Thursday , April 18 2024
Those wascally waving wabbids get a starring vehicle (a shopping cart) on the Wii.

Nintendo Wii Review: Rabbids Go Home

Rabbids, originally introduced in the Rayman series of videogames, are, essentially demented little anthropomorphic rabbits.  They're less than intelligent, less than cunning, terribly violent, and sometimes mean creatures.  They're also ridiculously funny things.

The Rabbids  latest adventure, Rabbids Go Home, features the bunny-esque bullies attempting to build a massive pile of junk so that they can go home, to the moon.  Is the moon their home?  Does it matter?  Is it possible to build a massive pile of junk big enough to climb there?  Does it matter?  Were one to attempt to build a pile of junk big enough to go to said home on the moon would they pile all that junk up in a shopping cart in order to give it to a sousaphone-playing Rabbid to hold onto, except for the really big stuff which they would instead shove directly into a toilet, then putting the sousaphone-held garbage into the same toilet in order to get all the stuff back to the junkyard where the pile is being built?  Does it matter?

For the Rabbids, such a series of actions is wholly logical, or, at the very least, as logical as the Rabbids get.  And that, is where the player comes into this game.  Users get to help two Rabbids steer their shopping cart through various parts of Center City and its outskirts, throwing all the stuff with a white circle around it into the shopping cart.  Anything without a white circle – people, dogs, vending machines, etc., – get yelled at or run into or both in an attempt to separate collectible items (like the dogs themselves, once they're docile) from non-collectible ones.  It is a pretty simple concept, with pretty simple gameplay mechanics.

Every level contains 1,000 feet of junk, comprised of small items and larger ones.  Levels can be completed only by getting the big stuff,  however, it's still recommended that one grab little stuff as well in order to actually build a large enough pile to help the Rabbids achieve their moderately-insane task.  The more feet of junk one collects, the more levels get opened, and the closer the Rabbids can come to… goodness knows what sort of reality.

Okay, so it's all insane, the real question is – is it fun; is it enjoyable to take these wacky little creatures through shopping malls, grocery stores, airports, office buildings, hospitals, etc., in order to get junk (like sick people in their hospital beds) to build the moon-bound pile?  Sometimes.

Shopping cart physics are not the easiest thing to piece together, and having rabid fluffy creatures drive shopping carts around make them that much more complicated.  Using the Wii remote and the nunchuk, players drive the shopping carts up walls, down ramps, and out windows, usually with great results.  It is possible (once players advance far enough in the game) to turbo boost andthereby have even more high-flying fun.  However, things are not always rosy in the Rabbid world.  All too often, angles of jumps one has to hit are slightly tricky and made all the more difficult by poor and unalterable camera angles.  Where exactly in midair is that bird with the white circle one needs to get?  When the ramp one has to hit at a precise angle in order to get the bird puts the bird off-screen, it can be exceedingly difficult, and all too frustrating, to judge. 

The levels are essentially linear, and while that is fine, problems result when the player is presented with two paths – one of which leads to a dead-end with junk in it and the other of which advances one (in a one-way direction) towards the end of the level – and it isn't clear which path does what.  The first time through players will miss collecting all the bits of junk they need and miss a perfect score, simply because given a 50-50 choice with no clues, they chose the wrong path first.

That problem, though is, small in comparison to the way the game treats a player's death.  Some objects and enemies – like the evil Verminators – can hurt the Rabbids, eliminating their life (displayed as three light bulbs), and falling off the side of a building means instant death.  Rather than the game putting the player back to the last point where they dropped off their junk, or back at the beginning of the level, they're placed at some random checkpoint and without however many hundreds of feet of junk they may have had in their shopping cart at the time.  As the levels tend to be uni-directional, one can't simply go back and get whatever stuff they may have picked up before hitting that checkpoint.  Instead, players must complete the level and then go back and play it through again from the beginning in order to better their garbage-getting tally.

A second player can join in on the fun, but their job consists solely of pointing at extra junk and thereby adding it to the cart.  In a game that otherwise seems to have been thought out very well, the second player aspect adds very little.  The game features no other real multiplayer, except if one counts the ability to customize their Rabbids, which, beside making them playable in customized form within the game, also allows them to be uploaded with Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connect via a Rabbids Channel where contests are held to determine the best-looking Rabbids.

Graphically, the game looks good, but certainly not great.  Objects are drawn very simply, are bright, and easily definable.  Edges tend to not be as rounded as one might believe they should be, but don't detract and have a certain sense of style.  Cutscenes come in several forms, one of which is more comic-book cartoony, and which are a great deal of fun to watch.  Other cutscenes however stick with the game's main graphical style and look far less good.  They seem to be not-quite-fully rendered, with odd lines and jump cuts breaking up the action.  The truly unfortunate part of this is that some of the cutscenes with this problem occur at the end of every single level.

Different levels of Rabbids Go Home alter the basic gameplay slightly, and this is where the game is really at its best.  Whether the change involves time limits, driving around an airplane engine instead of a shopping cart, or some other little or change, it are the variations on the theme that make the game so playable.  However, when some levels fail to provide an interesting variation, the game, which is not terribly difficult to begin with, falls flat. It makes for an uneven experience, one with high highs and low lows, and hurts the overall impression of a game which could have been great.


Rabbids Go Home is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, and Tobacco Reference. This game can also be found on: Nintendo DS.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.

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