Filled with wildly funny inventive characters, mini-games that would land you a death sentence if they were real and a simple design, Rayman's latest outing should come together nicely.
As with any mini-game collection since Wario Ware, each play becomes a small game that either works or fails miserably. Raving Rabbids suffers from a plethora of annoyances that makes it difficult to get into, in addition to the failing games.
Starting as a simple yet stunning platformer back on the Atari Jaguar and then splitting onto countless other consoles, Rayman is an undervalued creation of Michael Ancel, and has somehow ended up here. Gone are the days of millions of colors on screen, now replaced by bleak stages littered with dark humor.
The series has turned into various genres over the years, but has seemingly forgotten any of its roots. The only direct control over Rayman is when you're moving into the next mini-game inside an arena to perform for the Rabbids. These sick, priceless and totally expendable critters are the best use of cute bunnies since Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Rayman has become their only source of entertainment after he's captured, and they'll abuse him in countless ways for their amusement.
This leads into 70+ mini-games that require a wide variety of moves to conquer. Each "day" in the arena lasts four games, and you need to conquer at least three to move on. While not exceptionally difficult, the Wii Remote can lead to some tiring and flat out ridiculous motions (don't ask) to complete the task at hand. Lose and you need to start from scratch.
There are some inventive uses for the new control set up and each is commendable. A Rabbid appears on screen before the next test to let you know the requirements. As they're unlocked, you can also take part in multi-player matches for a maximum of four people.
Losing due to your own mistakes is fine. Failing when the controls sputter is another. In fact, some games can prove impossible to pass without luck as the Nunchuk or Remote simply doesn't respond accurately or in time. There are some genuinely fiendish games that pose a significant challenge and being forced to restart because of a single missed motion is unacceptable. It's far too common to be a passing annoyance.
Everything else in Raving Rabbids is fine for the most part. The vast majority of the games are enjoyable, and with a few friends, this can become an absolute blast. However, there's a sense that this has nothing to do with Rayman at all. His name and likeness are here purely for marketing reasons. He (it?) feels out of place and is slowly turning into a creation that cannot end up back where he should be. The Rabbids completely overshadow him here.
The world, the design and the concept are in place. Raving Rabbids can never pick up enough momentum to have a chance though. All the potential is wasted on a somewhat derivative idea that could have worked a few years ago, but now it's all wasted opportunity. The Wii technology is utilized better elsewhere, and that's where you should be.
Rayman: Raving Rabbids is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Cartoon Violence and Comic Mischief. This game can also be found on: GBA, PC, PS2, Xbox 360.