Kick things off on the Story mode and you'll be treated to a brief cut-scene. Rayman is enjoying a nice picnic with his Globox friends when Rabbids suddenly emerge from the ground and kidnap the group. Before long Rayman is in the middle of a huge coliseum, packed with hostile bunnies. From now on and for their own amusement the Rabbids plan to put their captive through a series of trials.
On the graphical front Rayman is little more than a polished GameCube game. Factor in some occasional poor textures and the lack of wide screen support and things turn sour. Thankfully they pick straight back up when you turn off the technical critique and notice the charm, style and general brilliance of the Rabbids. Technically things are poor, or they certainly don't excel, but creatively it is one of the best games around. In terms of sound it is the exact same scenario, mediocre production value yet still excellent. It would take a cold man, woman or child to not fall instantly in love with the Rabbids. They dream of world domination and view spatulas, fly swatters and bog plungers as ideal tools to lay siege on the Rayman universe. From their gormless looks through to crazy gibberish, which surprisingly does not grate, they are simply brilliant.
Yielding such talent it is no surprise that UbiSoft have developed some of the most unique functions for the Wii Remote and Nunchuk attachment, which are both required to play this game. When your first challenge includes a French Maid Uniform, chains and tossing you know this is all a little bit out there. But before we delve too deep into gameplay it must be noted that there's around 75 minigames for players to beat, and around 35 different ways in which you move to control a game. Certainly a daunting task to review, with over four A4 sides of documentation (hindsight is a marvellous thing...), so we'll walk you through day one before pointing out some highlights of the Wii Remote functionality.
Day One: 'Bunnies are fantastic dancers' - In this mode Rayman stands on a front and central dancing stage, with bunnies coming through on a conveyer belt and in time to the music. When the bunnies hit either the left or right platform you must perform a vertical strike with the corresponding controller, all in time to the music and for points - you need 750 to progress. The Nunchuk gets a little sensitive if you get too carried away with "alternative" moves, but the track choice is simply superb. Look out for La Bamba, Misirlou (the Pulp Fiction theme) and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun covers! 'Bunnies like to stuff themselves' - a dining Rabbid requests food and the player must hold A on the Wii Remote to draw around a stencil of that food. There's a set time to reach the desired points, and various scoring levels depending on draw quality, with food ranging from pizza to baseballs before the Rabbid falls off its seat successfully gorged.
'Bunnies don't know what to do with cows' - Swing the Wii Remote like a cowboy lasso and press B to launch the cow when you build up speed, all with a distance objective. 'Bunnies don't give gifts' - a Rabbid gives Rayman an explosive parcel and within a set time you must simulate running on the Wii Remote and Nunchuk by beating them up and down. The computer controls the high-speed dash through the scenery, before unloading the explosive parcel on poor Professor Barranco (the head-bandage bunny). 'Bunnies have a soft spot for plungers' - an on-rails first person shooter, where Rayman must blast a horde of Rabbids before rescuing his Globox pal. Aim with the Wii Remote pointer, shoot with B and reload with a shake of the Nunchuk for some great first person blasting.
On each of the fifteen days the same door holds the dancing game, first with different tracks then with ramped up difficulty. It's one feature that certainly works a treat and gamers familiar with Samba Di Amigo or Donkey Konga will feel right at home. Other repeat offenders include the running motion from Bunnies don't give gifts, this is found in other circumstances such as launching a super bunny from a rail cart, with speed determining launch distance when the inevitable collision occurs. The final trial is often the fantastic first person minigames, lasting around five minutes, but it can also be a Mario Kart clone with Rayman on a Warthog.
More unique games appear at random; whack-a-
moleRabbid with point and nun-shake control, the same control for slamming doors on bunnies, marble madness with the Wii Remote acting as the table, turning the Wii Remote like a key to steer a sky diving Rayman or operate a winch, pull worms from a Rabbids teeth by aiming the Wii Remote and pulling with the Nunchuk. We could go on for another few paragraphs with the sheer number of unique and entertaining functionality and still not cover it all. Rayman gets you pulling, pumping, stabbing, shaking, turning, twisting, swinging, aiming, thrusting and flicking for around ten to fifteen hours of laugh out loud brilliance. Time and again it's the sheer character of your scenery, the actions taking place and the Rabbids that make this a fantastic gaming experience.
Not content with the Story mode and you'll be pleased to hear Score mode supports multiplayer and not just single player score beating. Sometimes in direct competition and others in turn based battle, Score mode looks to repeat all the humour and charm but this time for more people to enjoy. If we're forced to pick any faults with Rayman Raving Rabbids the most obvious is the later repetition in some minigames and controls, and the graphical and audio capabilities are not at full Wii potential. Likewise one minigames, Bunnies have natural rhythm, just does not work. It was the one game where pressing A would have been more fun than trying to flick a Wii Remote to punch a Rabbid. Indeed, moving away from faults and back to the many good qualities, we can see this game working on a "normal" game controller, but we just can't see it being half as fun. Perhaps the bunnies charm will help, but the Wii version most certainly has to be the best version money can buy.