November 08, 2011
Those squidgy Raving Rabbids have been all over the Nintendo Wii for years now, committing their very own unique brand of wanton chaos and destruction. In essence, it's a concept that provides the perfect excuse for some sadistic mini-games in which you kill as many of the pesky critters as you can. Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is the first appearance on Kinect for the eponymous, rubbery monsters who have invaded the planet and overrun a San Francisco-like city, that could well be San Fran for all we know. It certainly looks like San Francisco.
Whatever. That's neither here nor there. What does matter is that the rabbids' proclivity for wreaking havoc hasn't waned as a result of their journey to Kinect, with that same trademark toilet humour that had players using the Wii balance board with their arse, still present and in full effect. Hell, you'll even escape up a rabbid's anus and through his colon in one of the many mini-games on offer. Opening with the rabbids performing weird experiments with cows in weird vats of green liquid, it's not long before the blighters are bursting through manholes and pouring out onto the streets, which means you'll need to band together with some friends and get exterminating.
A collection of mini-games, Rabbids has you performing all sorts of weird and wonderful actions, as you keep the freaky creatures at bay, with a flailing of limbs, a swing, a punch, a kick or whatever else the game tasks you with mustering up. As mini-games go, Rabbids is an eclectic and inventive selection that'll have you doing something different every few minutes. Or indeed every few seconds, as some are over before you've had a chance to even think about what you're doing. These are usually the quirky hand-drawn animated challenges, that have you licking cake off a rabbid's face, wiping an X-ray slate clean or scrutinising spot the difference puzzles to see how many discrepancies you can find.
As fun as these hand-drawn games are, the real entertainment to be had is in the proper augmented reality games, wherein you interact with the on-screen scenery directly and it's entirely possible to while away entire evenings with friends just messing around with the various hilarious tasks. Things like slapping rabbids as they whizz by on trains hanging out of the windows, or cleaning up mustard being squirted all over the floor, making scary silhouettes behind a shower curtain, using your voice to lure a blindfolded rabbid into traps or punching your way through hordes of rabbids racing into a shopping mall never fail in eliciting a chuckle, but these activities are infinitely more enjoyable with friends. There are things that lend themselves more to single-player like the Lemmings style escort game, where you simply have to open and close bridges to get the rabbids safely into a containment tank, so they can be dropped into a turbine, but by and large, it is a game best played with others.
Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is a somewhat short-lived experience on your own, as there's only so much lonely prancing around your living room you can do without wanting to weep. Still, if you're looking to fill a few minutes with some undemanding and enjoyable distractions on Kinect, you could do a lot worse than Rabbids. This is most definitely a social game though, so you'll have a lot more fun with some buddies, competing in 1-on-1 games or co-operative team-based tasks. Trying to fill in silhouettes together, dodge spotlights as a team or strike daft poses often results in rolling fits of laughter if you're playing with like-minded people, but to play a multiplayer game, you'll need loads of room. Possibly more space is required for a multiplayer game of Rabbids than any other Kinect game we've played thus far, which is a bugbear to say the least.
Chances are if you've got Kinect, you've likely got a lounge big enough to accommodate it though, so hopefully this shouldn't be an issue. If you've got the space, Rabbids is worth getting in for weekends with friends, whether you end up playing Whack-a-Rabbid, hitting cars and trucks back at a huge rabbid robot in Rabbzilla or bouncing a flaming marshmallow back and forth in a twist on the classic Pong, you'll always find a game type to entertain you. The sheer variety of what's on offer is one of Rabbids' strong points, but it would have been nice to have more options for compiling playlists for parties or something to that effect.
As it stands, you're presented with quick play or party play options – with unique multiplayer games on a spinning wheel to discover - in which you can either choose a single game to play, or you can simply play randomly selected games until the cows come home. Did we mention there's loads of cows in the game? Well there is, and you're supposed to avoid hitting them for some reason. Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is a wilfully silly and often surreal game, which is all part and parcel of its inherent charm, and for all its shortcomings, it's something that gradually grew on us. There is a sort of point to it all too. Completing mini-games grants you a star rating out of three, which translates to in-game currency called TP (money printed on pink Toilet Paper) that you can then spend on props and decorations for the My Rabbid mode. My Rabbid simply has you stood in your lounge with a rabbid that you can interact with and abuse as much as you like, using various props like cows, brooms, an octopus and all manner of silly hats, glasses and other items that you can buy using your TP.
Rabbids is a well thought out collection of mini-games, and there are some fairly nicely thought out achievements to go with it too. You unlock achievements for doing stuff wrong, like hitting cows at the Slapping Station when you're not supposed to, or getting caught in all of the spotlights in Now You See Me... Like the game itself, it's an achievement list with fun as its focus, and if the game grabs you, you'll more than likely want to try and clock up the full 1000 points, which ought to be pretty easy, if slightly time consuming, to do. It will however, demand that you scare up more than a few mates to help out, including enough to unlock an achievement that requires 16 players.
Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is tailor-made for Kinect, and works brilliantly as a party game. It's less successful as a solitary pursuit, as there's no story mode to tie it all together, and as such it literally is just a selection of brief activities to be played with friends. If you don't mind that 40+ mini-games is all there is to the game, you'll find a lot to like about Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking. As it is though, we like Rabbids for its crazed anarchic humour and sole remit as a fun party game, but we can't help but feel that it's still somewhat lacking.
A little feeble in the aural department, with the squeaky voices of the rabbids and some cheesy, light-hearted music being the only sounds to speak of. The Guitar Zero tracks are likeable though.
Perfectly serviceable for this kind of game, the rabbids look as endearing as always and there are some impressive, bold and colourful environments. Most of the time though, you'll be looking at your own living room. Adjust the score accordingly depending on how highly you rate your own décor.
Rabbids is great fun to play, especially with friends, but you'll need a load of space for the multiplayer games. Kudos to Ubi for the level of invention and imagination in its mini-games, and the augmented reality works rather well.
There are more than 40 games to check out, which will keep you playing for ages, but that's about it. Some mini-games last seconds, whereas others last minutes, but overall there's a good balance of varying activities to play. Great for big and little kids alike then.
A nice and easy list with an emphasis on fun, that should please anyone looking to have a laugh with their cheevos.
Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is a great party game, that'll keep a party going with its variety of nutty mini-games. As with any Kinect game, it has its foibles, but get some friends around and you'll have a blast. The only downside is an issue of longevity, as once you've exhausted the mini-games, you're unlikely to go back.