Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 Review
Although Rayman Raving Rabbids was my pick for the best Wii launch game (no - not Zelda - I don't want to talk about it), I am not sure that the world is ready for a sequel already. It's a year later now, and Ubisoft Paris has brought back those wascally wabbids again, this time with an invasion to Earth! Rayman seems have pretty much joined them after his imprisonment by the rabbids last year, and now gets to run around like an idiot with them and do all kinds of hilarious things in a series of ridiculous mini-games. And while the developers have done an excellent job trying to breathe new life into the series, they might have developed themselves into a corner with their crazy characters, as even with all the new stuff to do this one still feels a little too familiar.
At the heart of Raving Rabbids 2 is the collection of mini-games that you and up to three other players can jump into. Bring your Wiimotes and Nunchuks, as most games require both for each player. From delivering towering, toppling sandwiches to a big fat Rabbid, to throwing spitballs at a teacher and snitching on each other, to screwing off at work while avoiding the boss, the game takes all the wackiness of the first and transplants it into an Earth setting. Actually, there don't seem to be any people anywhere, so maybe Rayman and the Rabbids actually totally took over the Earth - yep, this might be the cartooniest, silliest post-apocalyptic game you've ever played.
And that comes through in the games rail-shooter levels, of which there are several matched to the game's cities, like New York and Paris. The developers went and filmed real footage roaming through these cities, then the game animates Rabbids running around and has you aim the Wiimote at them and shoot them. While this style of game was made popular in the arcades with games like Operation Wolf and Area 51, Rabbids 2 returns to true form by having video stream off of the disc while the game is played kind of superimposed on top. Overall, these shooter games are just as much fun as last time.
But it's not all shooting, as the mini-games and music games make up the majority of time you'll spend in Rabbids 2. One issue with these is that they're a ton of fun with friends, but they lose a lot of their charm when you're playing alone - even more so than in the first game. This is usually just because of the way the mini-games work; a lot of them have built in some kind of way to screw up your opponents which is awesome against other people, but since the single player game only has you playing for score and screwing up the AI-controlled Rabbids doesn't help you, it's just not nearly as much fun. So while this game is more fun with friends than the first, it's also less fun than the first game when you're playing alone. This wouldn't be such a bad thing, but the Wii already has a ton of four-player party games, and with each one that comes out, it should be
Even the music games seem to be missing something. You'll still be flicking either the Wiimote or the Nunchuk to the beat, but now you actually get something closer to actual notes - possibly as a nod to Guitar Hero - and then get a few sections where you wildly fling the controllers around. You get to choose one of four "instruments", one of them being the vocals, but they all play pretty similarly. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think that taking the feel of these music games further towards the more conventional music games was the right idea. The first Rabbids was delightfully zany with not only the music choices but how these parts were played, and while the music choices are just as fun and weird here, the way you play the notes isn't as fun as before. Yeah, four players can go at it at the same time, but it's just not enough fun to pull people away from games like Wii Sports or Mario Party.
While I commend the developers at Ubisoft for trying to do new and original things in this sequel - one that comes only a year after its predecessor - it seems that the Rayman Raving Rabbids idea just isn't quite good enough for a real franchise. The crazy little Rabbids were really funny the first time, but they're just not nearly as entertaining this time around. What's left are some great mini-games, but only if you've got three or four people all going at it. Bonuses like like being able to customize the look of Rayman and the Rabbids, configuring a "trip" of your favorite mini-games, and uploading your scores to an online leaderboard fun little additions, but Rabbids 2 still just isn't quite enough to be a worthy sequel. It was fun, Ubisoft, but I don't think this one has the legs to become a yearly franchise.