After starring in a set of platforming adventures, Rayman, everyone’s favourite limbless protagonist, branched out into the party game genre with Rayman Raving Rabbids. Originally released for both the Wii and Game Boy Advance, the zany mini-game collection set itself apart from its peers through humour and creativity. The quirky and incredibly unintelligent rabbids were responsible for both of those major positives, as their unique personality types lent themselves well to the genre.
Thanks to the rabbits from outer space, we gamers were able to get together with our friends to play through a well-made and polished party experience that had nothing to do with Mario and his friends. When you consider the fact that the Mushroom Kingdom’s Italian protector has ruled the interactive party world since the Nintendo 64 era with little competition, you’ll note just how impressive Ubisoft’s success was. In fact, for most of the Wii’s lifecycle, the Raving Rabbids took over the aforementioned crown, thanks to different releases.
Now that the gaming community is in the midst of yet another Nintendo console launch period, it’s only fitting that the brain-dead bunnies are ready to party. They’re returned with yet another board game inspired mini-game collection, which will certainly pique the interest of their fans, as well as those who are in the mood for a Wii U title to play with their friends. However, the unfortunate fact is that this particular release, which is branded as Rabbids Land, is not a sparkling gem like its 2006 predecessor was. Instead, it’s more akin to a brown rabbit turd.
Although the titular characters remain in comedic form, their brand new experience is dull and bland as opposed to entertaining. On top of that, there’s a lack of variety to be found within what is an over-priced game. As such, it will only appeal to those who absolutely love the series’ humour. It’s too bad, because there was a lot of potential here, but the end result is more of a forgettable B-side than a worthy purchase.
After inserting Rabbids Land into their Wii U consoles and telling the disc to run, gamers will be greeted by a bright, colourful and funny cutscene starring the titular dopes. That isn’t a taste of what’s to come, however. Instead of unforgettable mini-games and hours or replay value, folks will find a rather routine board game mode. It’s not the only option available, but it happens to be the core game type. The other two, which focus only on mini-games and force players to compete against each other or attempt to find collectible coins, both rely on the former scenario. That’s because, in order to unlock the noted mini-games, one must play them in Trophy Hunt, the aforementioned board game mode.
Like its title suggests, Trophy Hunt is all about amassing a certain amount of golden awards. As a result, it pits four colour-coded characters against each other on a circular board with three levels. From the middle out, there’s the jackpot circle, which either gives or takes away trophies, the first tier and its varied squares, and the large outer tier. Both of the main levels are similar in design, sharing the same spot types. It’s really rather basic stuff, and the weird thing is that there’s only the one board. Why? I don’t know. The resulting repetition is a major downside, as is the slow pace at which rounds are played.
In order to easily understand what the Trophy Hunt mode is like, think of Mario Party. The gameplay is quite similar to that series, although it’s not nearly as good. Players pick a coloured bunny, and are then given their turn number. After that, the game begins, with each character rolling a digital die to determine how much it can move. The similarities don’t stop there, however, as each space corresponds to something different. There are mini-game spaces, which pit two players against each other, quick game spaces, quiz spots and gift spaces that offer helpful items and trophy stealing options. Understandably, it’s the mini-game and quiz spots that regularly offer trophies as victory prizes, although both options are more challenging than they should be for this family-friendly genre.
The above-mentioned quizzes utilize a simple multiple-choice system, but their questions are more studious than most would expect. However, it’s not a mental challenge issue that dogged the mini-games I got to try. Instead, it was their challenging artificial intelligence and mediocre controls. Some worked as planned, though others were more frustrating than fair, presenting challenging mechanics that favoured luck more than skill. It’s worth noting that I didn’t get a chance to play every one of the games because the competitive board scenario kept offering the same ones, wherein I’d have to draw shapes, roll three balls around using finicky controls, rotate to find things or draw paths for thieves. Others showed up on occasion, but it was primarily those ones for some reason. Granted, a couple of those particular games offer different stage designs.
As you may have realized, the mini-games take advantage of the Wii U’s GamePad controller. Its gyro sensor is used to tilt things, and its touchscreen is used for different activities, including drawing, item locating and three hundred and sixty degree searches. Going further, the screen and stylus combination is also required for rolling dice, picking preferred destinations and using items.
On the other side of things lies the competitor, who can use a Wiimote to make things difficult. However, if that person is not available, the computer acts as that adversary. When that occurs, things become surprisingly difficult, due to unforgiving artificial intelligence.
Even if its controls were better, Rabbids Land still wouldn’t be much fun. Its bland and uninspired designs become boring quickly, and its lack of creative replay value presents a major problem. Frankly, it’s too bad, because there was potential here, but too much time was seemingly spent on the unlockable videos. Sure, they’re funny, and look great, but they don’t cover up the game’s issues.
The good news is that this iteration looks quite good. It has a varied colour palette, which pops, as well as some interesting cutscenes. However, that same level of quality care wasn’t carried over to the audio. Although the repetitive music and varied sound effects sound pretty good, there’s a weird popping noise that mars the experience. It became quite annoying during my review session.
In the end, I cannot recommend Rabbids Land. Unfortunately, what could have been a good and incredibly replayable party game is a dull and disappointing dud, which won’t appeal to many people. Pass on this one.
This review is based on a Wii U copy of the game that was provided to us.