If you are a gamer and you don’t what a Rabbid is yet, then you have not been paying close enough attention. Ubisoft’s crazy and mischievous characters have been gracing consoles on their own for the past half dozen years or so. Their specialty has been creating mayhem at every opportunity they can on as many platforms as possible, from the Wii, DS, Mobile, 3DS, PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Well now they invade the world of the just launched Nintendo Wii U in Rabbids Land, their latest party game. So do the Rabbids show the resiliency that was once just reserved to Hostess Twinkies?
For those who are party game fans, you will find that Rabbids Land does not stray far from the ideals of past party games, such as previous Rabbid titles as well as the mother of them all, Mario Party games. It is sad that we compare this latest game to these previous titles; however, given the lineage of each one, gameplay does not stray from the norm. Up to four players take turns rolling a virtual dice and you move your character around a virtual board. As you do you will play random mini-games. The goal here is to progress around the board and collect a certain number of trophies in order to be declared the victor. You can win these trophies in various mini-games or steal them from your opponents on the game board.
Right off the hop I have to state that although the game says 1-4 players, any number over two and gamers will find that there is more watching then playing. Let me explain. Up to four people can play, but the mini-games themselves are mostly developed to be a one versus one challenge. This usually involves one player using the Wii U’s GamePad while the other player uses a Wii Remote, and at times the Nunchuk too. As for the other two players, they will sit there watching and waiting for their turn. You will find that the actual games don’t take too long, and that everyone gets a turn to play, but having to sit out and wait can be a bit of a bummer as you are not always an active participant.
The mini-games of Rabbids Land take place in an amusement park, which would be why the game is titled the way it is. There are over 20 different attractions within this park, with each attraction being a mini-game for you to play. As noted, most of the games are such that it is one player versus another in a variety of challenges. These challenges can be rhythm-based games, flipping food, or even racing your Rabbid around a track with boulders chasing after you. I think that people will either love or hate the selection offered. Although I didn’t find anything too original or mind-blowing, I was not too disappointed with the variety of things to do. What really makes these games what they are though are the Rabbids themselves, but only these famed creatures can take a game so far.
Ubisoft added some trivia questions for ALL parties to try to answer, as well as some board specific power-ups that are neat to see, but don’t seem to really add anything to winning the game per se. Of course like so many party games before it, there is a risk/reward system for you to take advantage of too, and given that I never knew what or when this type of thing would happen it did manage to add a bit more to the gaming experience; not a lot mind you, but some.
If there is one thing that Rabbids Land does right is that it does demonstrate the neat features that are available to the Wii U and it’s new touchscreen GamePad. From interacting with the touchscreen itself to push objects in front of your opponent, turning the GamePad upside down and literally turning the game screen the same way, to blowing into the GamePad’s microphone to launch exploding penguins at your foe, there are some neat things to do.
The biggest problem with this game, and something mentioned above, is that people will find that they are watching the screen more often then they are actually playing. When they finally get a chance to play the experience can be over quite quickly. How many of you can say that it is particularly fun to watch others play? As well, many of the mini-games themselves have to be opened during gameplay, so don’t expect to have access to all the mini-games, as you have to open up many of them. This can be frustrating as you feel like you have to ‘grind’ your way to get the full benefit from what is offered here.
Visually the game is stylish and very ‘Rabbid-ish’. The amusement park is pretty well represented and there are some neat level designs for the mini-games. There are also some neat pop-culture or movie-like references too. Just take a look at the mini-game where you must mow down your opponents with a giant marble. The Rabbids are all dressed like Indiana Jones when he himself had to run away from a rolling boulder in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The game does not do anything overly ambitious on the Wii U, but it looks good for a party game. As for the sound, the game manages to do what it needs to here. There are the usual unintelligible ramblings and yelling of those rabbit like characters, and the sound effects do what they are supposed to. As for the music, what is there is adequate, and the music that is specific to the each mini-game manages to add a bit of heightened intensity to each one, although they are generally over quite quickly.
At the end of the day Rabbids Land is not an awful game by any means; however, it is not a good one either. Given the whole package that is offered, what one is left with is a decidedly average experience at best. That being said, Rabbid fans should get their usual kick out of the little white characters as they once again manage to make things a little bit better then they actually are.