Wii

North America

Rayman Raving Rabbids 2

by Mike Thomsen - November 19, 2007, 3:37 pm PST
Total comments: 6

5.5

Kill the rabbit.

Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 is a strange and sad case. A sequel to last year's absurdly entertaining original, it takes almost every imaginative application of the Wii remote first demonstrated there and devolves it into something analogous to a baby shaking a rattle. The common complaint against the original was based on the unfortunate failings of the multiplayer side of the game that, more often than not, forced players to take turns rather than play simultaneously. RRR2 has done much to redress those concerns, but in the process, the fundamentals of the gameplay have been simplified to a stultifying degree. The tone and absurdity of the rabbid scenarios remain as wickedly amusing as ever, but the gameplay fails to deliver the same degree of freewheeling satisfaction and imagination. The game is certainly not a disaster, but in the already over-crowded mini-game market on the Wii, there's little that makes RRR2 deserve attention.

Like the original, the game offers a basic setup to explain the game's premise: rabbids have invaded Earth with a fleet of flying submarines, and Rayman must save the world from them. The game opens quite promisingly with a beautiful rendered cut-scene that lays the whole thing out in three easy minutes. The tone is perfectly set with the rabbids' brain-dead looks unpredictably escalating into panicked yells and inexplicably random behavior. A scene of the rabbids in front of a giant TV playing random commercials and TV clips while watching in a slavish trance is a perfect encapsulation of the tonal and cultural send-ups that the game plays upon. The game's main menu screen is cleverly built around a mall corridor that dovetails perfectly with the deviously simple premise of deconstructing and satirizing modern culture.

When you begin the game you'll have to guide Rayman on a series of "trips" through different continents to save the world. Each trip consists of six mini-games that must be completed before a region can be considered cleared. Every trip can be played in easy or normal difficulty setting, with three new mini-games swapped in for each difficulty. Once you beat a trip, all of the mini-games will be available to use in building your own custom trip. In a nod to complaints about the poorly designed multiplayer in the first Raving Rabbids, all the trips can be played either solo or with up to four players. Being able to play the main campaign with friends is a great addition to the game and impressively unifies the basic strength of the mini-game design. This is a game meant to be played with friends with reckless abandon.

Unfortunately, the mini-games offered aren't nearly as entertaining as the premise that they're surrounded with. A disturbing majority of the fifty-plus mini-games are based around either shaking the Wii Remote or alternately shaking the Remote and Nunchuk (how many different games have you done that in by now?). One of the discrete charms of the original Rabbids game was the synchronicity between what players were asked to do with the Remote and what, consequently, happened in-game. If you were pulling worms from a tooth, you aimed at the worm with the Remote and pulled back. If you were guiding a marble through a maze, you titled the Remote to move the floor of the maze. If you were shooting carrot juice at frenzied rabbids, you pumped the juicer with the Nunchuk and fired the stream with the Remote's IR. It wasn't deep, but it made sense and was pleasantly rewarding in the brief sessions of gaming the title was designed around.

The sequel's core gameplay offers a far less connected sense of motion control. In one sequence, based on television's The Office, you shake the Remote as vigorously as possible to make Rayman freak out while the boss is in another room. When the boss re-enters the room, you have to stop shaking the Remote to avoid being caught. In another game, Rayman must throw paper wads at a teacher in a classroom by shaking the Remote up and down. When the teacher turns around, players use the IR to point at another student to deflect the blame. In yet another game, you're asked to take turns hitting a rabbid on an operating table until he is unconscious. Each consequent hit makes the rabbid sleepier, and the player to score the hit that sends the rabbid to dreamland wins the game. While there are some timing constraints, each of these games rely solely on who can shake the Remote one way or another and, the longer you play each one, the more you'll start to realize how fundamentally disconnected your gestures are from what's happening in-game.

