Rabbids Go Home
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Release Date: 11/02/2009
I love the Rabbids. I have to admit that up front. The first Rayman Raving Rabbids was one of my first purchases for the Wii and I believe it’s still the oldest game I have for the console besides Wii Sports. Rayman Ravings Rabbids 2 was one of my favourite games of 2007 and Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party was almost as good and featured some of the best balance board controls I’ve ever seen.
Now for the fourth Rabbids, there are three big changes. The first is that Rayman is FINALLY gone from the series, which should make fans of both franchises happy. The second is that the series has left the mini games collection genre behind. The third is that the game is now a weird platformer/cart racing hybrid. Thumbs up to the first two ideas, but I have to admit the third gave me pause. I’ve never been a real fan of the Rayman platformers and I really don’t like platformers in general. However, the fact I’ve played several platformers this year that I actually enjoyed, such as A Boy and His Blob, The Legendary Starfy and Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero?, I decided to give Rabbids Go Home a try and see how it fared.
So was this a good turning point for the series, or the first nail in the coffin?
I have to admit I was drastically disappointed here as the quality in terms of storytelling plummeted with this game. One of the best things about the first three Rabbids games was how amazing the characterization of these creatures was with only mini games to show their level of insanity. Perhaps this shows that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
After three games, the Rabbids are finally bored with Earth and decide to go home. However, they can’t remember where they are from, so they decide to build a ladder out of junk to get to the moon. On the surface this sounds like an okay plan, especially for the Rabbids, but the implementation of this “story” just doesn’t work. You end up playing as two Rabbids in a shopping cart collecting things from humans and settings like malls or public thoroughfares. If this had been a Katamari Damacy style game, this would have been a fun little thing, but instead you’re randomly able to pick up some things but not other. Why a piece of Pizza instead of that shrub for example. It gets worse as you’ll eventually played through six worlds of five stages each that are almost exactly the same thing: Driving your cart through maze like environments while avoiding being hit. It will always be the same thing save for different backgrounds and badly rendered items to collect. Even many of the cut scenes, such as going to or leaving an areas will always be the exact one with no way to skip it. Awful.
The worst part is that the level of humour and insanity the Rabbids display has been severely dumbed down. In the previous games, the satire was biting, the homages and references to other pieces of pop culture were clever and hilarious, and there was a level of surreality bordering on European Existentialism; kind of Kafka on LSD. Here things have been reduced to bits that either make no sense or are funny only to a small child. A huge part of the game is scaring clothing of humans so that you can collect it. This is cute the first time, but that’s about it. The fact this is used so often gets annoying quickly. There’s also an abundance of borderline racist humans such as asian characters talking with a 1940′s-esque Chinese accent and saying the same sort of things you would here in a film from that era. I’m surprised they weren’t coloured brightly yellow. The same goes for nearly ethnicity in the game and I was a little shocked that the Rabbids have been reduced from something akin to Black Adder to jokes that couldn’t have even made a Police Academy film or a Benny Hill B clip reel. Again, fart jokes are funny once. Basing an entire stage around the same fart is NOT.
The brilliant characterization that was seen in the previous three Rabbids games is nowhere to be seen and this game has devolved these clever little creatures into 1990′s PSX platformer level lame.
Your only mode is to slowly progress through this game in a linear fashion, but you can access a bit where you can design your own Rabbid as well as unlock various “theme” Rabbids which has them sporting costumed from games like Prince of Persia or Assassin’s Creed. You can also download a Rabbid channel which lets you look at and vote on the best new Rabbids in the theme of the week. Sadly RRRTVP had a better version of this with “Pimp My Rabbid” and I found myself quickly bored with the lack of any real options for my Rabbid.
Huge thumbs down to plot and overall mode of this game. The entire spirit and frivolity of the Rabbids were lost here and this game might as well star Bubsy and Blinx.
Story/Modes Rating: Bad
This is another area that took a huge hit compared to the first three games. Although the Rabbids still look okay, everything else is pretty ugly. The backgrounds have gone from being rather detailed and fun to extremely bland and something you’d have seen more on the N64. Things have little to no detail and can often be pretty pixelated or even grainy. I was most disappointed with the human models which are so bad they may Miis look like top quality visuals. I’m not sure why Ubisoft decided to drastically lower the quality of the graphics, especially when all the mini game collections looked so much better, but this was pretty hard to look at for most of the game.
You’ve got poorly done backgrounds that look the same for most of the game, with a lot of rehashing, some of the worst character and animal models I’ve seen on the Wii (But not THE worst, that’s for sure) and Rabbids that have noticeably gotten uglier, especially when compared side by side with RRR2 or TV Party. Again, another big disappointment that shows Ubisoft just cashed in on a franchise instead of making a quality game.
