Review: Rabbids Land (Nintendo Wii U)

Rabbids Land
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Board Game/Mini Game Compilation
Release Date: 11/13/2012

I was a huge fan of the Rabbids series when it first came out. The first game was one of the best titles for the Wii in its early days and it made wonderful use of the motion controls. The next two game were highly entertaining mini-game compilations that could be enjoyed by a single gamer or a group of friends. The fourth game, Rabbids Go Home, switched the wacky alien lagomorphs from mini games to a platformer. I didn’t care for it at all, and obviously, neither did too many people, because the series went right back to mini game compilations after that snafu. Since Rabbids Go Home though, the series has lost its luster. Travel in Time, Alive and Kickin’ and the other Rabbid releases just haven’t been as fun or funny as the original trilogy (which you can buy as one big collection or the Wii for about ten bucks these days). However, Rabbids Land looked like a return to greatness for the series. Like the original Rayman Raving Rabbids, this was Ubisoft’s chance to make the most of the new GamePad and really showcase what the Wii U could do. Unfortunately, while the game does do a good job of utilizing the GamePad, Rabbids Party takes a nose dive in regards to practically everything else one uses as a benchmark for a quality game.

The first thing you’ll notice is that Rabbids Land is a board game style title, similar to the Mario Party games. You’ll be going around the board trying to collect trophies. Get enough, and you can make your way back towards the start. Do this and you win. I’ve never found a Mario Party game fun, as they are just too slow moving for my taste, and it’s boring as hell to play one of those titles by yourself. Rabbids Land suffers the same problem. You HAVE to play the game with four players (whereas at least the Mario Party games offered a one on one story mode in some of the releases) so you have to deal with four A.I. controlled opponents if you want to play by yourself. This is exceptionally boring, and as there is no way to quickly pass through the A.I.’a moves, seventy-five percent of your playtime will be just sitting there bored out of your skull. Thankfully you don’t have to watch the computer play mini games against itself, but the loading times while it decides which of its characters won is quite long. With multiple people, the board game aspect is still pretty boring, as all the mini games in Rabbids Land are for two players only. I’m still perplexed as to why the game forces four players on you if all the mini games are two players. The best board game style titles allow everyone to play mini games together. The way Ubisoft has done Rabbids Land ensures at least one gamer at any time will be bored. That’s not a good design.

Crazier still is the fact you have to play through the board game mode if you want to access any single player or two player only content. So in order to access any segment gamers might actually want to play, you have to sit through the boring board game mode. Ick. Crazier still, you can only access games in single or two player mode that you have previously played in board game mode, which means you will have to repeatedly play board game mode to unlock new mini games. The worst part is that you don’t get to choose what mini game you play in board game mode – it’s all random. Which means you could play through board game mode several times and never get one of the few mini games you still need to unlock from single or two player mode. This is a terrible design choice on all fronts, and it’s all but going to guarantee anyone who picks this up will trade the game in. Compare this to the second and third Rabbids game, where you could play whatever you want, whenever you wanted, be it single OR multi-player. Why Ubisoft would backslide the series like this is beyond me and is terribly disappointing.

Single Player is known as Treasure Hunt Mode. Again, you have to unlock the game by playing it in Board Game Mode first, so although you can access this after your first play of Board Game Mode, only expect three or so games to be available to you there. Here you’ll play the same mini games on the GamePad that you encountered in BGM, but there will be three coins that randomly show up while you play. Touch a coin and it’s yours, regardless of whether you win or lose at the game. Collecting coins unlocks old Rabbids commercials for previous games. It’s not much, but it’s something. Unfortunately the videos are some of the newer, less funny ones. You would think Ubisoft would have put the best Rabbids shorts on here, but unfortunately this just marks another strange decision made by the developers here. I would have loved for some of the original viral videos they made for the first Rabbids game, but none are here. You might chuckle at some of these, but these unlockables just help to highlight how far the series has fallen in the past few years. Scary considering it’s not even a decade old.

Two Player Mode is exactly the same as Treasure Hunt, except there are no coins. You just look through the mini games available to you and pick which one you want to play. This is probably the best way to fiddle with Rabbids Land, but again – you have to play through Board Game Mode repeatedly to unlock anything, so by the time you have enough mini games for this mode, you’ll probably be sick of the game entirely.

I think the worst part about Rabbids Land is that it simply isn’t funny. The dark humour of the first few games is completely gone here. None of the Rabbids have any personality in or out of the mini-games, and somehow it’s supposed to be funny that each time you roll the die, you nail the Rabbid with it, or when you win trophies, the Rabbids eat them. Neither of these were funny the first time I saw them, so why would it be when I have to see them every time every player does something? You would think there would have been a bit more variety to the actions Rabbids take, but unfortunately no. This is bare bones as it gets. Everything that made the original mini game compilations hilarious and fun to play are completely missing from Rabbids Land. It’s a real shame as this could have been GREAT. It really could have.

So what is good about Rabbids Land? Well the game plays quite well. Ubisoft really did a fine job with the use of the GamePad. The mini games are diverse and have you using the Gamepad as everything from a motion control device or a regular joystick to a camera or a light gun. The mini games aren’t funny; they’re just generic mini-games, but they do make incredible use of the GamePad. Playing through these simply highlights just how bad the exceptionally slow board game idea was. If they had done something more akin to one of the original three games and just let you jump into the mini games, this would have been a LOT better instead of an hour long board game session where maybe fifteen minutes of which is actually playing something. Unfortunately the actual mini games are about half of what we’ve seen in previous Rabbid titles, which is just another strike against the game. Basically Rabbids Land is an example of what NOT to do with the franchise. Again, the mini games themselves are fine, if lacking in the usual Rabbids personality, but they’re too bogged down by what you have to do to experience any of them. Maybe if Board Game Mode actually had you playing more mini games instead of answering trivia or playing a weird version of roulette, things would have been better. You could have unlocked more games at a faster rate. Instead you’re just bored for a good chunk of the game and annoyed if you play through and don’t unlock a single new mini game. Why do this to your friends?

