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February 6, 2015

RABBIDS MONTH: Rayman Raving Rabbids (Wii)

Rayman Raving Rabbids - Bottom 12 / Top 12 Minigames
Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 DS - Bottom 12 / Top 12 Minigames
Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 Wii - Bottom 12 / Top 12 Minigames
Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party - Bottom 12 - Top 13 Minigames

The game opens on a beautiful sunny day in... uh... whatever's the name of Rayman's world. Rayman was enjoying a picnic outside with some of Globox's children (I guess that weirdo is quite the breeder). Actually, I have to admit that the baby Globoxes are rather adorable. Just wait till they reach maturity, they'll be a lot less cute. Anyway, the ground starts shaking, apples fall from the tree... the baby Globoxes are pulled underground, one after the other. And then from those same holes come out creepy white bunnies. Trying to understand what the Heck is going on, Rayman tries to offer food to one of those bunnies... but then a giant, black, Juggernaut bunny with a mask comes and grabs Rayman by the body piece, dragging him away.

There's another door on the far left, by the way.
Next thing Rayman knows, he's kicked at the center of a large coliseum, with hordes of those white bunnies watching him, ecstatic. Four doors open before him. Behind each door, a minigame. He is now forced to play the Rabbids' games. Will he ever be the same again? Will it cost him his life? Well, he's probably gonna die... of laughter!

That's the modest introduction to Rayman Raving Rabbids. No dialog, no backstory, just the most bizarre happening in a world that is already pretty strange. Were those bunnies always underground? Are they aliens? Monsters? Aliens, probably not, because then they'd need to be an intelligent life form. To see that intro, you had to pick Story Mode on the main menu and create a save file. There are other options, like Score Mode and Gallery; I'll look at those later. First, the plot.

Your performance deserves one thumb up.
Er... One raised plunger.
To Rayman's joy, the tasks the Rabbids force him to participate in are mostly funny. Not to mention they often let him hurt plenty of Rabbids, so it's quite therapeutic for him. When he beats a minigame, the Rabbids congratulate the limbless hero. A Rabbid effigy on top of the large door between the other 4 will raise a plunger. Every day, Rayman has to beat at least three minigames (out of four) to get access to that large door, which (usually) leads to a Bunny Hunt minigame. It's strongly advised to play through all 4 minigames first, though... or else you'll have to replay Story Mode to unlock the minigames you haven't played.
The first three minigames (the two on the left and the first one on the right of the center door) are always the same, in that is you play through Story Mode once and replay it again, the same minigames are always gonna be on the same days. Minigames on Day 1 will only be found on Day 1, minigames on Day 2 can only be played on Day 2, and so on. There's no shuffle, the minigames you play on each day aren't selected randomly.

Rabbids are guh-rooo-vy!
Like the others, the fourth minigame will not be chosen at random, but it's always going to be a music minigame. Rayman is at the center of a stage, and dancing as Rabbids are coming towards him from his left and his right. You have to flick the Wiimote to light up a bunny when he hits the pad near Rayman on his right, and flick the Nunchuk when a Rabbid reaches Rayman's left. Perfect hits are required to get a high score. If you're off the beat, the Rabbid will disappear in a yellow light rather than a white one. And if you miss a Rabbid, it will disappear in a red light. Just make it through the whole song. (Also, it's usually after the song minigame that you'll unlock stuff, whether it's an alternate costume for Rayman or a song for the music player in his room.)

Likewise, the fifth minigame will usually be a Bunny Hunt minigame (like, 4 times out of 5). The game switches to first-person perspective. You, as Rayman, must shoot all the Rabbids (or, at least, as many Rabbids as possible), using your trusted plunger gun. ...No, really: A plunger gun. Have I mentioned that the Rabbids weren't very high-brow when it comes to comedy? So, go ahead and shoot Rabbids! 

Clark thinks he's good. Yeah, sure. His records? 7,500 feet
of descending flight and 1.5 feet of underground
They love to dress up, they love to play... There are special Rabbids, too, like Clark, the Super-Rabbid who pretends to be Clark Kent (no, not Superman; Clark Kent. He doesn't understand the concept of secret identities); Rabbids running around with bombs in gifts; big, grey Rabbids that take a few hits to take down (but if you hit them in the face first, they're a lot easier to defeat); Rabbids wearing armor made of kitchen plates and casseroles (You first have to break their armor off); Professor Barranco, a poor little one with bandages on the head, because he always gets hurt (even RAYMAN willingly hurts poor lil' Barranco... Our hero, everyone!)... It's also in these minigames that you'll fight the game's bosses, like the large bipedal machines used to conquer Rayman's world, or Pink, a mysterious Rabbid droid... Sadly, the hulking black Rabbid at the start of the game (By the way, his name is Serguei) is never fought in those matches... though he'll often participate in the minigames. At the end of each Bunny Hunt minigame, Rayman saves a baby Globox.

