Game: Rayman Raving Rabbids
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Year: 2006
Reviewed: 2008
Platform: PC
Genre: Action / Mini-games
Game Version: Unpatched
Reviewer: ValkyrDeath

Rayman Raving Rabbids was released on multiple platforms, but primarily it was designed for the Wii. The trouble with most Wii games isn’t the console itself, but rather the fact that lazy developers see the controller as a reason they don’t have to bother designing a proper game themselves, and that just relying on getting people to wave their arms around all over the place will count as fun. Unfortunately for them, some of us have a mental age above that of a five year old, and require something a bit more than that. Rayman Raving Rabbids is a good example of this shallowness of gameplay, and it especially emphasises just how little game there is there when isolated from the Wii remote.

So what we get is a series of trivial mini-games, most of which are very easy and completed in a minute or two. I don’t know whether they’re easier with the mouse than they would be with the Wii controller, but if they are, then that means the Wii just isn’t accurate enough yet. If it’s just as easy, then it makes this game even more pointless. The storyline surrounding it is also practically non-existent. Rayman is having a picnic and gets kidnapped by a bunch of insane rabbits…sorry, rabbids. They send him into an arena (with a crowd seemingly comprised of Rabbid sprites with about 4 frames of animation) and force him to play through a bunch of mostly inane mini-games. After he wins each set of five games, he wins a plunger, which he sticks on the wall of his cell to gradually build a ladder up to the window to escape. That’s the entire plot. As you can tell, it’s not a story based game.

Rayman Raving Rabbids FPS
The bunny version of Sam Fisher gets a plunger stuck to his face. Now I realise what was missing from Pandora Tomorrow!

The game does put more of an emphasis on comedy however, with mixed success. The game is amusing at times, although most of the time it’s rather tired slapstick comedy that never really works. To be fair, the humour could be aimed more at kids than at adults, although this doesn’t excuse the over-reliance on toilet humour. Other times the game might raise the occasional smile, although it never goes beyond mildly amusing.

Between each set of games, you get sent back to your cell, where you can do various things. You can change your outfit to one of the various weird costumes you’ve unlocked, meaning you get a different appearance for the five seconds you spend running through the arena to the next door. Or you can listen to one of the various awful in-game renditions of songs from the dancing mini-games. Or you can replay one of the games from the previous set. In other words, you get sent back to your cell and then go out again to play the next set of levels due to there being nothing actually worthwhile to do in there.

So what are the mini-games actually like? Why am I asking you? I’m supposed to be the one reviewing the game. Well, apart from the very occasional one, they’re mostly rubbish. In particular, there are a bunch of games that use the old style tried and detested gameplay that I thought we’d got rid of about two decades ago with those awful sports games. The ones that make you try to break your keyboard or joystick and possibly your hand by rapidly alternating buttons quickly to cause the character on screen to rapidly perform some completely unrelated task. In this case, you can also replace the button bashing with rapidly moving the mouse up and down instead. Either way, it seems more a combination of frustration and pain than anything even remotely approaching fun. Nearly all the games are really easy, as mentioned before, but of course, the very occasional ones that need to be repeated several times before you can beat them always end up being the most annoying ones in the game. In particular, there’s an awful, virtually impossible to control penalty taking football mini-game featuring a combination of the above mouse waggling, precision timing and attempts to fight the dreadful controls to try and aim the ball to create an experience unrivalled in its ability to irritate the player.

Rayman Raving Rabbids Teeth
Trying to get anything fun from this game is like pulling teeth.

Each time Rayman enters the arena, he is presented with four doors leading to different tasks. After completing each of these, a fifth bigger game opens up, the completion of which leads to Rayman going back to his cell with another plunger. The tasks can be tackled in any order, but the fourth of them is always a very simple rhythm dancing game. Each one uses just two buttons, and features streams of rabbits coming in from either side of the screen in time to the music. When they reach the platforms to either side of you, you press either the left or right button depending on which side they’re on to increase your score. There’s a bit more actual skill involved in this one, although it’s still not especially exciting, and they do have a tendency to go on a bit too long.

The bigger final game of each set is a bit more successful. Other than the occasional set which ends with a rather awkward to control race, these are nearly always an on-rails first person shooter segment, involving shooting plungers at bunnies in a variety of different settings. These are all extremely easy, and of the nine hearts of health you have for them, I never lost more than two, and it was usually only a few seconds before I came across an health crate to top it up again. But they’re actually fun, which is something missing from much of the rest of the game. They’re also quite funny, with references to other games such as rabbit versions of Sam Fisher rappelling down the screen on ropes. They’re simple but enjoyable, and if more of the games in the collection had been along these lines the game could actually have got a decent enough score for what it does. But there are just too many problems.

As if it wasn’t enough that many of the games are quite pointless, some of them seem to be fundamentally broken anyway. For instance, in one repulsive mini-game involving bunnies on a set of toilets where the doors slowly start to open and you have to slam them closed again quickly before they’ve opened completely, the controls didn’t seem to respond half the time, leading to several failed attempts just because I had to click on a door about five times to get it to register.

And the game is buggy in other ways. It doesn’t seem to be compatible with multi-core processors, since it only ran smoothly since I’d changed the affinity for the game in Task Manager. I’ve had this in other games, but not usually in games this recent, and not to this extreme, since in this case the game actually froze up several times while loading. It seemed like this was whenever I tried to load it while connected to the internet, which is a ridiculous bug for the game to have. Another time, I loaded the game only to find the resolution had reset itself to 640 X 480 for no apparent reason. And the whole game can be completed in less than five hours, unless you want to carry on replaying the games in one of the score modes to try and beat your last high score. I certainly didn’t.

So the game gets a low score, and what it does get is mostly for the FPS sequences and the presentation. It’s a shame there weren’t more games like that amongst the various mini-games, since then it could at least have been a fun experience overall, but as it is, it’s just not worthwhile.

Save System Review: The game only saves after each set of five games. Fortunately they’re nearly all easy and short, but I’d rather save after each one so I don’t run the risk of having to replay one all over again if I don’t have time to finish the full set.
Graphics: The graphics are actually nicely done in a cartoonish style, poorly animated cardboard cut-out crowds aside.
Sound: The sound isn’t badly done for a game of this type, with cartoony sound effects and music. But it is quite annoying at times.
Bugs: Some pretty bad bugs, as mentioned in the main body of the review, from random resolution resetting to crashing on startup.
Gameplay: A few entertaining on-rails FPS sequences, but a lot of pointless nonsense that’s neither fun nor funny to play.
Storyline: Rayman is kidnapped by rabbids, plays some mini-games and then escapes. That’s it.

Arbitrary Final Score: 1 star

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