Sunday, January 11, 2015

VGR Rabbids Go Home

A comedy-adventure starring the Rabbids!


VGR: Rabbids Go Home: A Comedy Adventure and also The Raving Rabbids: The Great Adventure (also, known in France as Les Lapins Crétins : La Grosse Aventure) or simply Rabbids Go Home
From Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft Sofia/Mindscape (PC port)/Ubisoft Entertainment 
Played on Wii
Also available on PC & DS

Type Collect-a-thon platformer
Year 2009

Following the release of Rayman 3, the Rayman series would end up taking an unvolntary hiatus for a few years.

The original planned Rayman 4 was entirely scrapped altogether and revamped into a mini-game compilation known as Rayman Raving Rabbids. And quite quickly, the Rabbids took over the Rayman franchise until it became its own separate sub-franchise.

When Ubisoft finally took Rayman out of the way (and from the title), the Rabbids were given their very own first major platform title. This is this game.

Rabbids Go Home is the overall fourth game in the Raving Rabbids series. Originally all party game titles, "Go Home" is the rare instance in which the Rabbids are not starring in one, but the series would soon return to minigame collections ditching both Rayman from the title and the "Raving" part as well following this most innovative entry in this Rayman sub-franchise.

The first Rabbids game without any proper appearance of Rayman in it as well. Which was for the best to be honest (they kept dragging him down), which allowed much more freedom in that regard.

Rabbids Go Home also marked another special occasion. The game was the first one released using Ubisoft's brand new engine. The all-new Ubisoft proprietary engine, the LyN engine, originally developed under Rayman's creator Michel Ancel's supervision for the yet to be officially announced Beyond Good & Evil 2 which keeps suffering some huge delays. Which made Rabbids Go Home in fact the first game that gave us the ability to see the new engine running. But since the 2nd Beyond Good and Evil game is still locked in a long development, Go Home ended being the first test run for it. The LyN engine is able to power games running on newer-generation systems and maximize graphics easily once porter down to simpler consoles. And it made the game look great, it's easily one of the best and rare instances where a game's using the Wii to its  maximum graphical capabilities without limiting the art direction as much for the system as possible.

Since the Rabbids took the focus out of Rayman in his own games, their first proper big adventure without Rayman's presence went back to the roots and it's a pure platformer game.

To keep Rabbids fresh, fun and original, Ubisoft decided to use them here with their first proper storyline.

In this game you control two main Rabbids running around with a shopping cart.

After invading planet Earth, the Rabbids are now bored and sad. There's nothing to do around anymore. It's time to finally head back home... But where's that? They come up with a silly plan. They're gonna steal as much stuff as possible and make a huge pile of junk to head to the moon!!

The story is told via pretty fun 2D-animated cutscenes.

The gameplay is pretty simple and straightforward. In pure video game tradition, the game has the player collect as many items as possible. Only this is one of the rare times that this ties directly into the plot of the game.

The Rabbids are stealing as much stuff from the humans as possible to make this large pile of garbage to finally reach the Moon!! (and "Go Home"??)

It's a crazy story enough to keep you entertained. And it's such an hilarious game! Rabbids Go Home has a great sarcastic tone, in a sort of anti-megacorporation kind of way (almost ironic when you see how huge Ubi's become, thanks to the Assassin's Creed IP these last few years).

The game has a really fun anarchist vibe that really works wonders with the Rabbids. A fun play with mass consumption in a sort of retro-style (thanks to the musics used in the game).

It's a fairly typical collect-a-thon platformer, where you have to go all around these stages collecting all kinds of items while avoiding and facing enemies - the "Verminators" who are out trying to stop and contain the Rabbids invasion.

The game also uses the same sort of scoring system used in most recent Rayman platform games.

Each few stages the Rabbids will grab one last special "extra large stuff" you have to carry down the toilets (like the rest at the end of each level). These extra large stuff are usually found either in the middle or at the end of levels. Which often directly affects the gameplay. Such as a jet engine that is used to propel the Rabbids around at a huge speed (making it almost racing levels). A quarantine bed will allow them to float. Etc.

You can also locate "collector Rabbids" that work as check points, where you can drop everything you've collected so far.

Health is represented by light bulb "ideas", the number of damages you can take. You obtain a few more from time to time.