Well, gee, this doesn't look very great... Hey everyone, I
totally need an interior decorator!
After the Bunny Hunt minigame has been beaten, Rayman comes out victorious... only to be picked up by Hulkrabbid-er, I mean, Serguei, and thrown in a jail cell. He also gets his trophy: A plunger. At first, his cell is dusty, ugly and not very welcoming. The Rabbids patrolling over his cell don't even watch him. There are a few options around his cell: He can go to the wardrobe to change his looks (over time, he unlocks alternate costumes), he can use the record player to listen to the songs he has unlocked, he can go on the toilet to re-view the games he has played that day (Again: It's important to play all the minigames on each in-game day)... and then there's a window high up. Huh, those Rabbids are smart, they at least know Rayman needs air to breathe. Sadly, while that window is wide open, it's located extremely high, way too high for Rayman. And each time he goes to look at that window, a little bird comes in, flies around the cell, poops on the limbless hero's nose and leaves. Gee, thanks for the little gift! I swear, when I get out of here, I'm gonna have myself a teeny bird cooked À la Rayman! (Seriously though, you learn to hate that damn bird after a while; you end up hating it more than you'll ever hate the Rabbids). And that's it for the first day.

"I thought I taw a puddy Tayman!
Let's poop on him!"
The next day, Serguei comes to get Rayman out of his cell and throws him in the arena again. Lather, rinse, repeat: Three odd minigames, one music minigame, one Bunny Hunt (or maybe something different), one saved baby Globox, one new plunger for the room. On the third day, Rayman looks towards the window and gets the birdie's little gift, once again. Screw you, bird! He then looks at the plungers, and an idea pops up. He starts sticking the plungers to the wall near the window. A makeshift ladder! He's gonna escape by that window! He just has to get more plungers. And hey, a few days in there isn't so bad, as long as he gets to bash Rabbids every now and then in the arena's minigames... 

Whoa! Thanks, mysterious interior decorator!
Look, there are fan Rabbids in the top left corner!
As time goes by, the Rabbids get happier and happier. After a while, Rayman's cell gets re-decorated. He is acclaimed. He even has a few fans now! Heck, there's a Rabbid on the bridge over his cell who keeps waving hello at our hero. Awwwww! Meanwhile, Rayman keeps building that ladder with plungers. It takes him 15 plungers, which means he's stuck with the Rabbids for about two weeks. Oh well. At least he saves baby Globoxes. Heck, after even longer, he becomes a Star. Serguei doesn't punch him anymore. There's a choir of Rabbids singing for him when he leaves his cell, and that same choir sings for him when he comes back. They even have gifts! Even Serguei sings with them while twirling a cane! There are more Rabbid Number One fans looking at him from the bridge. And Rayman's plungers have almost reached the window. Just a few more days...

Day 15. Rayman has defeated the mysterious robotic Rabbid named Pink, and he's got the final plunger. He brings it to his cell, sticks it at the very top, and finally catches that goddamn bird. Tonight, you'll be in a casserole, my little friend. Rayman gets out, enjoys freedom... until he passes by the place where he had picnic with the babies. He remembers that there are plenty of baby Globoxes to save still... and that now that he's gone, the baby Globoxes will become the Rabbids' playthings... His quest is not over! So he decides to head back to the coliseum... but then he jumps in one of the holes near the picnic place and gets stuck. The end.

"D'oh! Why did I jump into that hole anyway???"

And that's the plot. There is no better ending in this game. I don't mind it too much, but you've got to admit that such a downer ending really clashes with the overall tone of the entire game. Oh well.

Score Mode, with the high score table.
P.S. I couldn't find a picture like this with the Wii game,
hence the PlayStation buttons at the bottom. Sorry!
Now that this is done, you can move on to Score Mode. In this mode, you can play every single one of the 75 minigames in RRR. In Story Mode, you just had to beat the minigame, with a relatively low score required to beat it; here, the point is to get a high score. Once you've played the minigame, your score is then brough back to an amount of points between 0 and 1,000. While viewing the minigame's instructions, you can also check how many points are required to reach 1,000 points. I don't want to scare you, but... for most minigames in the collection, reaching 1,000 is nigh impossible. If it isn't literally impossible in the first place. That's the biggest problem with this game, in fact: No matter how much you try, you just can't reach the highest score on every minigame unless you cheat. Unless you're Hercules, you can't beat some of those games. Thankfully, that's not the case for every minigame; It is entirely possible to achieve a score of 1,000 on many of them, though it takes dedication. Insane dedication. And a ton of free time. And nerves of steel. And quick wits. And powerful muscles. And a great resistance to muscle strain.

