Back when the Wii launched years ago there were two kinds of games that accompanied the release. There were the hardcore titles that people remember like Zelda and Red Steel (though Red Steel was remembered for very different reasons indeed.) On the other hand there were the slew of forgettable casual games that now epitomise the Wii’s, somewhat lacklustre, library of titles. One such title was Rayman: Raving Rabbids and, somewhere along the way, the game has spawned a few pointlessly similar sequels and lost the arbitrary Rayman license. Rant over.
Travel in Time marks another entry into the series and it, once again, incorporates some bizarre rabbit-but-not-rabbit creatures as they engage in platforming based party action. Travel in Time adds the well beaten time travel theme to the proceedings and sees the rabbids going back through history and changing the course of events in random, irresponsible and supposedly humorous ways. The plot is a very loose framework around which the game is based and, whilst it is mildly humorous seeing King Arthur wielding a toilet brush rather than a sword, the humour is unlikely to tickle the collective funny bones of anyone over the age of consent.
The actual gameplay in Rabbids is divided into stages that occupy various zones. Some like the bouncearium and runarium adopt a fairly familiar 3D platformer archetype, but others require you to use the remote in its usual motion control fashion. The platformer sections play out as you’d expect, but they lack any real ingenuity and the controls feel a little unresponsive. The runarium games are the biggest culprit of this metaphorical crime as the controls for lifting and throwing your partner character seemed to take far to long to respond to my input than they should have. There is a nice variety in the differences between each stage with races, collecting missions and A to B style puzzle levels all getting a look in. Sadly, as is the case with the game in general, these platforming mechanics are rather shallow and I just found myself getting far too bored far too quickly in these sections.
What’s worse than repetition and the odd control blunder of the platforming bits is the extreme repetition and ridiculously poor control schemes that characterise the motion controlled games. The flyarium sees you holding the nunchuck and remote out at either side like a pair of wings and tilting and twisting to adjust your flight path. Turning was easy enough but the tilt controls to control your pitch were far too sensitive and, whilst the game remained a reasonable laugh with friends, I constantly got the feeling that I wasn’t entirely in control of what was going on. The shootarium works well enough and plays to the Wii remote’s strengths but it is a fairly monotonous game type with little charm above the usual “point and shoot” affair. The only thing that felt well handled in terms of motion controls was the hookarium fishing games, but they only felt solid on account of them requiring you to have a Wii motion plus to play them.
If you can get over the tedious nature of the simplistic gameplay on offer in Raving Rabbids, you’ll find that it has a reasonable amount of content on offer. There are a fair few levels for you to make your way through in each zone, and the games are made significantly more enjoyable as you add more players to the proceedings. Thankfully the multiplayer is handled well in the game as, at any time in the main museum hub, you can just turn on another Wii remote and join into the game. All the games can be played with between one and four players, and they all remain reasonably well balanced no matter how many people join in. I’ll still stick with my previous point that the game can get boring quickly, but it certainly holds a little more water when you play it with a group of friends. There are also several other activities you can do, alone or with others, ranging from singing to rudimentary motion controlled dance routines. These are fun enough to offer a little bit of extra playtime but, regardless of this, they are still just a brief distraction from the main game.
Usually, games that are aimed at a young audience are synonymous with poor production values. In spite of this usual paradigm, Raving Rabbids is actually quite aesthetically pleasing. The fur effects might be a bit lacking, but the textures and characters models are solid and well realised all around. The animations are the only visual blemish I had issue with but, that said, there isn’t necessarily any indication that Rabbids should move in a particularly smooth or regular manner. The sound is reasonably by the book, with vivid mickey mouse style orchestration. The main aural irritation I found with Raving Rabbids was in the shout you need to force your Rabbids to do to begin each stage. It was mildly humorous to begin with but, after a few hours of gameplay, it just became plain annoying.
Raving Rabbids: Travel in Time isn’t necessarily a bad game, but it appeals to a very small demographic. The gameplay is far too lukewarm to justify the humour and thematic content, which is only going to appeal to younger children. Having said this, I would still not ever recommend Raving Rabbids to a younger audience. For the money you’d pay out for a copy of Travel in Time you’d be much better off getting another child friendly party game like the Wii sports games or Mario Kart. Raving Rabbids wouldn’t be a complete waste of your time or money, but the competition from other fantastic multiplayer games on the Wii makes its presence in the market somewhat needless.
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Wii.
Light-hearted comedy, Variety in game modes, Decent presentation, Quite a lot to see and do, Enjoyable jump in/out multiplayer
Some games are lacking in depth, Often unsatisfying controls, Can get boring quickly, The humour is random and unsubtle
A kids' platformer and party game in one, Travel in Time carries on the Rabbids tradition of offering light-hearted motion controlled gameplay that often carries a questionable level of depth and enjoyment