Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rabbids will rule the world one day

Rayman Raving Rabbids
Game Category: Party Game, Kids
Developer / Distributor: Ubisoft
Release Date: 11 Dec 2006 
Rating: ESRB - Everyone

Introduction
Rayman... that very name brings back lots of fond memories for me. I still remember the day I got my very first Rayman game; that was an excellent platformer style game. Back in 1995, Rayman did not ooze that much charisma as he was only an animated 2D sprite, but his looks and abilities have changed so much over a few short years that I can say Rayman has probably won himself a legion of new fans.

Seeking to catapult Rayman into the limelight once again, it seems the designers at Ubisoft must have had a field day dreaming up this new game. The game whose title is Rayman Raving Rabbids (RRR), features a new co-star. Well, not exactly a single co-star... but a bunch... no, an ARMY of these insanely cute little white bunnies who look like they have been cloned from some futuristic machine. 

Rayman is going to get bullied, swamped, and overwhelmed by the Rabbids' relentless tricks, so come on and help him out. You'll be bowled over by the ridiculous slapstick humor in this party game that features a cast of thousands. Prepare to beat the Rabbids at their own games, and while you're at it, introduce this game to your kids and friends, because a total of 4 can play this fun little gem of a party game.

PS -  And, do note that that the word Rabbid is spelt with a "d" at the end.

Get ready to laugh yourself silly
Game Play 
You get four modes at the main menu of RRR that will matter to you. They are Story mode, Score mode, Family mode, and a fourth one that says Bonus mode.

Story mode - What little background story the game has is actually very simple - Rayman is having a nice picnic on a peaceful sunny day with baby Globoxes when the Rabbids sneak up from below and kidnap the poor darlings. Rayman is then nabbed by a huge hulking beast and thrown into a gladiatorial style arena filled to the brim with rabid Rabbids all chanting for entertainment.

Rayman is then put through the paces over 15 grueling days of imprisonment as he completes a fixed series of mini-games. Each day starts off by presenting you 4 mini-games. You can complete any 3 of these before you get to play the "boss" mini-game that lies beyond a set of huge doors. If you do your math, you will find there are a total of 75 mini-games that you must win here.

Rayman and the babies
Score mode - This is the primary multiplayer mode; you can play against up to 3 friends here. Mini-games are divided into four categories - Bunny Hunt, Sports, Challenges, and Shake your Booty! I'll cover these later.

Family mode - If you don't want to go against each other, then Family mode may be the solution. The only difference from the previous mode is that you play cooperatively here. You can only access the Sports section, and moreover not all of the mini-games are geared up for cooperative play.

Bonus mode - By chalking up points in Score mode, you get to unlock bonus advertorial style videos that are pretty hilarious. You will also find some cool artwork videos used in the production of the game.

Next, let's talk about the categories of mini-games available in RRR.

No rabbids were hurt in the making of RRR
A Bunny Hunt is essentially a rail shooter with lots of adorable cuteness thrown into the fray. These games are in the style of shootouts but instead of guns, you will be using toilet plungers. For the uninitiated, rail shooters take you on a ride down a pre-determined path. Rayman will stop at certain fixed locations along this path. He must then defend himself against a posse of rabbids who seek to take him out with their own plungers. You can shoot five times before you have to move the mouse to any edge of the screen to reload your plunger ammunition.

There are power-ups dressed as crates that give you back health (in the form of hearts shown at the top of the screenshot) or perhaps upgrade your weapon to a multi-plunger shooter. Discerning players will also look out for the portable stereo or megaphone (or some other mystery object) that makes all the rabbids dance crazily for a few moments, allowing you to catch your breath.

There are ten levels of Bunny Hunts for you to choose from in Score mode while Bunny Hunts are featured as "boss" mini-games in the Story mode.

I'm the Lone Ranger
The Sports category is further divided into four sub-categories - Workout, Precision, Get Going!, and Skill.

Workout requires you to tap your keyboard keys like crazy to accomplish an objective. RRR was originally designed for the Wii controller, but on the PC you're going to find that this repetitive key bashing sticks out like a sore thumb. You will either love it or hate it... and at the very most, you should probably consider buying a new keyboard after your kid is done with these type of mini-games.

My favorite mini-game from this sub-category would be "Bunnies are addicted to Carrot Juice". You have to shoot a spray of carrot juice at encroaching Rabbid scaba divers. This mini-game requires you to continually tap your space bar and point with your mouse, which sets it up as a good mini-game for co-op play.

Getting way too close for comfort
Precision requires that you be accurate in these mini-games. Some examples include the "Bunnies can't slide" and the "Bunnies like to stuff themselves" mini-games.

The former involves moving Rayman in a direction with a certain strength on an iced-over pond. Three other bunnies serve to complicate matters, whoever is closest to the bullseye at the center is the winner.

The latter game involves using your mouse as a magic marker and drawing out the shape of an object as instructed by a hungry bunny. If you are pretty precise, the object appears and the bunny gobbles up the object and you score points. Yummy!

  Bunnies like to stuff themselves
Get Going! is a sub-category that features 5 racing tracks. You and a couple of opponents will be riding warthogs as you race around a circuit. Get Going! also features as a "boss" mini-game in the Story mode.