There are a few other variations on motion control that hearken back to the original, including tilting the Remote to steer Rayman around a track during races. The same essential controls are used here, but tracks are now straightforward corridors with only mild curves and obstacles that tend to recycle every few seconds. Also returning are the on-rails shooter levels, unlocked at the end of each trip. Ubisoft Paris has taken a drastic turn with the art direction of the game here, opting to use actual video of real world environments as backdrops and layering the rabbids and their cartoonish vehicles in on top. This choice evokes the whimsy of older children's movies like Bedknobs & Broomsticks and The Muppet Movie with an endearing mix of the absurd bunnies and the real-life places where they have run amuck. Unfortunately, real world settings don't provide nearly the same level of environmental diversity as the 3-D rendered ones from the original. Instead of a constantly moving trip through an intricate level of blind corners and specifically designed geography, we're given bland walks in a straight line that quickly become formulaic. It's commendable that Ubisoft Paris was willing to take such a risk, but the result has needlessly weakened one of the best parts of the game.

Raving Rabbids 2 was clearly designed around multiplayer, and it's here that the game performs best. Being able to jump in and play the game at any point with another player is a great feature, and the random Remote shaking at the heart of the game is never more fun than when you're competing against another person. It's not an entertainment that will last, however, as, even in multiplayer, the formula of shaking as fast as you can for some vague and random purpose quickly becomes pointless. It's fun for a few games, but after twenty minutes of seeing whose arm can waggle faster, most players will tire of the formula.

Not all the mini-games are waggle-tastic dogs, however. One entertaining turn has players holding the Remotes to their mouths like a flute and then pushing the A, 1, or 2 buttons in time with on-screen prompts. Another happy invention is a Spider-Man-based game in which players chase a web-slinging rabbid, twisting their Remotes to line up their player with the air bound target to fire a missile. If you successfully knock the Spidey-rabbid out of the sky, you get to take his position and aim your web slinging with the same Remote twisting to avoid the missiles of other players.

Graphically, RRR2 is a bright and colorful game with some amusingly exaggerated animations to match the crazy unpredictability of the core concept. Underneath the glib art style, however, the game is rife with low-res textures, simple character models, and disappointingly plain environments. The original game wasn't exactly a technical powerhouse, and this sequel seems like a step back from its predecessor. Sound design matches the goofy theme of the game, with lots of unhinged rabbid screams and yelps, and some lively background music to accompany each game. You'll notice some themes repeat a little too frequently, though, and, generally, there's little in the music that you'll remember after you've turned your Wii off and moved on to something else (save the infectious banjo riff that plays at the end of every mini-game).

If you've played the original, Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 is a frustrating disappointment. It has done much to amend the multiplayer shortcomings of the first game and extended the absurdist hilarity of the rabbids to new territory. Unfortunately, the gameplay has been stripped of its modest nuance in favor of arbitrary Remote shaking and some tilt-steering around spartan racetracks. If you've never played a Rabbids game, you'll get a little more entertainment out of this one, if only for the pleasantly cheeky sense of humor. However, the repetitive and disconnected gameplay will eventually wear out even the most open-minded gamers. The inclusion of online leaderboards for each mini-game and an even more robust character customization feature can't do much to ameliorate the ridiculously repetitive gameplay. Coming out only a year after the original, RRR2 makes a good case against publishers rushing to release a sequel to a successful game on an annual basis. RRR2 has taken all the charm and thoughtful originality of the first game and reduced it to a catatonically simple formula that even the most ardent fan will find hard to enjoy for longer than a few hours.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6 6.5 5 6 4 5.5
Graphics
6

The game is bright and cheerful, with a varied set of backdrops, from an ice world to a mad scientist's laboratory. The character models are low on polygons, and the environments are overly sparse on further inspection, with low-res textures all around.

Sound
6.5

There's a good amount of variety to the different background themes for each mini-game, but few possess any memorable charm. The rabbids, once again, have a very pleasing array of insane screams, but there's little else that really gives personality to the game environment. The tunes in the music-based rhythm game are anemic and lack the whacky variety (and quantity) of the original.

