Rayman Raving Rabbids Review
Written : Thursday, November 01, 2007
By: Alan Pettit (GT: The Pants Party)
Considered to be the 4th insallment of the Rayman franchise from Developer Ubisoft (responsible for huge franchises like Tom Clancy and Prince of Persia), the association of the title character is really where the similarities stop. Whereas the previous games were platformers similar to Super Mario 64, this game has taken on a more Mario Party feel. Basically created to utilize the unique controller functions of the Nintendo Wii, Raving Rabbids loses some functionality on its port to the 360, but certainly does not lose any of its charm. To make up for this, the Xbox Live Vision camera can be used on a good portion of the mini-games (though not all of them). However, the functionality is truly lacking, and you'll most likely feel even sillier than the fools prancing around their living rooms with Wii-motes, while most likely failing because the camera failed to recognize your movement. Luckily, you can use a normal controller to play out the games and in most cases it would be wise to do so.
If you've ever played Mario Party, you'll feel right at home playing this game. Using a combination of thumbstick swirls, trigger pulls and button mashes, you battle your way through various mini-games to beat high scores and race times. It's very boring by yourself, and even though you'd be doing exactly the same thing, games like this are always more fun in a crowd. People choosing sides, players overacting the controls and overall just enjoying themselves makes this a very good party game. The only problem is the lack of a multi-player mode with any length to it. The only option offered for multi-player is to choose each mini-game one by one to play. Better get out the pen and paper to keep score if you're having a tournament of any kind.
The single player story mode begins during a picnic one day, Rayman's friends the Globoxes are kidnapped by a race of insane, moronic creatures that resemble normal bunnies called Rabbids. He is then forced into an arena to compete in a number of mini-games, and upon completion of a day's mini-games, he is rewarded with a plunger. I'm sure you're thinking, "that sounds pretty stupid" and my friend, you'd be right. But, this is precisely what gives the game its charm. The rabbids are one of the craziest creations to date, and their antics are what truly makes the game enjoyable. While the mini-games themselves are all very basic, and for the most part we've seen them before, the rabbids once again make them unique. We've all played a bowling mini-game, but when do you remember the pins being a bunch of insane rabbits? Definitely played a trace-the-lines game, but once you're done did food materialize and a hungry rabbid slam his face into it? Didn't think so. As I mentioned before, the only thing that really lacks in the game is the function of the Wii-mote system the game was truly designed for. If you've played both, there's definitely something more satisfying about swinging your arm in a circle, then thrusting it forward to send that cow flying, rather than simply swirling a thumbstick and pressing a button... no matter how silly it may look.
That's right, it's a dance-off.
The graphics are amped up on the 360, though by no means are they earth-shattering. The overall cartoony look and feel works very well for the atmosphere of the game. The game is clearly more about the story and gameplay, so you can tell the graphics took a backseat to the development of the rest of the game, but they really do hold their own. Smooth animations and enjoyable cutscenes make the experience very solid, but by no means does it turn heads.
The sound is also a bit crisper, though again, not a big deal until you play the dancing mini-games that have actual songs to follow along to DDR-style, where it definitely sounds better. The sound effects are text book; a plunger sounds like a plunger and a rocket sounds like a rocket. The rabbids sound good, but since all they do is scream unintelligible words, it would be hard to tell if what they were saying didn't sound the way it should or not. Much like the graphics, they aren't the focus of the game by any means, but they went just far enough to make them solid without spending too much time on them.
The achievements are easily a love/hate relationship. To get the full 1K on this you have to perfect every single mini-game, which is ludicrous. As of this writing (September 2007), this has yet to be done by anyone, and I really don't see it happening anytime soon. Many people have been complaining that they can't even pass some of the games, let alone get the best score possible on them. Not only that, they added in an achievement that forces you to buy the Xbox Live Vision Camera and use it during a mini-game. Microsoft had condoned achievements with peripherals, but have since changed their stance and do not allow them. There's an easy 450 to be gained from the storymode, but after that it's a fight to the finish.
All in all, if you've got a few friends and you're bored, taking turns attempting to perfect a mini-game could provide a few nights of entertainment, but the lack of Xbox Live play hinders the game's shelf-life. Also lacking is the option to even view leaderboards through Xbox Live, instead receiving a code after each game that you would have to copy down and input to a website that tracks the leaderboard, which is extremely tedious and annoying. By your lonesome at least the rabbids' antics will cheer you up, but after a while the game loses its charm and feels very repetitive. Once through the storymode is more than enough, so the option to simply attempt a single mini-game is appreciated, but even then it will probably only see your disc-tray when you need a laugh or have company, unless you're working toward the 100% completion.
The sounds are all spot on, but they don't go the extra mile at all. Very solid, but nothing great.
Probably the only way it feels superior to its Wii counterpart is the graphics. Not amazing since the game is more about the gameplay than the looks, but they do the job well.
Since it is primarily a family party game, for the most part it is extremely simple. Each game is explained before it starts (no matter how many times you've done it), so you know exactly what to do when it's go-time.
Taking a very unique spin on an old genre that has been dominated by Mario Party for years, the game has most likely found itself a franchise character in the rabbid. They could almost just drop Rayman and have the rabbids steal a new major character from other Nintendo games every installment, add new mini-games and it would probably sell pretty well.
Perfecting every mini-game would take a lifetime, and the requirement to buy a Vision Cam makes these achievements very frustrating. A decent chunk can be gained through the story-mode, which is very easy, but after that it's extremely difficult.
An extremely entertaining game... for a little while. Feeling somewhat forced on the 360 without the functions of the Wii-mote, what fun there is to be had does not last long enough. The antics of the rabbids are actually extremely funny, but once again, after a while you've seen them a number of times and they start to lose their charm.