I'm not exaggerating anything here. I tried beating my own high score on a minigame called “Bunnies Don't Know What To Do With Cows”. I played it, what, five times in a row? My back and my right arm ached for three days after that. What's the minigame about? Spinning the Wii remote over your head very, very, very quickly to toss a cow, and pressing B to toss it after you've gained enough speed. Many of the physical games in RRR will be hard on your muscles. You thought Just Dance was tiring? Hah! You ain't seen a thing, kid.

Once you've selected Score Mode, you can also play with up to three friends. Each player picks a costume for Rayman (out of the nine alternate costumes; you can even mix pieces of costumes if you want), and then you can select among the 75 minigames. However, you need to know that, for most minigames, you aren't playing all at once; No, it's one at a time. As in, you play, then your friend plays, then your next friend plays, and then the last friend plays. It's a lot longer that way, but hey, at least everyone gets to enjoy it.

That mode is split in four portions: Bunny Hunt, Sports, Challenges and Shake Your Booty. In Bunny Hunt Mode, you can replay any of the 15 Bunny Hunt minigames in three different ways: Survival, in which you must, well “Survive” (though you get more points by not being hit at all); Time, which will calculate your best time on each minigame; and Scores, in which you're playing to get the highest score by shooting most, if not all, of the Rabbids.

Workout game: Running like crazy because of an explosive gift!
Sports is where you'll find most of the minigames. They're separated in four sections: Workout, Skill, Get Going, and Precision. Playing all the Workout games on a single day is physically tiring and difficult. I never tried, but that's usually because my arms hurt by the seventh minigame in that section. Skill requires, well, skill. Precision requires great aim, but it doesn't hurt to have talent as well. Finally, the Get Going section is made of five racing minigames, three which are pretty similar, one which is Rayman falling down through rings of smoke, another is a race on the opposite direction of all the other racers. ...Yep, that's Rabbid logic for you.

Shake Your Booty contains all 15 music minigames. Keep in mind that to get high scores, you can't even allow yourself to have a single Rabbid shine in a yellow light. All the Rabbids must disappear in a white flash. Yellow flash? You've still hit the Rabbid, but apparently you were off-beat, and thus you lose all score multipliers you had collected so far. Goodbye high score! This sucks. Sure, it adds some challenge, but dammit, perfection is too hard to achieve!

Last but not least is the Challenges section. In it, there are many “challenges”; a “Challenge” is a collection of 3 to 10 minigames that you must beat in a precise order. As is the case for the single minigames, you can get a score up to 1,000 for each minigame, but once again, 1,000 is insanely hard to achieve. You unlock new Challenges by getting a certain amount of points; your score on 1,000 for all minigames (including Challenges) is added up, for a grand total of 183,000. Yep. That's a lot of points. But after a while it's gonna increase slowly... very slowly... because you've reached what is humanely possible to achieve in each minigame and you can't get much higher scores afterwards. And in fact, since you can't be on your A-game for every minigame and get 1,000 on every minigame on your first try, it's beyond impossible to get a perfect score on most Challenges. That's a problem when you want to unlock more Challenges or Bonus videos... Because those are unlocked once you collect enough points. And once you've reached your limit, you're pretty much stuck. And that's the problem with this game: To progress, you need to show superhuman abilities and always play perfectly. And it's impossible! So yeah. I'm not a fan of the Challenges. The are other reasons why I think that “Score” thing is poorly implemented in this game, but I'll explain in a bit.

The last two options are Audio Menu (in which you can change the volume of the music and the sound effects), and then Bonus. First there's Credits, and then a gallery of videos and concept art. All the items in the gallery are unlocked as you increase your total score in Score Mode. The final item to unlock in the Gallery requires 183,000 points. Yes. ALL the points. TO UNLOCK THE FINAL REWARD, YOU NEED TO GET A PERFECT SCORE ON EVERY SINGLE MINIGAME, INCLUDING CHALLENGES. And you can't even get it.

This one minigame destroys all of your hopes and dreams.
Or, at least, it prevents you from getting 100% completion.
Man, this sucks.
Why? Because there's a glitch in one of the minigames (specifically, the music minigame "Bunnies Dansa La Bamba 2") that causes the score to stop at 995. No matter how much you try, even if you get the highest possible score, you can't get 1,000 points. You know what else is annoying? That mini-game is also used twice in the Challenges, apparently. That means that even if you try your hardest and somehow manage to get the highest possible score on everything, you'll reach, at most, 182,985 points. Oh wait, it gets worse. To unlock the final Challenge, you pretty much need to have gotten 1,000 points on every single minigame and perfect score in every Challenge. That Challenge would have 10 minigames, for a total of 10,000 points maximum. It can't be unlocked because of the fucking glitch. And since it can't be unlocked, it means that unless you cheat, you'll never go beyond 172,985 points. Farewell final rewards! That really sucks.

