The Nintendo Wii is obviously the perfect system for mini-game collections. The controls are new, fun, innovative, and amazingly well-suited for party games. Mini-game collections are great for a system like the Wii, because a game like Rayman: Raving Rabbids both invites everyone to play, and makes creative uses of the Wii’s unique control system. The hardcore gamer may even find some fun here (if you give it half a chance).
Until now, the Rayman series has been made up of action platformers that have earned mixed reactions, but have always been loved by fans of the series. Raving Rabbids is the first effort of the series in the mini-game realm. Fans of the series may be wondering why, and non-fans may be thinking “who cares?” The fact is that Raving Rabbids actually manages to come together as quite an enjoyable game in its own right.
So, how is the game put together? Well, there has to be a way to bring all the mini-games together, or a reason for playing them. For better or for worse, there is a storyline. In Story mode, you will watch as you (Rayman) are kidnapped from your picnic by small white Rabbids, who are basically… rabbits on drugs. The rest of the mode is you trying to escape, over a period of 15 days. Each day, you’ll have to pass 4 mini-games and a boss stage (a longer, harder mini-game) to get to the next day. Each mini-game will include unlockables, such as songs you can listen to in your jail cell, or new outfits you can wear. Once you play and beat a mini-game, it will be unlocked for you to play it in score mode, with friends or by yourself.
The big issue comes down to how all of these mini-games play. The answer is mixed. There are a number of games here that are a blast. The controls work, the concept is unique, and you’ll simply be having fun. However, these make up a relatively small percentage of the roughly 70-75 mini-games present. Many of them are simply new variations of the same games, perhaps with the difficulty vamped up. Still, you’ll have your share of fun. The controls in the game will have you making a fool of yourself in a number of ways. You’ll pump the remotes up and down to run, you’ll swing the remote around like a lasso and throw cows, you’ll trace a line accurately in order to eat faster (nobody claimed the games make any sense), and you’ll point and shoot plungers at evil bunnies. The highlight of the gameplay is the dance/rhythm mini-game. In this game, Rabbids will cross a center circle in rhythm, coming from the left or the right. It’s your job to drum the remote or nunchuck in rhythm, respectively. This game is extremely fun and will keep you hoping that it’s the next game (until the 300th time you play it).
There is also a fair share of games that are simply frustrating. The controls are not always right on, and some just do not feel like they were tweaked correctly. There were numerous times in our playtime in which we found ourselves pushing a button harder and harder, due to a non-responsive action. Sometimes, however, the same action seemed to work. On certain games, you can’t escape a feeling of inconsistency. My only other complaint is the lack of real multiplayer fun. Sure, there is a good bit of multiplayer, but only in a few games is more than one human player simultaneously playing the same game. Most of them are turn-based, which is still fun, but we would have loved to see much more simultaneous multiplayer action. These are relatively small complaints compared to the fun that can be had in this game, but it still holds it back just a bit.
The presentation of this game is really what brings it together… in excellent fashion. From the selection menus to the in-game environments, Rayman Raving Rabbids is colorful, creative, and bright. The art style is inviting, and you will find yourself drawn into the otherwise simple storyline. The sound adds to the experience as well. It’s nothing special, but it is spot on and wonderfully cartoony.
If you are a fan of mini-games, then Rayman Raving Rabbids is easy to recommend. Though some games are repeated in different forms, and some controls problems are present, there is certainly plenty of fun to be had. The creative style makes for a fun, pleasant setting, and if you are looking for some shallow and engaging fun to pass the time, then go pick this one up.