The Wii arrived six years ago. One of the launch titles, Rayman Raving Rabbids, was a collection of mini-games starring the eponymous limbless wonder and some brand new characters, the titular bunch of screaming bunnies. Fast-forward to the Wii U launch and the rodents have built the kind of cred to nab the starring role, but despite more than half a decade of progress, their Wii U appearance is far worse than their debut.
Rabbids Land is a multiplayer board game for up to four players/victims, in which you race your opponents to a certain number of trophies (either 10 or 20, depending on the particular settings you've chosen) before heading to the centre space on the board. The first person to set a paw in the middle wins the game.
There's not a single idea here that hasn't been done to death by Mario Party. There are squares that help your progress with presents, such as a chance to roll again or a pair of crutches that will cripple another Rabbid for a turn (completely missing the point of crutches). Others throw you into a mini-game, giving you an opportunity to win three trophies. Sometimes you'll land on a quiz square, where answering a trivia question correctly gets you two trophies.
We would love to be able to say there was more to it than that, but there really isn't. We shook the game box to see if we were missing some of the playing pieces or a second rulesheet, all to no avail.There's only one board, you choose either a 10 or 20-trophy limit and you move round playing a series of two-player mini-games until there's a winner. Job done. That isn't good enough for a full-price Wii U game.
Of course, the board game segments of party games are always notoriously rubbish - if even Mario can't nail it, the Rabbids certainly won't - so it's all eyes on the mini-games. It's bad news on this front, too. Whether you're blowing penguins into an opponent's ship, trying to catch bank robber Rabbids in security cameras or fastening the idiot creatures so they don't fly out of a theme park ride, everything feels dull.
This is an achievement in itself: it takes a truly moronic designer to take a game in which you surf through space dodging fireballs from an opponent who's triggering them to the beat of a Britney Spears song and make it feel ordinary. What's more, there are only around 20 of these mini-games available (compared to the 80 on offer in Mario Party 9), so it won't take long for you to see everything on offer.
More inexplicably, despite being a game for four people, every single mini-game is limited to two-players. Having a four-player party game where half the participants have to sit out during the 'fun' bit makes about as much sense as buying a car and then only ever using it to listen to the radio as it sits, undriven, on your driveway.
The only vague promise of innovation comes in the form of the Treasure Hunt mode, in which solo players take part in the mini-games as usual, but also have to collect coins that pop up during the course of each game. These coins unlock bonus videos, which is essentially a catalogue of Ubisoft's promotional Rabbid videos. Ubisoft, you spoil us with this unlockable marketing.