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Rayman Raving Rabbids Box Art
Rayman Raving Rabbids
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Rayman Raving Rabbids: 24.99
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Rayman Raving Rabbids - Review
Written by James Hobbs

I wasn't particularly pleased when I first found out that Rayman Raving Rabbids, originally an interesting-sounding platformer, was being morphed into a party game. The original concept involved using the Wii Remote and Nunchuck as pseudo-fists, and it had the potential to be rather exciting indeed, as opposed to being just another party game. I'm very pleased to say that, in many ways, Rayman is much more than just another party game.

Rayman Raving Rabbids Screenshot
Tenacious little shits
The most noticable feature of Rayman, upon booting it up, is the bizarre humour and storyline. The entirely trivial plot revolves around evil rabbits kidnapping Rayman and his frog-like chums, resulting in you having to battle your way through various mini-games in order to escape with your fellow prisoners. The rabbits are simutaneously hilarious and disturbing, and most of the games are so absurdly weird that you can't help but laugh. For example, one of the games requires you to pull worryingly jovial worms out of the rotting, hideous teeth of a bunny - if you fail to rip them out in time, you are rewarded with a disgusting close-up of the worms slithering back into the gums. I had no idea the French could be so funny.

In many ways, Rayman excels, and is an excellent showcase for Wii. The controls for most of the games are absolutely perfect, most notably the 'on-rails' shooting sections - think Time Crisis, but with the bullets substituted for plungers. The control system is fantastic, and makes full use of the nunchuck and the Wii remote. Aiming is a positive joy, and your actions have consequences - you can shoot down a bridge, detonate mines, and even activate ghetto blasters to get the bunnies dancing, allowing you to summarily execute them. Other developers should take note - Michael Ansel's team at Ubisoft France could very well have illustrated a genre that Wii is perfectly suited for.

Whilst some of the games are graphically fairly simple, one game stands out particularly - the skydiving game. The graphics are some of the best we've seen from Wii, with a seemingly unlimited draw distance and a marvellous sense of scale as you topple from the sky right down to the ground. The mountainous landscape looks suitably epic, and little touches such as rabbits dangling from UFOs and runaway trains add a touch of comedy. The only graphical letdown in the game is in the 'Story mode' hub - the animated rabbits in the crowd look incredibly ropey.

The other games are also very imaginatively designed. In the main 'Story Mode,' the games are divided up into categories, ranging from the surprisingly addictive disco dancing to smashing rabbits on the head with a spade. There are far too many games to go into here, but nearly all of them are entertaining, challenging, and very often physically exhausting. Whilst the story mode is somewhat tedious, featuring uncessary, repetitive cutscenes, the multiplayer-enabled 'Score mode' is excellent fun, particularly in a group.

As a game, Rayman is definitely best enjoyed with friends. 'Story mode' took us a matter of hours to beat with 100%, and whilst there are unlockable bonus videos and other content in 'Score mode,' the game won't present too much of a challenge for those with enough bloody-mindedness to get on with it. Some of the games do seem brain-clenchingly difficult at first, but it's usually a matter of perseverance before they can be beaten. The real appeal of the game, is the multiplayer. It's genuinely fun to compete against your friends, and thanks to the nature of a lot of the minigames there is not a great margin for error.

After considerable play, Rayman may start to collect dust on your shelf until the next oppurtunity to play in a group comes along. There is only so much of beating your own score any gamer can take, and whilst the games do exhibit a large amount of sadistic charm, they simply don't have the replay value unless you have a friend to compete with. Despite this, Rayman has made me laugh more than any game I've played in recent years, and the sublime execution and presentation of the game makes it worth the price.

The verdict:

Insane humour, some disturbingly innovative ideas, and an overwhelming sense of fun make Rayman.. rather silly. But worth it. Check it out.


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