To me, Ubisoft's Rabbids are probably the most annoying thing in the history of annoying things. I just don't like them. I have to admit that the first game on the Wii was pretty fun, but it more than satisfied my need for annoying, raving critters. Hence, I did not bother with any of the sequels.
Nevertheless I took it upon myself to once again ride the crowded train to Gamescom today to check out the Rabbid's first stint on Nintendo's Wii U, titled Rabbids Land. And while it didn't blow me away (who would've expected it to?), I now believe that Rabbids Land has the potential to be one of the better Wii U launch titles when the system finally sees the fluorescent lights of stores everywhere.
In short, the game is a bite-sized version of Mario Party. You throw dice, move your Rabbid across a board and trigger the occasional minigame or event. The boards are significantly smaller than those found in Mario's shindigs and there are only 20+ minigames. However, these are complemented by Trivia sessions, where one player has to answer an offbeat question ("What is a human cyclophobic afraid of?") while the other players can bet on the outcome. (The answer is "bicycles", by the way.) The Wii U controller is utilized in clever ways and the motion controls (when required) actually work pretty well.
The game looks great. Since the wascally wabbits have invaded a theme park this time around, everything is really colorful and basked in a neon glow. The animations are also top notch as usual. The personality of the Rabbids is what makes the franchise thrive, and the designers and animators at Ubisoft have really mastered the art of conveying it with a simple art style. The game has charm in spades and isn't afraid to beat you over the head with it.
Rabbids Land does not feature any online multiplayer because the developers tried to focus on creating a true party experience. Cry foul if you want, but these types of games really only work when you can punch your opponent in the ribs or fart in his potato chips when he's sitting next to you on the couch. DLC is not planned either, although the game will be U-Play enabled.
Is Rabbids Land the reason to buy a Wii U? No. But it's a solid party game, lovingly crafted and well executed. If you've got a hankerin' for mayhem and want to test drive Nintendo's new console and controller with some of your friends, you could do worse than invite these little critters into your home. Just make sure to hide your potato chips.
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