After a quick jaunt away from the party game genre, the Rabbids are back doing what they know how to do best: competing in silly mini-games and wreaking havoc in the typically oblivious fashion that makes them so gosh darn loveable.
Raving Rabbids: Travel in Time brings the adorably psychotic bunnies back from their platform adventure in Rabbids Go Home, where they attempted to reach the moon by creating a towering staircase of collected junk. Now, the Rabbids, inside a magical washing machine, are on a time-traveling journey through world history, and as expected, slapstick, potty-humor hijinks ensue.
Travel in Time places you and up to three other players inside a history museum, which to Rabbids is not a place of learning, but rather a playhouse for their crazy games. The museum lobby serves as a 3D hub area which you can explore to access the main mini-game areas or discover smaller side activities, such as a bite-sized Just Dance clone, a trivia challenge and simple carnival-type games like a basketball shooting gallery.
There are right around 20 main mini-games divided into five categories accessible via five different branches of the museum. The Bouncearium area is home to platform- and puzzle-oriented challenges that essentially turn your Rabbid into a rubber bouncy ball, hopping through a scrolling environment to collect more beans than the opponent or pounding through numbered-blocks in a competition to earn the most points; the Shootarium consists of various light gun shooting events, including a fun wave-based gladiator arena in which you shoot swarms of incoming enemies and stay alive as long as you can; the Flyarium is where you go to take your Rabbid to the skies, tilting the Wii Remote and Nunchuk like the wings of a bird to steer to victory in flight races and other aerial activities; the Runarium offers a selection of team-based obstacle course races and collection games; and the Hookarium has you using the controllers like a fishing rod, casting your Rabbid with a forward thrust of the Wii Remote and reeling with a constant rotation of the Nunchuk to catch fish for points or as a makeshift grappling hook in a climbing race up the side of the Statue of Liberty.
Each mini-game also ties into a key historical event, including Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of electricity, the moon landing, the construction of the Statue of Liberty, the sinking of the Titanic and the inventions of fire and the wheel from the caveman era. When you complete a game, you then get to choose whether you want to let history play out normally or alter history in wacky Rabbid fashion. These alternate endings are a nice reward and serve as a clever design device to make a second replay more appealing.
This time-traveling premise is so perfect for the Rabbids brand, too, and the cut-scenes are packed with silly humor and presented in a cartoonish manner that is such a joy to behold. I also have to thank Ubisoft for dedicating a button – down on the D-pad – entirely to yelling, as it’s a simple delight being able to run a Rabbid around the museum screaming “BWAAH!” at the top of its lungs (this is also used to select mini-games and interact with certain objects, but screaming just for the sake of screaming is more fun!).
Unfortunately, the mini-games themselves hover right around average — and there really aren’t that many either. They control well without ever getting too heavy on unnecessary Wii waggle, and altogether they certainly are lighthearted fun, especially in a multiplayer party setting in the team-oriented games where teams of two compete against one another to win races or out collect the other and each player is tethered to his or her teammate by a roll of toilet paper in order to promote real cooperation. But, aside from the humorous plot attachment and the occasional laugh-out-loud multiplayer moment, there really isn’t anything new or unique to see that hasn’t been done in the countless other Wii party games, and too few of the activities stand out enough to inspire continuous play. I can’t help but be disappointed by the game’s lacking Wii MotionPlus functionality as well, with only the few games found in the Hookarium section putting the enhanced motion control technology to use. Noticeably slow load times are another drawback, and become an even greater obstacle once you realize that there is no way to retry the same game without exiting back to the lobby area and loading back in.
It’s a crying shame too, because all of the content surrounding the middling mini-games is exceptionally well done. The story, graphics and audio play into the comical setup beautifully, there are loads of cute costumes and achievements to collect, and the multiplayer implementation is among the best you’re going to find in a non-FPS Wii game. Up to four players can play together in local split-screen or online, and even though the game does use the Friend Code system for building a friend’s list, exchanging Friend Codes isn’t a requirement. If you just want to find a party online to play with, you can activate ‘Meet-Up’ mode and allow the game to automatically pair you up. The game does, however, limit connectivity between two consoles, so to get a full four-player online game going requires two local players at each end.
After only a few hours, it became clear to me that Raving Rabbids: Travel in Time is a game where the style and humor and presentation far outweigh the substance and execution of the gameplay. There are fun times to be had, but I don’t see enough staying power for this game to hold up beyond a family game night or two.
+ Bursting with goofy humor
+ Time-traveling story concept is well executed and presented
+ Strong multiplayer implementation
– Mini-games are largely forgettable after one or two tries
– Wii MotionPlus functionality limited to only a few events
– Slow load times make for a lot of downtime between mini-games
Release Date: 11/21/2010
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1-4 (split-screen and online)
Source: Review copy provided by publisher