The game is fairly intuitive. You control the shopping cart via the nunchuk, there's a boost button you need to keep pressed through the entire game (Ubisoft's method to have the player running in most of their games by forcing the player to always keep a button down). There's a BWAAAAH!-attack you do by simply shaking the remote, which can stun humans... and make them lose their clothing! Which you also need to steal.

Like classic Rayman games from which Rabbids Go Home seems to take a lot of cues, you will unlock some new features as you progress through the game. Such as the ability to make a turbo-boost whenever you "drift" the cart.

There's also a third player-controlled Rabbid you don't see on screen, which you can launch from "inside the Wiimote" to the game screen, to either stun enemies or activate some marked places.

There's two main HUB areas in Go Home. One is the city dumb, where the Rabbids live, you will go back there every new set of stages completed to see how high the garbage pile reaches so far. And there's "Center City" from where you can access all the stages, this area has its own stuff to collect, people to annoy and even increasingly more foes to fight there as the story goes on.

Rabbids Go Home contains several mini-games, albeit to a lesser extend to the actual Raving Rabbids series of course. From time to time the game prompts you to drawn a Rabbid into the Wii remote itself, where you can bounce it around or perform a few mini-games.

The game also gives you the ability to customize all there player Rabbids (the two pushing the cart and the third you can throw at the screen). "Inside Ze Wii Remote" you can either torture your Rabbids or just play with them. There's several tools to customize your three Rabbids. You can stretch their faces, deflate their head, add all kinds of tattoos, pattern, details or also color them the way you want to! You can spend hours there and make 'em your own! And finally that's where you can select a few challenges with them, which you unlock through the main game.

Anyway, it's a fairly long game. It can get a bit tricky here and there, even if the game's generally pretty simple. Levels can be sometimes huge, despite the game being pretty linear and straightforward it still can offer a lot to explore and do around.

The one real downside is how random the level selection seems to be. I think a more classic ordered progression would have worked great for the game, instead it seems to always give you the same few levels since they're not organized in any way (unlike classic early 3D platformers that used to give you a set of similar themed levels each "world").

The music is simply fantastic! It perfectly suits the game! It was brilliantly composed by a French-Romanian gypsy brass band, "Fanfare Vagabontu". Inspired from Romanian folk music. It's simply genius and so addictive! The game also makes use of several classic licensed songs that really work great creating the mood and atmosphere of the game. There's a few classics in there such as "Come Go With Me" by The Del-Vikings, "Louie Louie" by Richard Berry, "Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver, "Jamaica Farewell" by Harry Belafonte, "Somebody to Love" by Jefferson Airplane, "I Told You So" by The Delfonics, "Smarty Pants" by First Choice, "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul and "Rivers of Babylon" by Boney M. Usually these come out radios and speakers found through the game (which can be destroyed to get back to the usual loud zany music).

Overall, despite not having Michel Ancel involved, this was one of these rare entries in the series where the game turned out great, to be honest.

Rabbids Go Home received huge praise at the time, thanks to its fantastic tone, great humor and a just perfect soundtrack. Such a fun gameplay!

It's a pretty fun inventive game, easily one of the best uses of the Wii controls. It's really simple to get a handle on. And looks simply gorgeous, particularly those rare few times where it takes the Rabbids outside the usual malls and airports (such gorgeous countryside, beach and mountain settings! A shame we don't see those much).

Really inspired and almost ambitious. Highly Recommended for any platform fan and Wii owner!

I would personally rate the PC port 1/3 and suggest you avoid it if you're not able to get your hands on the original Wii version since it was a heavily modified and much shorter version of the original game. Most content was cut from it, all the inside Wii remote features were taken out and the game was cut down to 16 levels only (from the original 30 stages!). It was only originally released to a select few countries in Europe (France, Germany, Russia..).

As for the Nintendo DS version, it's something completely different. Despite following generally the same plot, it's a completely different and unrelated beast (but that will be the subject for another time). Also completely different from the rest of the Rabbides series, it's more of a puzzle game.

My only complaint with Rabbids Go Home is that it was sadly the first and the last time the Rabbids were given such an original and unique title (thus far). It's the only Rabbids game to be a proper action game, a nice break from all party game genre. But at least it got Rayman freed out from the Rabbids, which means the next time we would get to see him was in his fantastic true return to form and the best game I've played in ages - Rayman Origins!

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Bruces!

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