Why don't they just go home? That's their home! Are they too good for their home?
For gamers not familiar with the Rabbids line of games, Ubisoft decided to take its beloved Rayman franchise in a new direction at the launch of the Wii. Launch title, Rayman: Raving Rabbids, featured our beloved limbless hero defeating a series of challenges brought to the table by a large group of crazy creatures. In this game, the goofiness and insanity coupled with the pleasures of slapstick humor made for a quirky group of mini games that held up mainly because it was one of the first titles to utilize the Wii Remote in a variety of different ways. Along the way, we’ve seen more Rayman titles on the Wii featuring the menacing Rabbids (all of which have utilized the most recent Wii peripherals) but until now have not seen a standalone title featuring the Rabbids themselves as the main point of emphasis.
Rabbids Go Home: A Comedy Adventure is Ubisoft’s Beyond Good and Evil team’s rendition of what that adventure would look lie. Featuring the quirky Rabbids as the main characters, players will again find a sense of endearment by the naivety and reckless abandon that these creatures encompass as they wreak havoc on human civilization in their attempt to “go home”. If you’re expecting another mini game compilation, Ubisoft has kicked it up a notch this time around…
Rabbids Strike Gold?
The game is unabashedly crude in its humor and starts by “checking your hardware,” (making you shake the Nunchuk and then Wii Remote to see if both are functioning ok). Once you shake the Wii Remote, however, it doesn’t pass the test because “something is inside”. By checking the internal camera, you can see that there is a Rabbid inside your Wii Remote and you can communicate with it by all of the normal Wii motion controls as well as buttons. As you do so, the Rabbid gets thrown around the Wii Remote and players are given the typical enjoyment of harming these quirky little creatures (this portion of the game is just another excuse for pointlessly delightful Rabbid destruction).
The inside of the Wii Remote also acts as the pause screen. Once here, you can actually manipulate the Rabbid in various different ways to your liking. This includes customizing his features, color scheme, stamping tattoos, accessorizing, and using tools and to manipulate his body (a vice to crush his head, an air pump to inflate or deflate his body parts, and many more destructive tools). These customization options also serve as the game’s unlockables as there are 120 different tattoos, 22 different accessories, and 5 different tools to collect. Finally, there are also three mini games that can be unlocked that are a nice break from the action.
As the game begins, the story is very simplistic. The Rabbids wish to return to their perceived home (the moon) by gathering enough random items around Earth and stacking them up to create a bridge to the moon. This is the basic premise behind the game and the ensuing Katamari-esque collection quest to amass piles of junk begins by controlling two Rabbids on a shopping cart. Controls are very simple, with movement being controlled by the Joy Stick and A to accelerate. Along the way there are various obstacles to avoid as well as pesky items that run away from your collectors. The goal is to amass a certain number of items on each level in order to create a larger pile (which in turn will allow you to reach new levels).
As you progress through the adventure, you’ll also be given more gameplay mechanisms throughout. For instance, early on you’re given the ability to shout out a war cry that hits anything within the vicinity (knocking off humans’ clothing or stunning dogs). Next you can use the various water jugs throughout levels to fire them at normally untouchable objects. Still later you’ll be given the ability to jump up to three times at certain areas making for a more platforming oriented form of gameplay. Though gameplay seems fairly repetitive at first, the introduction to new control elements helps to keep the game fairly fresh.
Further into the game, players will experience entirely different forms of gameplay aside from the typical pushing of the shopping cart. For instance, the Rabbids are forced to ride a rocket at one point in the game and at another time will ride an inner tube (frantically moving about trying to dodge the obstacles at hand). Though these parts were refreshing variations, they were far too short for my own tastes and the collection portion encompassed the majority of the gameplay.
The “world hub”, so to speak, is the local city where you can explore and gather even more items between each level and search for the new areas ripe with objects to harvest. In a typical fashion, the game progresses according to the amount of items you amass; therefore, new levels are unlocked once you acquire enough pieces of junk. The only problem with this progression is that the loading sequence before each level is the same each time with the Rabbids riding down a sewer to their destination. At first, the sequence is great but after you’ve seen it 10 times, it’s a bit wearing (I guess this is really just a minor personal complaint).
Finally, fans of the 2-player co-op from Super Mario Galaxy will be happy to learn that a nearly exact replica of the mechanic is available within this game. For young or inexperienced gamers who might struggle with the game at times, parents, siblings, or veterans can assist them throughout the adventure by shooting Rabbids from the Wii Remote at unsuspecting baddies and collecting extra items. My only quip, however, is that it makes the adventure too easy (as if it wasn’t on the light difficulty side of things already) but on the other hand, can see how it might be useful for preventing needless backtracking to levels in case you don’t collect a perfect score (401 items accounting for 1000 points).
All in all, the gameplay is quite solid but probably the best thing going for the game is its strong presentation. Knowing its role as a silly title that doesn’t take itself seriously, the quirky, impressive renditions of the city, people, Rabbids, and the types of things you’ll do along the way really build upon the lighthearted approach taken in previous Rabbids titles. Match that with a surprisingly strong but equally quirky soundtrack and you’ve got yourselves a perfect fit for the Wii, a title that accepts the console’s hardware limitations and instead focuses on creating its own presentational strengths through strong attention to detail (see Muramasa: The Demon Blade).
Other nice additions to the game include some strong extra features that help to build on the game’s overall experience. For one, gamers can take a snap shot of the screen at any time within the game (just like in Super Smash Bros.) in case they wish to keep record of something bizarre (like many had done in the aforementioned fighter). Finally, there is a Rabbids Go Home Channel available with the game that is yet another perverted parody played by the Rabbids, very similar to the Wii’s own Mii Contest Channel. Here gamers can share their own created Rabbids with the rest of the gaming community that owns the game and can also participate in activities such as voting on their favorites and/or downloading them to their own game.
One of the best reliefs I experienced regarding Rabbids Go Home was the fact that the game had a bold sense of direction much like the original title featuring these zany creatures. Nixing the typical rehash of mini-game collections that we’ve experienced in all of the Rabbids sequels, this game took on an entirely different role in terms of pushing itself into a fully fledged adventure title. Completely over the top in all facets of the game, this title’s endearing presentation matched by a solid amount of gameplay leads to a very polished experience on the Wii overall.