Rayman Raving Rabbids starts out simple enough. Video game star Rayman is having a picnic with some frog-type creatures, called the Globox, when their meal is interrupted by an earthquake. One by one, the Globox are pulled underground and replaced with Rabbids, small rabbit-like creatures with buckteeth that like to scream. Before Rayman can offer them a hotdog, he is snatched up by an insanely large Rabbid named Sergui and is hauled off to an arena where he is subjected to a series of trials and tests which he must complete.
If you haven't figured it out yet, RRR is a party game. It's a collection of 75 mini-games that test the player's speed, dexterity and control, but unlike most party games, RRR has enough quirks and a dark enough sense of humor to maintain a great single-player experience. The game follows Rayman over 15 days as he is thrown into every imaginable scenario for the amusement of the Rabbids in attendance. He tosses cows, draws food and hits Rabbids with a shovel, just to name a few.
Each day gives Ray the choice of four smaller mini-games. After he completes at least three of them, a fifth larger mini-game opens up, which Ray must complete to save one of the Globox. After that, Ray is hauled back to his cell, where he can change into costumes he's unlocked, play songs he's unlocked on his jukebox or play the mini-games from the previous days. When he's ready, he can go to the door and request more trials, and the whole experience starts over.
Now that we have the formula down, let's talk a little bit about the mini-games in RRR. They're really well done, and they're fun and engaging, but they don't really seem suited for a party atmosphere. I'll get more in-depth a little later, but know that many of the games require you to take turns in multiplayer mode, which kind of ruins it.
However, for the most part, the mini-games are fun and play well, and there are a lot of them. Although the packaging advertises "over 70 different mini-games," I would have to take exception to this, since a few are just rehashes of previous ones, with a few small differences thrown in. The mini-games may be technically different, but they still feel the same, so this would set the number a bit closer to 55 or 60, which is still a respectable amount.
What's even better is that out of those 60 mini-games, every single one is different. Ray has to do all sorts of crazy stuff; in one level, he may be pulling worms out of a Rabbid's dental work, while another level may have him leading a dance of nine Rabbids to a high-pitched version of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." The title never really stops shaking things up, and I spent the entire single-player experience wondering what kind of mini-game they would throw at me next.
However, not all of the mini-games got it right. As previously mentioned, a larger mini-game opens up after you complete three of the four mini-games in a day. This can be one of two types: a first-person rail shooter, where you walk through a level and shoot plungers at any Rabbids that get in your way; or a race on a warthog. The races have a kind of Mario Kart feel to them, and they're short but sweet. The rail shooter levels were where I started to lose interest because they are about five to six minutes long, which is an eternity when compared to the other mini-games, which are no more than a minute long. The rail shooter levels seem to really slow things down, and I think RRR suffers for that. That being said, you really only have to complete about eight of these and then never again, so it's all right. It's a minor complaint about a system that, otherwise, does its job very, very well.
RRR doesn't take itself seriously, and the humor is really the best part of the experience. The Rabbids are cute and over-reactive in a funny way, and the mini-games can include hilarious goals such as getting enough speed on a railway cart to see how far you can launch a Rabbid dressed as Superman, or kicking a soccer ball and accidentally kicking the Rabbid referee into the net. It's stuff like this that makes the title seem fresh with every single mini-game. Ubisoft really nailed the perfect blend of humor and fun.
The controls also seem pretty tight and were mapped to the 360 controller very well. I never played the original RRR for the Wii, but a lot of the mini-games involve moving a pointer around and clicking on stuff, so you can certainly see how the Wiimote and motion sensors would have suited the game design. At times, the analog sticks seem almost too sensitive, and you overshoot what you were aiming for, but it's a rare occurrence and in most other instances, the controls work fine.
There is support for the Xbox Live Vision camera, but I could not get it to work correctly for long periods of time. It's only available on a portion of the mini-games, and it doesn't seem too responsive when you do play a mini-game that uses it. I did find a couple of the mini-games that worked really well, and they were certainly fun, but I would stick with the controller for most of the offerings.
The graphics in RRR are great. Ubisoft chose a very cartoony look for the title, which is a good thing, considering that the main character doesn't have any arms or legs. The Rabbids are cute and furry, and the levels look crisp and clear. There were a few moments in which the FMV slowed down a bit, which is weird, because there wasn't really anything on the screen that would tax the 360's power. I assume that it's a remnant from the Wii version and Ubisoft chose not to re-render it. Other than that, I don't really have any complaints.
There's not a ton of background music, and when it's on, it's just there, and you don't really notice it. Where the music really shines is in the rhythm-based mini-games. RRR features remixed versions of seven different songs, including "La Bamba" and the Greek classic "Misirlou." All of the remixes have strong pronounced bass beats, which are required to complete the rhythm games. While I don't see you sitting and listening to them in your free time, it does show that the game makers didn't do a half-way job. They thought about the rhythm games and adapted the music to make the most enjoyable experience they could, and it shows. Even someone without rhythm should have no problem playing these mini-games.
In terms of replayability, RRR really hits the mark. In addition to the single-player Story mode, there is also a Score mode in which you go back and replay the mini-games and try to achieve the highest score you can. The more points you get, the more bonus material you unlock, including artwork and videos. It's a nice little feature that can extend the game indefinitely if you're a completist.
Score mode is also where you pull in friends to play through the mini-games with you. This leads to my first real complaint: in order to play the mini-games in Score mode, you must unlock them in Story mode first. To me, this is a big no-no for a party game, which should be ready to multi-play right out of the box. However, Story mode only takes about five hours to complete, so it doesn't take too long to unlock all of the mini-games fro play in Score mode, and the humor certainly makes you want to play through it.
My only other complaint is the multiplayer mode. As mentioned before, I have a real problem with the idea of taking turns when my friends and I play a party game. The only good part of taking turns is trying to best your friend's score, which just seems weak compared to other entries into the party game genre, which allow you to play at the same time.
The biggest surprise I found in RRR was the utter lack of Xbox Live support: there's no online multiplayer, no scoreboards, nothing. It's sad, because this game would work so well in the Live atmosphere. As it is, it's primarily an offline experience, and that hurts it a bit.
Overall, Rayman Raving Rabbids for the X360 is an excellent addition to any party game collection, and fans of the genre will find tons of stuff to do. They will also get a kick out of the variety of mini-games and the copious amounts of humor. Multiplayer mode is there but a little weak, and the lack of Xbox Live support for even an online scoreboard seems like an odd move. Fans of the Wii version might want to stay away due to the remapped controls, but everyone else should prepare for a solid, fun (albeit offline) experience that is simple, fun and gets the job done.
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