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SummaryStark Raving Rabbids Mad
The GoodIn 2004, a game called Katamari Damacy was released on the PlayStation 2. The game rolled in the face of the increasing "realism" that games were attempting to convey at the time by viewing our world through an off-kilter lens. Katamari Damacy featured outsiders from a distant world attempting to solve their problems by collecting all of our junk.
Rabbids Go Home, released five years and one console generation later, reminds me of Katamari Damacy, in that it also features characters from a distant world attempting to solve their problems by collecting all of our junk by travelling through a warped version of our world. Not that the game really looks, acts, or sounds like Katamari Damacy in any way, shape or form. But the tone and premise of Rabbids Go Home brings back memories of the PS2 game, in more ways than one.
Rabbids Go Home, the fourth game in Ubisoft's Raving Rabbids series, takes a markedly different turn, possibly for the better. While the first three games in the series were minigame collections, this one is a full-blown game in its own right.
The story of this game, though incredibly thin, is so out there that you might chuckle a little just hearing about it. One night, while relaxing in the junkyard, the Rabbids decide that the moon is their home. However, lacking both brains as well as financial resources to actually reach the moon, the Rabbids decide to build a pile of junk so high that they will be able to get to their new-found home. Where will they be getting all of this junk from? The city located just outside the junkyard.
There isn't much development beyond this one setup, but the game's main goal is as a vehicle for it's own twisted take on our modern world. The game tries nearly every type of comedy out there. You've got toilet humor (quite literally), slapstick, sight gags, as well as subtler satirical dialog. Of course, the game can only go so far given it's E10+ rating. None of this is really laugh-out-loud stuff, at least not if you're over the age of 12, but I'm sure that even the most jaded person will find something to at least crack a smile at. I'm not a comedy reviewer, but it's necessary to mention it here since humor is the biggest part of the game's appeal. In fact, the game even bills itself as "A Comedy Adventure".
As the game is almost entirely based around humor, the gameplay definitely takes a backseat, though it's by no means bad. In fact, it's quite unique, and may even be the only game where you play a rabbit controlling a shopping cart.
Rabbids Go Home is essentially a shopping cart collection platformer. You use the analog stick on the Nunchuk to maneuver the shopping cart around each stage. Holding down the A button allows you to make the cart move faster. When it gets up to speed, you can press the B button to give it a boost, which is necessary for getting over some gaps. Shaking the Wii remote lets out a yell from your Rabbids, which is necessary for getting items out of vending machines, destroying obstacles, and even knocking the clothes off of humans down to their undies!
The goal is to collect as much junk as possible. Most of the junk is laid out to you in obvious, easy-to-follow lines, but some junk requires some platforming and even racing skill to reach. You'll have to cause as much of a ruckus as possible without falling into a gap or losing all health. If you lose all health, you lose all items that you collected up to that point. The game doesn't allow backtracking through a level which means that you can't die if you want the best possible scores. Thankfully, the game offers checkpoints in each level, represented by Rabbids holding a tuba. You simply stop by the tuba and press A to transfer all of the stuff inside of it, saving it in your final score for the level.
As you play the environments get increasingly hazardous. You'll travel through shopping malls, office buildings, airports, construction sites, beachside resorts, farms, hospitals, and even nuclear power plants. As you get further into the game, you'll have to face both human as well as canine enemies, all of whom wear special Anti-Rabbid suits that repeatedly fail to provide protection to their wearers, all thanks to the player's doing. There are even a few levels in the game where you control vehicles other than a shopping cart. There's an inflatable patient's bed that you use to float between rooftops of skyscrapers. There's also an inner tube, and even a jet engine which you also get to ride, though the vast majority of stages take place in the traditional shopping cart.
The graphics aren't especially impressive, but they're certainly not terrible either. Everything has a cute, yet moderately edgy cartoon style that fits well with the game's comedy bent. Vocal performances from the game's characters and Rabbids are predictably over the top, but that's to be expected in a cartoon game such as this.
Perhaps the most surprisingly good aspect of the presentation is the game's music. There are two types of music that are featured in the game. First is a sort of fast-paced, zany brass band that is representative of the Rabbids. You can even record a bit of music in this style as well using the game's simple music maker. The second type of music is licensed pop. This is possibly one of the greatest licensed soundtracks to ever appear in a non-music game. I'm not sure if perhaps Ubisoft is trying to invoke a self-consciously "boring" atmosphere with these songs or if they're being serious, but either way these songs are extremely catchy and memorable and like them or not, you will find yourself singing along to them after hearing them enough times. The soundtrack is believably integrated into the gameplay, as you'll hear it coming from radios in the background rather than overlaid over the game's audio. There's a really humorous contrast to having the wacky action onscreen being accompanied by John Denver, Janis Joplin, Harry Belafonte, and Peter, Paul and Mary. I would honestly love to have all of these songs on my iPod. Strangely, the song licenses are not listed in the game's manual. I actually had to Shazam this game with my phone a couple of times just to figure out what awesome song was playing. Even if you don't want to play the game, at least check these songs out, and play them in front of your favorite video game.
The BadI'm not sure that the gameplay is really strong enough to support the length of time the game takes to complete. Though at first the game impresses you with its seemingly endless variety of locations, objects, and gags, it isn't long before you've seen them all and repetition sets in. You'll see the same environments, the same characters, the same music over and over again until you're sick of it. Even the level design shows signs of laziness, with entire ROOMS repeated exactly for different stages.
This is just a personal opinion, but the Rabbids just aren't funny to me. In fact, I find them to be quite annoying. They take great pleasure in abusing and humiliating the human world in their own innocent and cartoonish ways, and their shtick got old three games ago. I'm stunned at just how popular these ugly, hideous things have become. The cutaway gags, which happen in the middle of most levels, are annoying both for the Rabbids themselves and the fact that they kill the game's otherwise solid pacing. Everything else surrounding the Rabbids is amusing, but there's a big black hole where the stars of this game should have shined.
Finally, the product placement in this game is simply ridiculous. There's only one brand being advertised in this game, Capri Sun, but man, do they really push it on you. You'll see it on billboards, and taking up entire sides of skyscrapers, seemingly every other level. One of the Rabbid gags is even a recreation of the "Respect the Pouch" ad campaign that Capri Sun was running back in '09. I know that the game is intended to be a parody of the modern world, but perhaps maybe they could have been a bit less overt with this product placement, or even cut it from the game altogether.