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PLATFORM: Wii (Also coming for PS2, Xbox 360 and GBA)
ESRB RATING: E
DEVELOPER: Ubisoft Montpellier
Rayman has always been a great series. Maybe because it was made much later than the classic platformers, maybe because it was a little too French, but for some reason it never really got the respect it deserved. When a Rayman game was announced for the Wii people got excited until they learned it wouldn’t be one of the classic platforming adventures and instead a collection of minigames. Still, most were optimistic for the game, as it seemed to use the Wii remote in interesting ways.
Did it work out in the game’s favor? Well…. yes and no.
There is somewhat of a story to this one. Rayman’s been kidnapped by the Raving Rabbids, a bunch of lunatic bunny rabbits that don’t know how to do much besides dance. Now their slave, Rayman’s forced into playing minigames. (Those dastardly bunnies!) As he gets more and more popular he wins plungers (yes, the toilet kind) and the affection of the crowd. He uses the plungers to escape from his cell…
That’s about it. This game wishes it could be Mario Party, but it makes some huge mistakes in doing that.
First off, to unlock all of the games for multiplayer you have to beat the single player mode. This is not how the game should be played. The setup of the game is this, as the Rabbid’s gladiator you’re locked up in a room where you’re periodically brought out to fight in an arena of sorts. The arena has 4 doors to minigames, and a final exit that only opens once all of the minigames have been beaten. Now here’s the thing… every time you come to the arena the same types of games are available. 1 door always leads to the disco dance minigames, one leads to the games where you have to shake the controller like crazy, and so on. Remember that there’s over 70 minigames, and you’ll begin to realize how repetitive the game is. Never mind that the later levels in the game are actually the same ones from the beginning! Just, instead of say, milking a cow you’re now going to have to milk a cow and throw away the bottle. The little button presses and motions that have been added on don’t change the fact that the games are the same.
So after drudging through the single player mode (which has some incredibly repetitive cinemas, as well) you’re rewarded by being able to play the same games in multiplayer. Here’s where more problems start up. First off, you won’t want to play these games again. Second, when you play with a friend, you have to pick a game to play. That’s right, there’s no random mode, or even a game with multiple players- you pick which minigame you want to play, and you play it. There’s a mode where you can do a few in a row, but in order to get that you have to unlock points…. by playing the same games in multiplayer. It’s maddening.
That’s not to say they’re bad… far from that. There’s a lot of great minigames here. There’s a shooting game here that’s on rails (like a Time Crisis game) that’s incredibly fun. You aim plungers at the Rabbids with the remote and reload by shaking the nunchuck, There’s lots of cool boss battles and different types of enemies. It’s available in multiplayer as well, in 2-player co-op or competitively.
The other longer minigames don’t work nearly as well, such as the races and some of the more repetitive games. You’ll soon learn which to avoid, and which doesn’t work in multiplayer. See, some aren’t games you can play in the same time instead making you take turns. Very boring when you’ve got 4 people attempting the same game, one after the other.
But there are some classics here. Such as the singing choir of bunnies where you have to zoom in on them to see which one’s being a wiseass and singing silly, so you can slap him. Or the game where you swing a cow around Olympic hammer style before launching him for distance. Or the game where you try to kick a rabbit past a goalie in order to score. There’s also a dance mode where you shake the controllers in a simplified Samba De Amigo style to some actual licensed music. Yep, you can shake your booty to OPP (yeah you know me) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Misirlou (the real version! Not the Guitar Hero abortion.) It makes for a fun time, especially co-op… but there’s not much to it.
One thing the game does right is by having a sense of humor. The game is pretty hysterical. The Rabbid’s screams are always funny, and it’s really entertaining to abuse the little bastards. You will abuse them a lot, too- bashing them on the heads with shovels, launching them off mine carts, and drowning them with carrot juice. This game has a lot of personality, which is good- because the minigames wouldn’t be half as fun without it.
The graphics are a very mixed bag because in some areas you can definitely see that the Wii has some power behind it, with huge outdoor areas that you can see for miles; but others look just like a Gamecube game. This isn’t a game to get to show off your system for the graphics though, obviously.
The music’s good, if only for the licensed tracks. Nothing like blasting La Bamba while backup bunny dancers scream behind you.
Like I said before, the game gets old quick. There are some really fun minigames, but they’re nothing you’ll play for hours on end. Pity the poor person who unlocks all the games in the single player mode, because they’ll never want to play half of the games again.
In an attempt to increase your replay value Ubisoft has a feature where you get codes for high scores and enter it at the Rayman site to see how you stack up worldwide. Kinda cool, but shouldn’t this have been available through the online capabilities of the Wii? Damn you Nintendo.
Don’t get me wrong- I had a lot of fun with this game, and it really is a great game to show off the versatility of the Wii remote probably better even than Wii Sports. But the concept on a whole is just too sloppy to keep your interest for too long.
If I had reviewed this game a couple of days after I started playing it, this would have been a much more positive review. But fact is that you’ll get bored with this after playing all of the good games a handful of times, and it’s not something that’s going to light up your party. With better multiplayer and a more beefed up single player mode this could’ve been a keeper. Which is a shame, because as it is right now, it’s just not. An entertaining diversion, but anyone who wants a quick round of minigames might be better off waiting for Warioware.