Graphics Rating: Bad
I hate to be so negative, but this is another aspect of the game that flat out sucked. The Rabbids have only a fraction of the voice work they had in previous games and it appears to simply have been recycled from those games. The voice work for the new humans is pretty bad. A lot of it is monotone or with extremely fake and exaggerated accents for various ethnicities. The rest of it is simply dull and uninspired. Again, it’s obviously that the Rabbids idea works bets in small doses because this has gone from hilarious to unfunny with a single game entry.
There aren’t a lot of sound effects to discuss either. You get the same noise when you lose a “life,” regardless of what you hit and there such little variety for noises when you hit things, pick up things or plummet to your demise that I wonder why such little care was paid to what is easily the biggest third party franchise on the Wii. Everything feels shallow, rushed, and half-assed and the sound is no different. The best thing I can say is that the game uses a few licensed tracks of classic 60′s and 70′s songs, but these are used quite poorly compared to how the Rabbids games have used pop songs in the past. Another big whiff here.
Sound Rating: Bad
4. Control and Gameplay
As much as I’ve hated on this game so far I do have to say that the gameplay is the one shining moment of this title. Sure the levels are repetitive to the point of being boring and there is no real variety or challenge to the game, but I can’t deny that this game has a pretty solid camera for a 3-D platformer. Not once could I ever complain about where the camera was or how it followed my Rabbid pushcart. If more 3-D action games and/or platformers had a camera designed this well, both genres would have legions of happier fans. You don’t even need to control or reset the camera (not that you have either of those options in this game) which is pretty rare indeed.
The actual gameplay is pretty simple. You have a Nunchuk-Wiimote combination. You use the analog stick on the nunchuk to guide your cart. The A button lets you move faster, but not by much and you can pretty much get through the game without ever having to use it. The nice thing is that the slight increase in speed doesn’t affect your handling like in other games where you drive a kart. Shaking your Wiimote lets you use your “BWAAAAH” attack, which I believe is the third way to spell what Rabbids say. I’ve seen it as “Baaaaah” and “Daaaaaah!” but now it appears the Rabbids have been hanging out with Michael Carter and Ted Kord.
You can get a super boost by taking a tight turn and then hitting B, although this is mainly used for ramps or breaking through obstacles. You can also take a picture at any time in the game, but the graphics are so awful there’s no point in it. Finally, you have the neatest thing about the game and that’s the “Rabbid living in your Wiimote” Not only is there a fun diversion where the Rabbid will tumble around in your Wiimote (and you can watch it happen), but you can shoot this Rabbid from your wiimote by pressing A. if it’s at the right object, it will break, allowing your pushcart duo to either collect the object or pass through something it previously couldn’t.
As mentioned earlier, the object is to collect assorted crap for your leaning tower of junk, although what you collect has no rhyme or reason and it’s a bit odd to attack Santa Claus and see him drop hamburgers or to collide with a Sunglass stand and have pizza come out of it. I’m not sure who designed this game, but this just seems like a programming error more than a bad attempt at lame comedy, As you collect items, you’ll gain gifts at the 50, 100, 200 and 300 foot marks. These gifts can then be used to customize your Rabbid, but as none of the parts are that interesting, it’s more just to see how well you do.
So yes, even though the game is boring, shallow and trite, the engine itself is solid and well made. It’s just too bad the creators weren’t more… well, creative with this title.
Control and Gameplay: Good
The game is super linear, so you’ll have to play the exact same levels in the exact same order every time you play it. As the game is pretty dull to begin with, this drastically cuts down any replay value the title has, especially compared to the mini game compilations where you had almost complete freedom of what to do next. If you somehow miss all four packages per level you can try again, but honestly, I missed a single package in my entire play through so it’s doubtful you’ll need to bother, especially as the gifts aren’t any real rewards to begin with.
The only real replay value comes from the Rabbids channel and designing Rabbids for the theme of the week. Still, we all know that won’t last very long and only a fraction of people who pick up this title will even care about it. It’s superficial junk than won’t matter in a few months, or possibly even a few weeks, depending on sales.
This game is a rental at best and lack all of the replay value the previous three games had. It’s just a very boring, linear platformer without any real style or innovation that would make you want to go through it a second time.
Replayability Rating: Poor
This is one of the easiest platformers I’ve ever played. At no point in the game should you ever die unless you fall off a building. Funny thing with that though. You have three light bulbs, which basically represent your lives. Getting hit by something bad causes one of these to burn out, and losing all three restarts the game at your last check point but sans all the objects you collected. HOWEVER if you ever fall, it’s an automatically loss of all your “lives” which just seems ridiculous and stupid. This is one of the many bone headed decisions with this game that makes Rabbids Go Home a mediocre – at best – title. It’s also going to confuse and annoy a lot of younger gamers the first time it happens to them, and there’s no real reason why one form of damage should wipe out all your lives when everything else just does one.