The graphics in Rabbids Land are pretty good too. The mini games and Rabbids themselves have a lot of definition to them and it’s fun to see some of the unlocked videos in high definition for the first time. The game is colorful and everything is animated nicely. So, visually the game looks good, but there are still some issues. In previous Rabbids games, you could dress up Rabbids in various costumes. This was especially helpful in multiplayer mini games, as people could tell their Rabbids apart. Here, all you get are different COLORS for your Rabbids. While this does help you to tell the Rabbids apart, it is an obvious backslide in both quality and depth from what came before, and highlights just how barebones Rabbids Land is compared to its predecessors. I’m sorry, but a launch game for a 2012 system should have more content and options than a six year old game for the Wii. I don’t know whether to be sad or angry here. At least the game looks high definition, but again, so much more could have been done here.

There isn’t a lot to talk about sound-wise here. You have the usual Rabbid noises and different tracks for each mini-game. There’s nothing especially memorable in terms of the score or sound effects. It’s all highly forgettable, and something most gamers will tune out while playing the short little mini-games. The track you’ll hear most often is on the board while you try and go for your trophies (think of them as points rather than trophies in the PS3 style) and you will learn to either tune it out or be annoyed by it, as it plays constantly. Now I could say that this would happen with any single track that you would hear throughout the majority of any single game, but we’ve seen this patently isn’t true. Look at the theme from Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and more. The key is that if you’re going to force gamers to hear the same song for ninety percent of the game, it has to be REALLY GOOD. That’s not the case here.

Rabbids Land also has two other things worth noting. The first is that you can play the entire game on the GamePad instead of the television. So if, say, my wife wanted to watch a TV show and I really wanted to get more coins in Treasure Hunt, I could just set the TV option to “off” and the entire game would take place on the GamePad screen. You can even do this for Board Game Mode, so once again, we see that Rabbids Land uses the technology of the Wii U quite nicely, even if it’s not a very fun or interesting game. The other thing is that the game asks you to connect up with Ubisoft’s U-Play site. Doing this will net you U-Play coins by doing various actions, such as collecting ten coins in Treasure Hunt mode, making it through Board Game Mode once, unlocking all the mini games and more. Then you can go to the website and spend your coins on unlockables for this, or any other U-Play title that Ubisoft puts out. With Rabbids Land you can unlock a new colour for your Rabbids, an extra level of a mini game and some music. The rewards aren’t great and I don’t like the idea of Ubisoft tracking you playing their games, but then so many gamers use services like Raptr and it’s better than DRM, so I guess it’s okay. Just remember, if Ubisoft ever stops their UPlay service, those are rewards and unlockables you’ll never get to touch if you don’t already have them. I guess think of it as free DLC you can earn if exchange for giving Ubisoft access to your Wii U, email, address and phone number. Whee?

When all is said and done, Rabbids Land went from being my most anticipated title for the WII U to game I found most disappointing from the dozen or so launch titles I’ve had to slog through (Yes, a lot more Wii U reviews are coming!). The game makes fine use of the GamePad and its touch screen, but that’s the only thing it does right. Unfortunately, a game of Rabbids Land in Board Game Mode lasts about an hour, and of that hour, each player will probably only get five to ten minutes of time actually engaging in mini-games. Again, you have to go through BGM in order to unlock mini games for the solo or two player modes, which is a terrible idea, especially since Board Game Mode is so boring. Ubosoft really could have had a hit on its hands. Instead, the game lacks all the charm of previous Rabbids releases and fails to capture any of the previous magic. When you manage to make a Rabbids title both boring and unfunny, you’ve done something spectacularly wrong. Bravo Ubisoft. Basically, don’t bother with this game. It’s a game for four players, yet only two can engage in a mini game at any time, and where you barely get to spend any time with the little quality content the game provides. Rabbids Land is a chore, and that makes two games in row that have been pretty high profile failures. This is NOT the kind of game you want to release right before the Rabbids cartoon series launches, as if the kids get a hold of this first…they’re not going to want to sit through the TV show.

The Scores:
Modes: Bad
Graphics: Enjoyable
Sound: Decent
Control and Gameplay: Good
Replayability: Mediocre
Balance: Mediocre
Originality: Bad
Addictiveness: Bad
Appeal Factor: Mediocre
Miscellaneous: Worthless
FINAL SCORE: Below Average Game!

Short Attention Span Summary
Rabbids Land just might be the worst Rabbids game yet. It’s a shame too, because the mini games make wonderful use of the Wii U’s GamePad. However, the mini games are for only two players and Board Game Mode forces you to have four characters, between human and A.I. Players. You have to sit through Board Game Mode to unlock any of the mini games for Single or Two Player mode, and Board Game Might just might be the most boring video game ever produced in this style. For an hour long “game,” expect each player to get five to ten minutes AT MOST with the mini games, and the rest is just sitting, loading times and rolling a die. Perhaps the worst part is that all the trademark dark humour the Rabbids franchise is known for is gone here, leaving you with a very generic game without any personality. It’s my least favorite of the launch titles I’ve reviewed so far, and considering I’m a really big fan of the Rabbids in all their forms, this was a bitter pill to swallow.



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One response to “Review: Rabbids Land (Nintendo Wii U)”

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