Rabbids Go Home Review
Ubisoft's Rabbids series has treaded a similar critical path as the LEGO games. Both franchises were adored when they debuted, cited as original and inspired entries that mixed addictive gameplay with silly humor. Then, with each passing sequel, gamers began to grow tired of these franchises' familiar formulas as their original charms began to wear increasingly thin. The third Rabbids' entry,Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party saw gamers sitting on their Wii Balance Boards, controlling the action with their asses. Yes, it was indeed time to brainstorm some new ideas for the googly eyed rabbits.
This season, while the LEGO series has delivered yet another plastic stud collect-athon, the Rabbids have thankfully gotten a reboot. For starters, you'll notice the limbless star's no longer listed at the top of the title. In fact, Rayman is no where to be found in Rabbids Go Home. This makes perfect sense, though, as the bizarre bunnies stole the spotlight from him mere minutes into the first game. But dropping Rayman from the franchise, and giving the stage entirely to the Rabbids, is only the beginning. You see, unlike previous entries, Rabbids Go Home is not a mini-game collection, but a full-on, story-driven adventure. Sure, the story is an intentionally thin, silly backdrop existing solely to complement the Rabbids anarchy-fueled antics, but it's still refreshing to see these inspired characters used for something besides party game fodder.
In a game that can only be described as a bizarre platformer/racer/action hybrid, the Rabbids—who are now apparently from the Moon—go on a shopping spree of sorts, collecting items Katamari-style to build a makeshift ladder back to their home planet. Yes, their plan is to climb from the Earth to the Moon on a towering pile of junk. And by “junk”, I mean everything and anything—from cows to cars—the hilarious little fuzzy creatures can get their greedy little mitts on. Aiding their madcap quest is a shopping cart, which they race around in and use to collect the items they need to fulfill their lunar quest.
The player controls the cart with the nunchuk, intuitively hurtling through a variety of stylized environments. Like De Blob and, more recently, Ghostbusters on the Wii, Rabbids' presentation plays to the console's strengths, keeping things cartoony rather than realistic. The result is one of the Wii's coolest looking titles; simple, yet effective backgrounds and some impressive visual tricks never overwhelm the action, instead keeping the focus squarely on the titular furry menaces. From airports to grocery stores, all the environments are inspired and memorable and, of course, filled with junk for you to collect and obstacles to avoid. While racing around in your cart, you'll frantically steer to avoid crashes, soar over ramps, and pull impossible jumps. The blend of gathering items, while tearing through the levels, provides endlessly frenzied fun. In addition to the basic gameplay, you'll also be tasked with a variety of mini challenges and objectives that are paced perfectly with the item-collection.
When you're not stealing humans' material possessions and literally scaring them down to their skivvies—Earthlings just don't appreciate the Rabbids' unique sense of humor—you can vacuum your critters into your WiiRemote. Yup, in one of the most bizarre, but entertaining gameplay scenarios I've ever experienced, you can suck the Rabbids into an on-screen model of a WiiRemotes interior; shake the controller, and your psychotic bunny will be jostled against the circuitry, buttons, and other parts of the gamepad. In this mode, you can also customize your characters, but it's really just fun to torture them by waggling the Wii wand.
Despite its endless charm and addictive gameplay, Rabbids stumbles in a few areas. For one, as engaging as the genre-spanning play is, there are tons of levels, and the last third of the adventure begins to feel a bit repetitive. This isn't helped by the fact the game isn't especially challenging; it's accessible to all, which is great, but more experienced gamers may grow bored of a playing field that mostly remains flat. While reaching top speed in your Rabbid-piloted shopping cart, you'll also run into some camera frustrations. Mixing objectives requiring precise timing with a finicky angle of the action will put a frown on your face no matter how funny it is witnessing your Rabbids' demise.
Overall, though, Rabbids Go Home is a fun, often hilarious reboot of a franchise that desperately needed one. By not shoe-horning in Rayman, dropping the mini-game format, and crafting an enjoyable hybrid of the medium's most engaging styles—complemented by a spirited audio and visual presentation—Ubisoft has managed to deliver one of the Wii's best offerings in recent memory. LEGO's blocky heroes could learn a thing or two from these chaos-causing bunny rabbits.