Control
5

The game's true Achilles heel is its simplified control scheme. An alarming number of the mini-games are based around simply shaking the Wii Remote and Nunchuk with abandon. Worse still, there is no intuitive connection between the player's Remote shakes and the resultant actions produced in-game. It might be fun for newcomers to Wii, but the formula is overly familiar and lacks the comparative grace of the original's suite of motion controls. The game represents a genuine step backward in the evolution of Wii controls.

Gameplay
6

There's enough basic charm to keep fans of the rabbids chugging through to unlock all the mini-games. Being able to play all the mini-games with up to four other players simultaneously is a great boon to the overall design, but the controls are so reductive and disjointed that it's hard to imagine many people finding any genuine entertainment value here.

Lastability
4

There is less content here than the original, almost across the board. There are fewer mini-games, fewer on-rails shooter levels, and fewer songs for the music-based jukebox game. The enhanced multiplayer options are intended to make up for the reduced content, but the mini-games lack any genuine entertainment value. The addition of online leaderboards is a nice touch and might have been a bigger hook had the games actually been fun enough to inspire repeat plays.

Final
5.5

Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 is a painful disappointment. All of the imagination and creativity of the first game has been dumbed down to the point of stupefaction. The charmingly absurdist tone remain intact, but playing through the mini-games, in a group or by yourself, is a regressive experience. All too often, the gameplay comes back to simply shaking the Remote and/or Nunchuk with only the most random connection to what's happening on screen. Ubisoft has provided a good feature set for the game and has done an excellent job carving out the identity of the Rabbids. If only more attention had been spent polishing the gameplay, this game might have been a genuine winner. As it stands, it's one of the least entertaining mini-game collections on the Wii.

Summary

Pros
  • Multiplayer options are great
  • Online leaderboards
  • Sense of humor remains satisfying
Cons
  • Graphics are a step back from the original
  • On-rails shooter levels are slow and predictable
  • Simplified controls are a repetitive chore
  • You can see all there is to see in three hours
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

NinGurl69 *hugglesNovember 19, 2007

Certified flop.

Don't water-down my gameplay, Boobi-Soft.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterNovember 19, 2007

If the main complain about Raving Rabbids 2 is that its very waggle tastic then I expect Mario and Sonic to receive the same score...

jpc168November 19, 2007

that sucks. i was looking forward to this game and i hoped that it would be good after hearing all the good things about the 1st game...

thatguyNovember 19, 2007

Well, I'm not surprised. But remember, just because a game scores a 5.5 here doesn't mean it isn't worth your time. The truly bad games score under five at NWR. The mediocre ones get about a six, IMO.

Anyways, it looks like we've got more of the same, and I didn't enjoy the original to begin with.

stedamanNovember 19, 2007

I like it ...but it is disappointing. I really don't understand the chess game....
The shooting games are a poor do...trying to be clever with real life video in the background....but it doesn't work when the frames move like shit...really big eltdown. Rather have the same as the first one with good frame rate...

The music games are without a shadow of a doubt the best things...really good. Love the leaderboards as well face-icon-small-happy.gif!
I'm high ranked on some which is nice..beats entering codes on the orginal which I couldn't be arsed with.

I think your score for lasting appeal is very harsh.

Personally I'd give this game a 7. If you really liked the first one..like me then this will be a good buy for you.
Most definatly rushed to get it out before christmas to sell...dirty ubisoft!

couchmonkeyNovember 20, 2007

Wow, I'm surprised! I really thought this one was going to fix the problems of the original and be better overall. Where's that Nintendo-like quality, Ubisoft?

Maybe they can get it right with 3.

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Rabbits Party Returns Box Art

Genre Party/Parlor
Developer Ubisoft

Worldwide Releases

na: Rayman Raving Rabbids 2
Release Nov 13, 2007
PublisherUbisoft
RatingEveryone 10+
jpn: Rabbits Party Returns
Release Dec 06, 2007
PublisherUbisoft
Rating12+
eu: Rayman Raving Rabbids 2
Release Nov 16, 2007
PublisherUbisoft
Rating3+
aus: Rayman Raving Rabbids 2
Release Nov 15, 2007
PublisherUbisoft
RatingParental Guidance
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