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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft Montpellier (France)
Genre: Platformer
Players: 1-4
Rated: E (Everyone)
Release Date: November 19, 2006
Written By: Daniel Sims
Amazon: BUY NOW!

Out of everything Ubisoft’s been throwing at the Wii since it launched, Rayman Raving Rabbids is quite possibly the best thing to come to the system yet, providing a surprising variety of minigames that serve as good examples of what the Wii can do, all wrapped together in the package of a fully-fledged game.

After being taken prisoner by a subterranean race of crazed bunnies, Rayman must perform dozens of different tasks for their amusement, and thus ensues a series of minigames, most of which are great examples of the Wii’s capabilities and make for some good simple fun.

Rayman Raving Rabbids is basically a collection of some 70-plus minigames ranging from shooting galleries, races, cow tosses, sequence memorizations, whack-a-moles, and a bunch of other nonsense that I couldn’t completely cover in this review. For the most part these minigames use the Wii remote in some pretty creative ways.

One game for instance has you tilt the Wii remote to operate something similar to one of those old marble maze puzzles. Another one has you ride a bird by steering with twists of the Wii remote. Another has you swing the Wii remote over your head in order to swing and toss a cow. Two of the best selections in Raving Rabbids are recurring minigames, one of them a drum-type music game and the other a shooting gallery.

As music plays and rabbits cross the screen you must flick the Wii remote and nunchuck down at the moment they reach the center of the screen. The remote for rabbits coming from the right and the nunchuck for rabbits coming from the left. The result is an experience somewhat like playing a song with drums. Taiko Drum Master this is not, but the first time playing it does feel pretty cool.

The shooting gallery has Rayman go through a horde of rabbits while armed with a plunger gun in order to rescue one of his friends in something very similar to Virtua Cop or House of the Dead. The Wii remote is used to point at and shoot enemies, but there also exist items like health and weapon powerups. For me this was probably the most enjoyable minigame in the whole of Raving Rabbids and I always looked forward to each new occurrence of it.

Although many of the minigames in Raving Rabbids presented very interesting ideas for how the Wii remote could bring new approaches to gaming, there were also some really cool ideas that could have used a little more refinement.

The whack-a-mole game in Raving Rabbids is operated by using the Wii remote to aim and the nunchuck to hit rabbits that would pop out of holes with a shovel. The problem with this one was that my right-handedness combined with the shovel appearing to be held in the right hand, made it a bit disorienting to be performing the actual hitting motion with my left hand. This could have been fixed with a simple instruction to hold the nunchuck in the right hand or the option to switch handedness for that game.

One especially cool concept that I was never able to see work flawlessly was a sort of minefield game. Rayman was tasked with bringing a baby pig to its mother at the other end of a field. Buried in the field were rabbits that would pop out with dynamite in hand ready to self destruct. In order to detect and avoid these rabbits, Rayman would have to hold out the baby pig and listen for its warning squeal. In order to hear this you have to hold the Wii remote speaker up to your ear much like a telephone while moving Rayman with the analog stick. This sounds really cool but there were too many times where I would step on a trap with no warning or where the speaker simply wouldn’t work at all.

On top of this there were quite a few minigames that did feel frustrating due to either loose or simply unresponsive controls and some that just made little sense. There were also times when passing a stage became especially difficult due to the appearance of several of the more frustrating games.

The single player mode of Rayman Raving Rabbids is split up into stages. Each “stage” of the game presents Rayman with four challenges. One of these four challenges is always the music game and the other three are a random selection. Three out of the four challenges must be completed in each level before moving on to the “boss” challenge, which is usually the shooting range game.

Although saving only occurs between stages and not between minigames, playing through Raving Rabbids like this sets the game at a nice pace that allows players to take the minigames just a few at a time, which is good because the game’s very nature of throwing so many different things at you in such rapid succession makes it somewhat difficult to play it for more than half an hour or so at a time.

The whole game is styled with a sort of quirky presentation, the strangest part about it being the relationship between the protagonist Rayman himself and the supposed antagonists, the rabbits.

At first Rayman is clearly seen as a prisoner being forced to perform the challenges for the enjoyment of the rabbits as he is dragged and thrown in and out of his cell before and after each stage. But later on as he accomplishes more challenges the rabbits gain a sort of reverence toward him and eventually as his cell becomes more and more decadent, he begins to gain a sort of celebrity status has he walks in and out of his cell to the music of his own personal parade.

The rabbits themselves however have to be some of the most beguiling “enemies” I’ve seen in recent memory. They’re supposed to be the main antagonists of the game, but most of the time their entire look, sound, and very behavior simply charms the crap out of you as you see different aspects of it throughout the minigames.

That marble maze minigame described above for instance started with a cutscene showing one bunny hitting another with a club, and the minigame itself taking place inside the victim’s brain with the marble representing an electrical signal and the maze representing the pathway through the bunny’s brain, showing how slowly bunnies supposedly react to pain.

Bottom Line
As a collection of simple minigames, Rayman Raving Rabbids is a pretty good showcase for some examples of what is possible through the Wii control interface despite the selection of games itself being spotty in its quality. This mixed with a quite strange presentation makes Raving Rabbits an undeniably fun game to play both alone an with friends.


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