Yeah, it's true: Rabbids Go Home -- what Ubisoft dubs a 'comedy adventure' -- is from Michel Ancel and the Beyond Good & Evil team. These guys also made King Kong and the original Rayman Raving Rabbids mini-game fest, but don't confuse Rabbids Go Home because it's an altogether different beast -- the result of a big development team and nearly three years of hard work. You won't find any minis or waggle competitions in the stylistic effort, which encapsulates an engaging and humorous blend of platformer, racer and collection quest. What you will find is a winning presentation, satisfying level designs, tight controls, and and endless stream of items to pick up. Really, truly endless -- a potential turn off.
In Rabbids Go Home, you take control of Rabbids as they push and ride inside of a grocery cart. They've invaded a sprawling city in search of all kinds of material stuff -- cars, pianos, cows, and the list goes on indefinitely -- that they can steal and then stack into a big junk pile leading to the moon. They want to create a tower to Earth's closest neighbor so that they can climb to the satellite, where they hope to sleep undisturbed. The story, which is downright silly if not altogether stupid, is told via pre-rendered cut-scenes using in-game assets and the Rabbids themselves (with their crazy spinning eyes and screams) are as hilarious today as they were when Wii launched. The setup gives the developer plenty of opportunities to put the demented creatures and their wacky antics in the spotlight with funny results.
Click on the image above to watch gameplay footage
Ubisoft Montpellier has with Rabbids Go Home really played to the strengths of Nintendo's console. The game is ultra-stylized, adhering to pleasing visual makeup inspired by the industrial revolution that took place between the '40s and '70s, a marriage of minimalism and art deco. The locations the Rabbids explore, from simple buildings to airports, factories, and government labs, are flat and intentionally sterile, designed to showcase the boring normality and routine of humans in contrast to the whimsically psychotic nature of the starring creatures. Ubisoft has brought the worlds to life with great art and truckloads of effects, from cel-shading to real-time lighting to refractions, warped heat distortions, water transparency and reflections, robust particle systems for explosions and sparkles, and more. The aesthetic package is fabulous and the the fluidity generally holds strong.
The title boasts an incredible and dynamic soundtrack that perfectly complements the on-screen action. As you roll through an assortment of grocery stores, landfills, wilderness parks and more, you'll notice that music plays contextually depending upon where you are. Ubi has drawn upon a lot of classics from the likes of artists like John Denver to play over the loudspeakers as you scream through grocery stores. Meanwhile, the Rabbids themselves sometimes play fast jazz complete with a variety of horns and drums that is just as over-the-top and colorful as the game. It all works very well, the only drawback being that you will sometimes encounter music-less quiet zones, which detracts from the ambience of the title.
The Raving Rabbids titles convinced me that Ubisoft's furballs are far more interesting and funny than Rayman, so it comes as no surprise that the limbless hero is nowhere to be found in this adventure. Rather, the comedic talents of the Rabbids are used to full effect by way of in-level gags -- the little creatures latch onto objects like radios or dolls and then beat them about while screaming -- polished cinematics or out-of-stage bonuses. The developer has included the wonderful ability to literally suck your Rabbids inside of a fully modeled 3D Wii remote and play with or customize them to your liking. If you shake your controller around, your Rabbid will go bouncing off the innards of the B-trigger, D-Pad or A button. If you twist the controller, he'll fall upside down. And so on. Meanwhile, you can add a variety of odd hats and items, distort their eyes and ears, color them, place tattoos and accessories, and more, and you'll probably giggle through the entire process. It's a very clever addition.
There are, however, a few presentational missteps. First, the team has created a pre-rendered sequence that shows the Rabbids sliding down a sewer system as a means to mask load times, which are plentiful. The loads last 15 seconds and separate the big, interactive hub world from all the levels and the same is true of the Rabbid editor. Not a big deal as you make your way through the first dozen stages but the more you see it, the more it wears on you. Second, as you progress the game, there's not much of an arch where narrative and challenge are concerned. The story doesn't go anywhere. You pop into levels, you collect a bunch of junk and scare the pants -- literally -- off all the humans, but that's it. And as you advance you will inevitably notice that the difficulty never really grows more challenging. The result is an experience that feels somehow disconnected -- a series of levels strung together. It's all still fun, but it lacks flow and coherency, which is unfortunate. Finally, the title utilizes a fixed camera, which occasionally forces you to drive unintuitively toward the screen as you progress.
The game is relatively simple and straightforward, but enjoyable. Imagine a platformer married an action game and their baby had wheels. You control the Rabbids and their grocery cart fluidly with the nunchuk, speed through a series of unique and inspired locations, and collect stuff. Lots of stuff. Scare people and you'll knock their clothes off. Drop 'em in the cart. Scream at a trash can and its contents will litter the area. Into the cart it goes. Continue and repeat, endlessly. There are some 1,000 points per level and one big item that's worth about 600 points. Thus, you'll have to find the remaining 400 items in each of the dozens of stages if you want the highest score possible. Thankfully, you don't need to strive for perfection to complete the game, but doing so will definitely separate the novices from the pros.
The stages themselves feature a wealth of obstacles, ramps, jumps, tilting walkways, enemy fights and more and the the levels play differently from time to time. In some, you will need to race around on the top of a jet engine. In others, you will find yourself in an inner-tube. In another still, you must roll over toxic waste, which will temporarily illuminate the immediate foreground so that you can proceed. There's good variation, but as you go from a dozen areas to two or three times that, you will definitely notice some repetition, a mild issue. For example, you come back to the airport scenarios a few times throughout the adventure.
Click on the image above to watch a cinematic
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