapon has unlimited ammo, but must be reloaded after using five rounds by shaking the Nunchuk. Pick-ups are also spread throughout the levels, including one that launches five plungers in a single shot, and one that shoots three single plungers at a time and doesn’t require you to reload your weapon. In an attempt to make sure the FPS trials don’t become repetitive, Ubisoft has also employed a wide range of locations for the shootouts, including a Western-style town, tropical island, caves and even a graveyard.

The sport trials fall under four sub-headings: Workout, Precision, Get Going and Skill. The Workout trials involve, as the names suggests, frenetic swinging of the Wii remote and Nunchuk, and result in tired arms if played for an extended period. Precision is based more on careful aim and memory, whilst the Get Going! trials are racing mini-games. Finally, the Skill trials are a bit like the Precision trials, except they require better accuracy and focus to complete. Rather than give examples of each sub-category, we’ll get right to the main highlights of the mini-games.

Many of the trials require you to shake the Wii remote and Nunchuk up and down, as if running to increase Rayman’s speed. In Bunnies Can’t Play Soccer, this technique is used to charge at a soccer ball, only to then kick the bunny umpire by pressing the A button and aiming him, using the Wii remote, at a particular spot in the goals whilst avoiding the goalie. Another trial sees you using the running motion to move a minecart, so you can launch Super Bunny (a parody of Superman who makes regular appearances) into the air. You literally have to have the speed of Speedy Gonzales to get the cart at a high enough speed to achieve the victory distance to pass the Super Bunny trial. So much so that even we had difficulty (to be honest though, we always have difficulty) and gave up a few times, due to our arms needing a rest. Regardless though, it’s all in good fun and is especially funny when watching friends do it.

There are plenty of other motions to make you feel the burn too. Bunnies Don’t Know What To Do With Cows requires you to swing the Wii remote around your head in order to swing and toss a cow on screen at a great distance. It’s a bit like fighting Bowser in Super Mario 64, in case you needed a better picture. Bunnies are Oversensitive sees you using the Nunchuk like a hammer to make a huge lump appear on a rabbit’s head while aiming with the Wii remote - only, instead of hitting the poor bunny once, you hit it dozens of times over a certain period. It’s very reminiscent of the old Saturday morning cartoons when Bugs Bunny (no pun intended) would hit someone with a hammer and a lump would appear.

Looks like Clark Kent has had a makeover.

Looks like Clark Kent has had a makeover.
Other trials use the Wii remote exclusively. There are a few which require you to tilt a maze and guide a ball to the end of it, while others see you guiding Rayman through rings during a sky-diving minigame. It really is a great introduction to the Wii’s capabilities, and demonstrates just what can be achieved with the wireless remote and a talented development team. However, we do question Rayman’s lasting appeal. While it seems like a very good party game at the moment, will it stand the test of time against future Wii party games, such as Wario Ware: Smooth Moves and the newly announced Mario Party 8? It’s really a tough question to answer, simply because there’s so much humour and weird stuff that’s been added to the mould that we found ourselves laughing at every turn.

Score Mode caters for the multiplayer functions but is a bit hit-and-miss. Although you can play with up to four players, most mini-games only support one person playing at a time, and then after they’ve finished, the next person takes their turn. However, there's a nice number of mini-games that do offer splitscreen or full screen action, so all players can play at the same time. Most notably with the FPS trials, you have the option of playing co-operatively or against each other, by seeing who can obtain the most points.

The fun doesn’t stop there. There’s also a vast amount of unlockable content including challenges in Score Mode, costumes, artwork, soundtracks and the promotional videos that were released on the internet to promote the game such as Bunnies Can’t Milk. To unlock these you’ll have to invest a fair amount of time in Score Mode, replaying all the mini-games to get points.

Sound-wise, Raving Rabbids features some of the most outrageous sound effects we’ve ever heard. Bunnies screaming, pogo sticks, pigs, cows; the list goes on. There’s even the tune to Jingle Bells playing in the background during a few trials. A special mention goes out to the trial where you have to stop bunnies from coming out of the toilet. They sound like they’re relieving themselves by taking a huge… Well, we’ll cut it off right there. Kids could be reading this.

A spa treatment, bathing your eyes in carrot juice.

A spa treatment, bathing your eyes in carrot juice.
The graphics aren’t always inspiring. At times, the mini-games look like they’ve been a little rushed by having rough textures. The colosseum’s bunny crowd isn’t all that great either. As Rayman entered the arena, we noticed several bunnies had their backs turned and were facing us instead due to the obvious recycling of sprites. Generally though, these never impact on the gameplay too much, and most mini-games have smooth, gorgeous graphics.

Overall, Rayman: Raving Rabbids is one of the best games to show off the Wii to your friends and family. It combines both unique ways to use the controller and wacky humour which will leave you in stitches. We're a little concerned about how it will stack up against future party game releases, but for now, it's the only option you have in PAL regions until Wario Ware: Smooth Moves is released sometime next January.
The Score
A great introduction to the Wii’s unique abilities and a party game most people will enjoy. The bunnies are the real stars of the game, and are its main source of humour and interest. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Rayman Raving Rabbids Content

Rayman Raving Rabbids Preview
22 Nov, 2006 We go hands-on with Ubisoft's rabid bunnies.
Rayman: Raving Rabbids Preview
08 Nov, 2006 We take a look at the evil bunnies that will be invading Wii consoles this Christmas.
New Rayman: Raving Rabbids information
23 Aug, 2006 Bunnies continue invading PALGN.
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