The Rabbids leave Rayman behind and embark on an inventive, hilarious adventure.
When the Rabbids first appeared in 2006, they were merely dumb enemies plotting to take over Rayman's universe in Rayman Raving Rabbids. But the characters were a success and two more games were produced, ironically making Rayman a secondary element of the titles despite his mention in the title. In Rabbids Go Home, they completely leave the Rayman universe and the mini-game collection genre behind, making Rabbids Go Home an adventure game with an incredible sense of humor.
While there were some stories in past Rabbids games, Rabbids Go Home kicks it up a notch as the they plot to go back home. Sadly, their stupidity and naiveté leads them to believe that their home is the moon. With this goal set, the Rabbids decide to try and reach the moon by creating a pile big enough that reaches it. This leads to chaos and mayhem as the Rabbids disrupt humans and terrorize them with their high-pitched screams and deadly shopping carts.
The concept of the game is very simple: You control two Rabbids guiding a shopping cart, with one pushing it and one riding inside. The goal is to reach the end of the level, which are filled with obstacles and enemies, and collect as many items as possible. Throughout the game, Rabbids will be present in order to give you a hand with tips or save all the items you have collected so far. When you reach the end of the level, you will be graded according to how many items you collect. Every level has hundreds of items that are measured out in feet.
The game features a hub world that isn't as relevant as Peach's Castle in Super Mario 64, but it gives the player the chance to create even more mayhem and collect additional items for the pile as they look for the next set of levels. Each set has different item plateaus that open up new levels.
The playable Rabbids' main form of attack is their scream. With a shake of the Wii Remote the Rabbid in the cart will launch a scream. If you attack the humans, you will scare the clothes off of them. You can also stun attack dogs with the scream. You're encouraged to zoom around the levels while holding the A button, and you can perform a dash attack by turning sharply and then pressing the B button. The boost can also be used as an attack, allowing the Rabbids to strip the humans and collect all the items in one smooth move. What's interesting is that the more skilled you are with this move, the quicker you will navigate the level, which adds a bit of strategy to a straight-forward game. You can also shoot a Rabbid by pointing with the Wii Remote and pressing the Z button on the Nunchuk. Doing this can open up secret passages or create bridges for the Rabbids to cross. In a similar manner to Super Mario Galaxy, a second player can join in and fire off a Rabbid and collect items, which is helpful since there are a lot of them to get.
The game isn't one of the most complex adventure titles on the market, but it's this kind of simplicity that makes it accessible and fun. Attacks are easy to perform and the shopping cart maneuvers smoothly. The levels are very creative in terms of theme and presentation; No two levels will ever be the same thanks to how ingenious they are. They are pretty linear, though, which makes exploration limited.
Gameplay also suffers a bit from redundancy. The main goal is to collect items, and while the game does try to liven up the pace by offering mid-level challenges, it grows stale. One potential turn-off for some is that you can't skip the cut scenes that show the Rabbids running around in the sewers before and after every level. It's not so bad that it ruins the game, but the option to skip it would have been appreciated.
Luckily, Ubisoft has added many additional modes outside of the adventure. Easily the biggest one of all is the Rabbids customization feature. You can choose one of three Rabbids (the two in the cart and the one that gets shot into the game with the Z button on the Nunchuk) by sucking them into the Wii Remote. You can then customize them by using a variety of tools, many which must be earned during your adventure. You can truly do anything you want, with your only limitation being your imagination. Everything from the size of the Rabbid's eyes and ears to the color of its skin can be altered to your heart's content. There is even a dedicated Wii Channel you can install when you first load the game that allows you to participate in Custom Rabbid contests, vote for other players' Rabbids, and even download them onto your game.
Ubisoft has labeled the title as a comedy adventure, and it lives up to the moniker. The Rabbids, of course, provide most of the humor, but the human's panic attacks are also enjoyable. They also provide funny commentary on pedestrian things such as shopping and hospital care.
One thing that truly puts the humor over the top is the idea of a Rabbids being inside the Wii Remote. With this one little extra, Ubisoft has managed to accomplish many things, including humor that breaks the fourth wall and a very clever use for the Wii Remote. On screen, the Rabbid will be happily living in the Wii Remote and every action that you perform with it happens in real time. If you shake the Wii Remote, the Rabbid will fly around and suffer lots of pain. If you press the buttons, the Rabbid will "speak" to the clicks and noises. You can even tickle him by grabbing a lose piece of electrical wire. This is one of those few instances in which the extra is just as worthwhile as the main game. A lot of thought and creativity went into this little segment of gameplay, and don't be surprised if you end up visiting your Rabbids from time to time.
Rabbids Go Home features a very simple look, but it's one that benefits the entire package. The Rabbids are very detailed and vividly animated. Even when you customize them in crazy ways, they will still express their feelings with all the madness you have come to expect from them. The humans, however, I feel are too simplistic. They animate and express themselves well enough, but their design gets tiring, and you wish they were more varied. The stages surprise in their detail. Everything from the Rabbid's junkyard to an office filled with paper towers are decorated with neat little details that give the places a lot of character. There are some warts that hinder the package, though. Frame rate is very inconsistent as it is smooth one minute, and dipping the next. Luckily, it doesn't make or break the whole game. There are also some graphical glitches present, including clipping and aliasing issues.
The sound in Rabbids Go Home is easily one of the best in any Wii game to date. The Rabbids remain just as grating and funny thanks to their voices. They still manage to express a lot of emotions with unintelligible speech. The voices for the human are also well acted and convey the feeling of distress very well. Throughout the levels, you will hear commentary from an unseen speaker, which adds to the aural theme of the level. Unfortunately, these lines do repeat.
My favorite part of the sound department is the music. Rabbids Go Home features songs performed by a brass band, and they contribute a lot to the humor and mayhem to the gameplay. The game also surprises in its use of licensed songs. During the levels you will hear appropriately themed songs such as "Louie Louie" and John Denver's "Country Roads."
It's very rare to see a franchise spun off from its original game concept and be successful on the first try. Rabbids Go Home leaves the party game genre behind, and the end results are amazing. Even if there's some redundancy in the gameplay, the creativity of the levels, ease of play, amazing use of the Wii's technology, and incredible musical score make it one of the best Wii games of the year. If you love the Rabbids or just want a great game for your Wii, don't hesitate and take the Rabbids home.