Aside from that, the game is almost laughably easy. There are plenty of spare light bulbs to pick up and you should never have a problem collecting all the items you need. In fact, without even trying, you’ll probably perfect a lot of the levels, even in the latter half of the game, which is really sad.
A good part of the lack of challenge comes from the shallowness of the game. Every level is practically the same save for a few gimmick changes. Even then things feel like you’ve done them before even in the first world(which you access via the sewers) and it never gets better. Now whether the game would be as boring if it wasn’t so easy is matter of conjecture, but I’d have to say that yes, it would be.
No substance, no style and no challenge. That sums up Rabbids Go Home pretty easily. This is just a poorly done game where you’ll breeze through the title from beginning to end.
Balance Rating: Poor
Well, at least they totally changed the genre on us. That’s something original for this game. It’s also pretty unique to have a pushcart based platformer where two players can join in for some “wacky” antics. My favourite innovation is the Rabbid wiimote, as the only real funny parts of the game are when you’re in there looking at the Rabbid and making its life a living hell. Poor little alien bunny thing.
It’s rather obvious when a franchise is milked for all it is worth when the very game you are playing is so repetitive that after the first world things feel like you’ve already done them (and you probably have). The last level is basically the same as the first and with things being so rehashed, you should probably take bets with your friends as to just when the developers stopping caring and just made this game for cash. There’s just an alarming lack of creativity and it’s all the more apparent since that’s the one thing the Rabbid franchise was best known for. Boo-urns.
Originality Rating: Poor
To be honest, the only thing that got me past the first world was my love of the Rabbids and my wacky optimism that the game would get better, funnier, or (hopefully) both. Alas, neither occurred and this left me with a pretty bitter taste in my mouth. It took a lot of will to play through all eight hours of this game and Cthulhu knows, this is going right into the “trade-in” pile because it was that much of a chore to play.
Even long time platformer fans will be bored with how dull this game is and how much repetition there is. Every level is so close to the one before and/or after it, that everything runs together and you find yourself wondering how this could be the same development studio that made the previous Rabbid games. It’s like night and day. Like fillet mignon and animal feed. Like Sydney and the Bush.
As a boring platformer that is a mere shadow of the things that made the first three Rabbids games so enjoyable, it’ll be hard for all but the most zealous Rabbid fans to wade through this pile of drek. God knows I’m one of those fans and playing this was painful.
Addictiveness Rating: Poor
9. Appeal Factor
I have no idea who this game is supposed to appeal to. Obviously not the majority of Rabbid fans who are used to mini games or things that are extremely funny as this is neither. It’s obviously not going to appeal to Rayman platformer fans as they’re already alienated by the Rabbids to begin with. Most platformer fans will find this game dull and extremely repetitious to the point of utter boredom. It’s a no-win situation with this game as no demographic will actually be happy with a title that obviously was whipped together quickly and belonged as a budget title rather than a full $50 purchase. Again, I can only see the biggest diehards of Rabbids or Platformers actually enjoying this. There are far better platformers for the Wii, so your money is better spent on one of those.
Appeal Factor: Poor
Well, besides being an crappy game that has no business being a full priced title, Rabbids Go Home contains a code for two unlockable Rabbids based on where you bought the game at. This means you’ll have to trade codes with friends to get them all. Not quite Pokemon, but at least it’s something to share with the other people suckered into this game. To make the poison taste a little better, here are codes for the characters.
2211AA11 Assassin’s Creed Rabbid
B11BA22A Best Buy Rabbid
AA111122 Geek Squad Rabbid
121212AA Prince of Persia Rabbid
BBBBAAAA Splinter Cell Rabbid
1122AA11 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Rabbid
Other than that, this is the most boring and repetitive platformer I’ve played all year.
Miscellaneous Rating: Bad
Control and Gameplay: Good
Appeal Factor: Poor
FINAL SCORE: POOR GAME!
Short Attention Span Summary
Honestly, Rabbids Go Home is the most boring and repetitive platformer I’ve played this year. Where the original mini game compilations actually had some great homages and wit to them, this game’s comedy is pretty much the equivalent of fart jokes. The graphics and audio aspects of the game are the worst to feature Rabbids yet and at no point will you be provided with even the slightest challenge. The only thing good I can say about the game is that both the engine and the controls are exceptionally solid and provide a rewarding experience. It’s just that there are only so many hours you can strip people naked or make pizza shoot out of a locker before your eyes glaze over and you wonder what happened to the level of creativity the mini game compilations once had.