Publisher: Sekai Project
Genre: Exploration Platformer
Erina is a small little bunny who has been turned into a human, though she kept her long ears and her fluffy little tail. Ribbon is a scantily clad forest fairy with magic powers. Together they form our eponymous duo in Rabi-Ribi.
Currently a part of Steam’s Greenlight program, Rabi-Ribi is an 2-D exploration platformer (commonly known as a “Metroidvania”) that features a bit of a bullet-hell mash-up as the bosses fill the screen with brightly colored projectiles. The game is a creation of CreSpirirt, a Taiwanese studio that funded the game via Indiegogo, and is published by Sekai Project.
Like most games in the style, you explore a large world that features barriers to your progression. To pass these barriers you need to find a power up that gives you a new ability and access to a new area. For instance, our bunny girl can get a high jump that lets her reach taller platforms, and later a slide kick that lets you access smaller spaces.
The combat is combo focused; Erina has a piko piko hammer for up close melee and Ribbon fires magical projectiles. It feels pretty good, has an ever expanding move list so it never gets stale and allows for all of the attacks to feel like they serve a purpose. Most of the enemies are pushovers, and you rarely face much challenge, though some of the bosses can be tough thanks to their bullet-hell nature. The bosses can actually be invincible at times, and they spew forth Technicolor blobs that fill the screen. They are usually pretty easy to dodge, but now and then you just feel like you are being wailed on by a bunch of cheap auto-hits. Luckily, you usually have enough health to weather any storm; it just gets a bit frustrating to feel that the damage you take isn’t because of a mistake you have made.
The graphics are nice, and feature an Easter Pastel theme. The artwork is sprite based and looks appealing, though I wish it had heavier line work around the characters, or even black lines instead of using colors already present in the sprites. It reminds me of the NES Tiny Toons Adventures game, though that game looked that way due to hardware limitations; in Rabi-Ribi it just feels like a stylistic choice that (for me) slightly misses the mark. It also feels like Erina could use a few more frames of animation here and there, just to make movement look and feel a bit more robust.
Where Rabi-Ribi truly excels is in the music, which is exceptional. In the first area it sets a very appropriate tone for our lost rabbit girl, and later in the over world it gets hoppy and happy. The tunes always feel like they belong to the area you are in or they set the mood for the situation presented to you. It honestly may be some of my favorite video game music in a long while, and considering how much good music there has been lately, that is saying something. The sound effects also fit snugly in the game, accenting actions in just the right way.
Overall the game plays very well, though I did have one problem. The default control layout on gamepad is not optimal. With your melee attack on the Y button and jump on the A button, it takes some dexterity to press them both at the same time. Luckily, you can change this in the options. Unluckily, when I did the game would randomly reset my custom bindings, often during a boss fight. It was the height of frustration and one of the most irritating things to ever happen to me in a game. I must have set those controls thirty or more times because of this. Despite this, I did want to keep playing the game thanks to the awesome tunes and overall rock solid game play.
Rabi-Ribi is currently on Steam Greenlight and should be available for purchase in early 2016. If you are a fan of hoppy-boppy music, Metroidvania game play, and sickeningly cute rabbit girls: Rabi-Ribi may be right up your alley and well worth checking out, and we’ll have a full review closer to release.