A real party animal.
If you’re reading this, you probably don’t like watching other people play video games. Why? Because you’re better than they are, and every time they accidentally frag themselves, dive into a bottomless chasm, or get beaten to death by a fuzzy bunny, you go a little crazy on the inside. Like a parent compulsively reaching for a phantom break pedal during a teen driving lesson, your thumbs tap out a futile beat as they struggle to save the world with a control pad that isn’t there.
This also means you haven’t played Ubisoft’s new Rayman Raving Rabbids. Not only will you get a kick out of watching other people play it, you’ll look just as ridiculous as they do, guaranteed. Raving Rabbids is a party game that uses the Wiimote and Nunchuk in just about every way imaginable (and a few that are unimaginable) in a collection of about seventy mini games. It isn’t a whole lot of fun to play by yourself, but with a few friends and a lot of alcohol, Raving Rabbids can quickly become the life of any party.
The games themselves are simple yet twisted, and take advantage of pretty much every function and button on the Wiimote. One of my personal favorites is a soccer mini-game in which you whip the two halves of the nunchuk up and down to make Rayman run, press ‘A’ to kick, and then guide the kicked rabbid (it looks like a grotesque rabbit) to a corner of the goal by pointing at it with the Wiimote. Another has you yanking worms from a rabbid’s rotten teeth, while probably the most disturbing one of all has you bashing a rabbid in the head with a hammer, then watching in horror (and anticipation) as a huge pink erection of a knot grows out of his head, and through the roof of the theater.
If you think that sounds weird, you should see it in action. Most of the games require vigorous motions, like the cow toss, where you spin the Wiimote like a lasso, and then press ‘A’ to launch the cow. To win, you have to throw the beast far, so you can’t just twirl the Wiimote with your wrist; you need to stand up, bend your knees, raise your arm like a cowboy and whip it, whip it good. Now, remove yourself from this picture and insert a girl, grandparent, drunken friend, or all of the above, and you should begin to see why this is such a great party game. The in-game action is okay, but the out-of-game action is the best since drunken Twister.
Still, it isn’t every night you have your grandma, a cute girl and a drunken friend over for beer and video games, and this is where Raving Rabbids falls a little short. The story revolves around the Rabbids, who kidnap Rayman and his little froggy friends, then force them to compete in a bunch of mini-games.
So you basically find yourself, as Rayman, standing in an arena with four open doors and a giant, closed gate. Each door leads to a mini game, and if you beat three of them the gate opens to a challenge that is either a fun rail-shooter, or an awful racing game. After you beat that, you’re taken to your cell, where you can change clothes, then you’re back to the arena and four new doors, and a new closed gate. You repeat the process roughly a dozen times, and that’s the single player game.
It’s incredibly repetitive, and that isn’t even taking into account at least three different versions of whack-a-mole, a million iterations of a dull rhythm game, and several that simply ask you to shake the Wiimote up and down as fast as possible. You won’t want to beat the Story mode, but you’ll feel compelled to because the only games you can play with friends are ones you’ve beaten as a single player. That’s not a deal breaker, it just shows the developers didn’t quite have their priorities straight.
And the single player game is playable, just not for large chunks of time. If you beat all four challenges before heading through a gate, you either unlock a music track or new clothing options, and the latter actually make you want to play more, just to see Rayman compete in a moo moo or Elvis suit. Also, the rail shooters that end every other stage are hilarious. Shooting rabbids with plungers never gets old.
And neither does the game’s deranged aesthetic. The rabbids are cute and creepy at the same time, and the settings are all well designed and populated by weird characters, like the giant cow statue in the rope jumping mini game. The soundtrack includes a few solid licensed tracks, like Dick Dale’s Misirlou, plus some quirky originals, and the sound effects (usually Rabbids screaming) match the humorous tilt of the visuals.
Rayman Raving Rabbids is a great party game for the Wii. Its challenges are easy to grasp and make good use of the Wiimote, but more importantly, it’s fun to watch other people play. It certainly isn’t a game you can just turn on and enjoy any time, but if you plan on throwing many shindigs, make sure and invite Rayman Raving Rabbids.