Finally, there's the Skill sub-category. The name of the category says it all. Here is an example, the "Bunnies don't like being shot at" mini-game. The setup is a circus tent and a poor unfortunate Rabbid is strapped down to a rotating disc. You will shoot plungers at the Rabbid's head to score as many points as possible. The mini-game is complicated by the fact that the rotating disc will drift around the screen, plus there are two obstructions that will block your shots as the disc moves near them.

Step right up, step right up!
Last but not least, the Shake your Booty! category. This is a rhythm game that requires you to press both the left and right mouse button at the precise moment. The setup of the dance floor shows two tracks from both the left and right directions. These two tracks meet in the center right next to where Rayman is dancing. Rabbids will move at a fast pace towards two pads next to where Rayman dances. You click your left mouse button if a rabbid is over the left pad, and likewise for the pad on the right side. If you complete a section of music and do well rhythmically, you will be awarded with a bunny on the dance floor behind Rayman.

There are 15 levels of dancing madness to choose from and the songs that you get to play this mini-game with are an incredible selection. I will be talking more about them in the Audio section below. In the meantime, enjoy the screenshot.

Dance dance la Rayman Revolution
Graphics
The graphics is really cool in RRR, from the hilarious movie cutscenes to the in-game models and scenery used to setup each mini-game. Take for example the dance floor in the "Shake your Booty!" mini-games, there are disco lights, and a dancing Rayman accompanied by rabbids who follow his every dance move. The stroboscopic effect of the disco ball plus the thumping music will really makes this a truly excellent experience.

The Bunny Hunts also feature some ingenious level designs. You will get to see a great deal as you are railroaded around here. There are alien rabbids, ninja rabbids, and even red indian rabbids who are all out to get Rayman.

Some of the mini-games are also very creatively designed. They have been set up just so you can play being a dentist, an Olympic hammer throw, a sheep shearer, a skydiver, a mole whacker, a cow milker, and even a bowler hoping to earn that elusive strike of ten Rabbids.

Ugh... such horrid cavities
Audio
RRR features an incredible mix of songs, some of which are really nostalgic for me. There's Misirlou from rip-roaring guitarist Dick Dale (last heard in 1994's Pulp Fiction from director Quentin Tarantino), Good Times from Chic, Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna have Fun, and a Rabbid-ized version of La Bamba.

The next best thing about the audio would be the incredible psychotic wails of pure insanity made by the rabbids. It's so unique a sound that there will probably be another huge following of fans who love their wacky antics. There's not much speech in the game, but you do hear the occasional legible word being uttered.

Can you find out which Rabbid is crying in the choir?
Game Analysis
There's plenty to enjoy in RRR. The mini-games are a huge mix that takes concepts from many different genres - racing, arcade gun shooters, memory games, and more. There just has to be something inside this collection that will appeal to adults, and you can bet that kids will just gush and applaud at the outrageous moves of the Rabbids. If you ask me, you won't get to see Rayman that much while playing the mini-games, it's like the entire game is meant to showcase the zaniness of the Rabbids.

Pros:
  • Variety is the spice of life and this game serves it up in countless small plates bearing pure joy and fun. Just think of it as Rabbid stew - a most delectable dish!
  • You get a room at the end of the first day in Story mode. As you progress day after day, you start to unlock things in your little shabby prison. There are costumes and a music jukebox to boot, and if you want, you could return to playing a game you have played before by getting Rayman to sit himself on a toilet. And if you are patient, your prison will eventually be upgraded into a palatial prison cell fit for a King!
  • There is a wonderful selection of music to rock to.
  • You get lots of sick slapstick humor to really give your funny bone that much needed workout. 
Concentrate, concentrate!
    Cons:
    • Some of the mini-games have a part two or part three to them. Basically, you get to repeat the mini-game but with some extra complexity thrown your way. I guess the developers either ran out of time on their development schedule, or they were out of ideas. I would have prefered a different mini-game altogether.
    • Some of the games requires key bashing. You could try getting a controller instead of subjecting your keyboard to such prolonged torture. 
    • Score mode allows you to play with friends, but you will have to take turns here; there is no split screen mode available. 

    Conclusion
    Michel Ancel, a studio head at Ubisoft Montpellier, is the person responsible for dreaming up the Rabbids. He deserves more than a pat on the back for his contribution to gamers with this bright spark of an idea. In fact, after the development of Rayman Raving Rabbids and due to its overwhelming response, Ubisoft have come up with five more games that have expanded on the Rabbids franchise alone. Poor Rayman, he probably feels like he's left in the lurch.

    Whack that rabbid!
    To wrap up, I must confess that I have been won over by the Rabbids in Rayman Raving Rabbids. I fully respect Ubisoft's mascot and think of Rayman as equals to Mario and Sonic, but sorry... he's the co-star in this game while the true stars are the endearing furry white Rabbids.

    And I predict... Rabbids shall rule the world one day! Just you wait and see.

    Daily PC Game Review Score: 8 / 10
    Review Date: 30 Jun 2011

    1 comments:

    Ron said...

    Your review is excellent - very comprehensive and enjoyable to read.
    I like the mini-games idea, it is really fun.

    Post a Comment