When Ubisoft decided to dust off Rayman, a mid-level character with very little public awareness, they knew they needed a new nemesis for the limbless hero. The developers came up with the idea of the Rabbids: manic, gibberish-talking, dance-obsessed creatures that weren't exactly malevolent, but their unhinged nature makes them unintentionally dangerous. The funny thing was that as more and more Rayman games came out on the Wii, the audience began ignoring the hero and found themselves infatuated with the Rabbids. Now the psychotic bunnies are starring in their very own game, finally eclipsing the one whose coattails they rode in on. It's kind of like when Kim Kardashian became more famous than Paris Hilton, except of course the Rabbids have more talent than both of those airheads combined.
In Rabbids Go Home, our new heroes decide that it's time to leave Earth and head to the moon, where they can finally frolic and nap in peace. Of course, the critters don't exactly have the strongest grasp on interstellar travel, but they assume that as long as they create a big enough pile of junk, they'll eventually be able to simply climb to the top and then hop on over to the lunar surface. With this foolproof plan in place, the Rabbids set out to collect all the planet's junk and bring it to one centralized location, much to the chagrin of the humans who rather like all their junk right where it is.
The gameplay of Rabbids Go Home is mostly straightforward and hearkens back lovingly to the collect-a-thons of old. Your team of two bunnies and a shopping cart go around each stage grabbing just about anything they can get their hands on, and most times, your end goal is to make your way across the stage and snag one particularly large item that you can then flush down the toilet to assist in your lunar aspirations. Things aren't quite as simple as that, though, because before long, the humans grow weary of your thievery and begin to fight back. The ensuing conflicts aren't too difficult, but it is funny to watch humanity slap together a haphazard defense plan involving rubber suits and guard dogs and then be utterly shocked when the plan doesn't work.
From time to time, the game tries to break up the monotony of item collecting by introducing gimmick stages that force you to play a different way. Some stages are timed or feature a race, while others become tricky platforming affairs. There are even a few occasions when you'll race through an airport while riding a jet engine, which is something I've always wanted to try out. Unfortunately, these special levels are few and far between, and even when you happen across one, more often than not it plays out very similarly to all the others. Thus, repetition may well be this game's biggest weakness, as after you've seen about a dozen levels, you've pretty much seen them all. Even so, most of the stages are quite enjoyable, and you may not mind that you're being asked to do essentially the same thing over and over again.
One gameplay extra that will likely take your mind off of the title's repetitive nature is the customization and other extra fun to be had with the Rabbids. Between levels, you can suck one of your bunnies into the Wiimote and alter his appearance in any number of ways. You can mess with the size of his eyes and ears, stick a saw through his head, give him a tattoo, and even paint the fuzzball bright orange. The possibilities are basically endless, and those really invested in the process can download a special Wii channel that will allow them to share their creations with others and download other players' critters. If you're the type of gamer who loves to play around with character customization, this is a title that can really be a blast.
In addition, once you're done playing dress-up, you can mess with the Rabbid inside your remote, all in real time. Shake the controller, and the bunny goes bouncing around uncontrollably; push a button, and he'll run over to check out what's going on. You can even snag a loose wire inside the controller and use it to tickle him with electric shocks. What makes the whole experience so impressive is that it's totally separated from the main game, and yet it's about as fully fleshed-out and entertaining as can be. This wasn't some stupid extra thrown in on a whim; this was a full-fledged design choice that proves to be a ton of fun when you're looking for a distraction.
Rabbids Go Home also features production values above and beyond expectations, proving yet again that Ubisoft doesn't look at this title as a cash-in, but rather as a franchise in its own right. Humans and canines are intentionally blocky, but it works in a very artistic way. Also, the game will frequently cut to a scene in the middle of levels where the Rabbids grab a recently collected piece of detritus and engage in some sort of funny interaction. Whether they're screaming into an answering machine or getting squid stuck on their heads, these moments almost never fail to elicit a smile. They do start to repeat eventually, though, and the gags aren't quite as funny the second (or third) time around.
The game's visual humor is augmented by some pretty amusing audio as well. Humans will run screaming from the Rabbids and hilariously beg for their lives, while the slightly menacing PA announcer pops up from time to time and delivers some deliciously funny lines that are dripping with dry humor. Combined with the happy-go-lucky licensed music and frantic brass band tracks, all of this sets the perfect mood for this zany adventure.
In a nutshell, Rabbids Go Home is an incredibly entertaining game that's almost sure to please ... if you can get past its repetitive nature. This game is a big ball of goofy fun, and I truly hope that this is just the first in a long line of Rabbid-centric adventures. Just as I don't need Paris Hilton now that I have Kim Kardashian, I no longer need Rayman; the Rabbids will suit my gaming needs just fine.
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