I remember back in 2006 when Rayman Ravings Rabbids first came out. I was surprised how much I loved the game. It made perfect use of the then brand new Nintendo Wii’s motion controls and it was a blast to play. I hadn’t experienced a game that funny since the golden age of LucasArts point and click adventures games, like Sam and Max Hit the Road or Maniac Mansion. Considering there has been a new Rabbids game released every year since, most of which have received praise from critics and gamers alike, I can confidently say it’s one of Ubisoft’s biggest franchises.
The second game in the series was a blast as well and the third game made excellent use of the Wii’s new balance board, even though neither Black Flag nor Henry Rollins made an appearance (Obscure joke, sorry).
Now the Rabbids are back with a new game called Rabbids Land. Out of all the Wii U’s launch titles, this is the one I’m most interested in. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information about the game out there, and I wanted to learn more about the Rabbid’s latest adventure. I put out feelers to Ubisoft and Sarah Irvin was more than happy to set up an interview with the team behind Rabbids Land for me. What fabulous secrets were revealed to me the day I held my sword aloft and said, “DAAAAAAAGH?” Let’s find out what Ubisoft had to say.
Diehard GameFAN: Rabbids Land is the seventh game to feature this band of one-time Rayman antagonists. What is it about the Rabbids that make them so popular and more importantly, what about them makes you want to keep going back and make new games featuring them?
Ubisoft: When we released the very first game featuring the Rabbids, we couldn’t help but notice how enthusiastic people were towards them. The Rabbids allows us (and players) to loosen up and release out inner jokester. There is no shame anymore in acting stupid or doing things our parents taught us not to do! From a creative standpoint, the Rabbids give us the opportunity to parody every aspect of popular culture and play with the well-established rules. You are not supposed to use the balance board sitting on it? We don’t care; Rabbids will play with their butts!
DHGF: Aside from Rabbids Go Home and the 3DS version of Travel in Time, all the Rabbids games have been mini-game collections. Why is that?
Ubisoft: The Rabbids’ DNA has been strongly rooted in the party game genre since their creation. Rabbids are social creatures. They are here to generate a fun moment of social interaction and the party game is to date our best answer to have people spend a good moment together. This year, we are trying to create a new party game experience to give the chance to everyone to enjoy the game. The mini-games are now fully integrated in the context of the game (the amusement park) and getting into the attractions is only one of the many ways to have a good time.
DHGF: What are some of the mini-games we’ll see in Rabbids Land? Will there be any repeats of past favorites?
Ubisoft: Each new console brings its own set of unique controls and the team wants to take full advantage of those every time. Each new opus brings a new theme that is a new source of inspiration for our game designers and talented artists. We know the Rabbids are a yearly rendez-vous and we want to make sure that the die-hard fans get a renewed experience all the time.
DHGF: The big draw with the Wii U is the new GamePad. We’ve seen how previous Rabbids titles have made great use of motion controls, but how will Rabbids Land use the new GamePad?
Ubisoft: The addition of a second screen allowed us to create an asymmetrical gameplay experience: two players, two set of controls, two views on the action, two objectives in a single setting. With the GamePad, we tried to push the limits of the usages by doing everything you don’t want your kid to do with your personal tablet (or you feel ashamed to do). People will be steering it, tilting it, drawing on it, hiding secrets, aim with it, blow on it and even dance with it (Rabbids love to dance!).
DHGF: Console-wise, aside from the very first Rabbids game and the Kinect oriented Alive and Kicking, all the Rabbids games have been Nintendo exclusive. Generally you hear waves of complaints that Nintendo isn’t very friendly to third party developers, yet here Ubisoft is with a franchise that has been more or less Nintendo exclusive for nearly seven years. Would you say the Rabbid are proof that a third party developer/publisher can make a Nintendo exclusive franchise and still make money/be popular, or is it the exception to the supposed rule? Why have the Rabbids succeeded where other popular franchises ranging from Dead Space to Sonic the Hedgehog haven’t?
Ubisoft: To be honest, Ubisoft as a unique relationship with Nintendo for ages. We have always been supporting their console launches with a quality line-up and our team is pushing the hardware. Nintendo recognizes our effort on these matters. The Rabbids always felt at home on Nintendo’s system because the motion gaming and the public who love the Wii were at the heart of the creation of this characters.
DHGF: We know Rabbids Land will feature local multiplayer options as it’s a party game, but will there be any chance to play the game online with friends much farther away?
Ubisoft: When it comes to party-games, the most important thing is to get people to play together and have fun doing do. It’s a mix of taunting, laughing, challenging and interacting with each other. To give the best experience possible we had to focus on the core of the experience: playing together in the living room.
DHGF: In previous Rabbids games you’ve been able to customize your personal rabid and even unlock homages to other videos games like Assassin’s Creed and Street Fighter. Will you still be able to do the same here, and if so, what familiar costumes might we see?
Ubisoft: Being in an amusement park means that the team is creating a consistent universe for every single attraction. You will get to see a wide variety of costumes, from pirates to ghosts, including princesses. Players won’t be able to pick one since in this game during the trophy race you are symbolized by a very special kind of pawn…
DHGF: Will Rayman be making an appearance in Rabbids Land or are the two franchises now forever separate?
Ubisoft: Never say never. Rabbids were born as Rayman’s nemesis and there is always a chance they will get back to it! With the Rabbids, you can’t say what they will invade next.
DHGF: For people that already own one or more of the previous Rabbids mini-game compilations, what about Rabbids Land, will make them want to pick this one up as well?
Ubisoft: This year’s theme gives a unique flavor to Rabbids Land by using codes that both parents and kids can relate to. In addition, the trophy race that is at the core of the experience is giving a huge replay value to the whole game. I think our fans will also be delighted by how creative the team has been in designing the attractions and the asymmetrical gameplay.
DHGF: Finally, with the upcoming Rabbids cartoon show debuting on Nickelodeon in 2013, is there a chance Rabbids Land might contain an episode to whet fans’ appetites?
Ubisoft: We want to keep the TV series as a big reveal and won’t feature it in this year’s opus but we have some surprises for the fans of the Rabbids famous viral videos… but I cannot tell you more about that at this time.
Rabbids Land will be released November 13th, five full days before the official release of the Wii U, so you will have plenty of time to pick this up before you have to deal with the lines of people making sure their local gaming store got all of their console pre-orders in. To learn more about the game, or the Rabbids in general, you can always visit, the official Rabbids website. Keep your eyes tuned to Diehard GameFAN as we’ll have a review of Rabbids Land up somewhere between the launch day of the game or the Wii U itself. I’m really excited to see what new antics the Rabbids can get up to in their seventh straight release. Will Rabbids Land turn out to be one of the crown jewels in the Wii U’s lineup? Only time will tell.