We'll be honest: we were disappointed when we first realised that Rayman Raving Rabbids wouldn't be a true Rayman platformer but instead a series of mini-games loosely joined together in a Story mode. However, we were willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and see if it could bring anything to the Wii launch table. And we have to admit we're pleasantly surprised. The term 'Story mode' for the single-player game is stretching it a bit, since the plot is thinner than a Milan model.
The term 'Story mode' for the single-player game is stretching it a bit, since the plot is thinner than a Milan model. Rayman's been kidnapped by a bunch of mad bunnies (Rabbids) and unceremoniously dumped in a cell. Every day he's taken into a gladiatorial arena and made to perform four small tasks then a fifth, bigger task (usually a first-person arcade shooter level, a dance level or a race).
After this the Rabbids cheer for a bit and Rayman is given a plunger as a prize then thrown back into his cell. Our limbless hero decides to collect these plungers over the course of 15 or so days, and make a ladder with them to get to the high cell window and escape.
The first thing that becomes clear when you play is that this game is funny. Not just 'heh, that's quite clever' funny, but genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious at times. Although the Rabbids make some of the most annoying noises of all time (in particular the blood-curdlingly infuriating scream they tend to do more often than is really necessary), they just look so damn weird that you can't help but laugh at the funny little fellas.
On top of this, some of the mini-games are so ridiculous that you'll find yourself sniggering with unusual regularity. The game's convinced us that, cruel as it sounds, the hammer throw just isn't the hammer throw now unless the 'hammer' is a cow tied to a chain, and that being a shepherd would be much more fun if you could round up pigs by flying round on a huge bat, picking them up and dropping them into a pen.
We did have two problems with the game, however. First, if you fancy yourself as a reasonably skilled gamer, Raving Rabbids tends to be disappointingly easy and you'll find yourself ploughing through the mini-games without too much hassle. We'd completed over half of the Story mode after around three hours, and though the fact the mini-games are so entertaining suggests you'll be back to try and beat your high score, perhaps the option to at least select a harder difficulty lever for older or more experienced gamers would have made it slightly more of a challenge.
It's strange that the game feels so short because there are around 80 pretty diverse mini-games, and it's clear that the developer has spent a lot of time optimising the controls for every single one, but at the same time we were left wanting more.
Second, some of the games are very tiring. We don't mean 'tiring' as in boring but literally physically exhausting. For example, one of the games involves aiming a hose with your right hand and pumping carrot juice with the left in order to fill the Rabbids' snorkels. It's one of the trickier games and if you fail to complete it relatively quickly you'll have to give up for a while because as your left arm gets progressively weaker (all that pumping up and down wears you out), you'll get worse at the game.
Still, while these are annoying factors, they don't detract too much from the general enjoyment to be had. Raving Rabbids is still a surprisingly entertaining game, and one that will keep you laughing throughout its (disappointingly short) duration.