Thankfully, this game doesn't. Final thoughts? It's actually pretty good. Look, of course there are problems. I'd even say the problems are big. Physically-straining minigames. Insane high scores, which you have to beat in order to unlock everything. Challenges that have the same insane requirements, except you must excel at every single minigame. In most cases, the gamers don't play all at the same time, instead they play each minigame one at a time, regardless of the minigame's length (that's for... about... 90% of all the minigames). Glitches that prevent 100% completion. Yes, those are problems. Some are HUGE problems.

MAYHEM! That's great.
But the question here is: Does any of that affect your enjoyment, your fun, your gaming experience as a whole? Well, some of those problems do. Straining minigames are good for exercise, sure, but you will not play many of them every day. The high scores (or, well, the score required to reach 1,000 points) are too high, so you'll most likely stop caring about that after a bit and just enjoy the wacky minigames as they are. The Challenges are pretty annoying too, but when I try them, I play to see if I can go through all of a Challenge's minigame and beat my last high score. In multipleyer mode, the fact that every player takes their turn playing the minigame (for most minigames, anyway) removes part of the fun; thankfully this was corrected in the other Raving Rabbids games. And it's still enjoyable to play with friends, even if you take turns.

That leaves my second major issue: That freaking glitch. The team at Ubisoft really should have checked that to make sure it was corrected before the game's release. That's what beta testers are for. This should have been dealt with. But considering how hard it is to reach 1,000 in most minigames, I don't think a lot of people will notice. Heck, it took hacking the game to find out about this glitch. But yeah, if you don't play to achieve 100% completion, you're fine.

The graphics in Rayman Raving Rabbids aren't of the highest quality; I would expect such quality to be in a GameCube game, but I guess it's not so bad. After all, the last thing we want is an overly-detailed Rabbid. Thankfully, it's still rather decent. There are some pretty dark areas, but thankfully the locations the minigames take place in are beautifully diverse, going from a dark graveyard to a pretty beach to the Wild West to caves to farms... Yeah, that's great. The music is very good, too. The songs that can be played in the music minigame are fun, and the music for some minigames is creative. I especially like the theme for the racing minigames.

As for the playability? That's what I like about this game: The minigames are simple, for the most part. You can pick up and play at any moment, and you can even explain them to casual gamers and they'll understand pretty quickly. The tough part is to become a pro at any of these minigames. There's something for everyone: Physical minigames for those who treat the Wii like their own gymnasium, skill and precision for those who enjoy a finer kind of gaming, race minigames for the fans of racing games, music minigames for fans of music games, and shoot'em-ups for fans of... well... you get the point.

I'm pretty sure Michel Ancel and the staff behind the Raving Rabbids games at Ubisoft are never going to read this; I am, after all, just a lowly video game reviewer who yells for no reason and whines a lot. Oh, and I swear quite a bit, too. ...But if they re-make this game someday, here are my suggestions:
-Decrease the score requirement to reach 1,000 points in every minigame, even if it's just by 10%. That would be perfect. OR
-Decrease the points requirement to unlock the next Challenges or Bonus videos.
-Maybe playable Rabbids?
-Maybe a way to interact with the Rabbids when Rayman is in the Coliseum. Like, I dunno, shaking the Wiimote to wave at the crowd.
-A fight against Serguei, the Rabbid Juggernaut.
-CORRECT THE GLITCH. This is not a suggestion, this is an order. Glitches aren't bad when they don't affect gameplay, or when they do something useful, but when they cause a game to be impossible to beat... Yeah, that's pretty awful.
-Maybe a happy ending for those who somehow manage to reach the maximum number of points (In fact, a lot of people thought the video unlocked at getting 183,000 points was a happy ending where Rayman saves the last baby Globoxes).

Then again, take those suggestions only if you re-make this game someday. Who knows, it could happen.


Well, that's all I had to say. Good game. Flawed. Very flawed. But extremely enjoyable once you look past its flaws and learn to enjoy the crazy world. Heck, I think I lost precious minutes of my life laughing at those Rabbids' antics. Though in the end, it's all worth it. It's one of those games that you can enjoy despite its problems, because it's just so darn funny, entertaining and challenging. And that's the Rabbids in a nutshell: They're a waste of time, but their games are great, so there are some far worse ways to waste your time out there.

How could I discuss this game even more? Why, by discussing my favorite and least favorite minigames, of course! Tune in this Monday, I'm counting down 12 minigames I dislike (if not outright hate) in Rayman Raving Rabbids, and then 12 minigames I like! Don't miss that!