The Rabbids are a funny bunch. That is to say they're actually amusing, not just a bit odd in the head. Say what you like about the various Rabbids mini-game collections and the Rabbids Go Home Wii game, but Ubisoft has always managed to make the creatures themselves the main attraction. They've got such a following that a Rabbids fan club exists, complete with magazine and free gifts. Rabbids 3D, a 2D platformer in 3D for the 3DS, sadly completely misses the point, with their lovable personalities never given the chance to shine.
As in the Rabbids' previous Wii entry, Raving Rabbids: Travel in Time, a super-charged washing machine is able to send the little critters to different times on Earth, starting in the obligatory Prehistoric period, then ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and finally Medieval England. With over 50 levels across the four periods, there's a decent amount of game here, but the problem is that the level design rarely exceeds the kind of thing you might be able to create given a good chunk of time and a level creation kit. Super Mario World this is not.
You can run, jump, thwack, grab, throw and bounce, and make use of a number of pick-ups, such as invincibility and wonder jump - which do exactly what you expect. Scuba gear is also on hand should you come across any deep water, allowing you to swim about and dart into enemies.
More advanced moves are explained as you progress, such as the running long-jump and butt slam, but anyone with a degree of platforming experience will whiz through the stages untroubled. Using the butt slam to knock a box into the air, which you can then use to jump onto a previously out of reach platform, is a creative spark in an otherwise straightforward game, but the idea is never used to create intelligent puzzles.
Other neat ideas, such as a moving platform that needs pedalling forward by jumping from ledge to ledge, show what Rabbids 3D could have been if not for the basic implementation. While Rabbids appeals to younger gamers, the very same kids are able to complete New Super Mario Bros. Even with some slightly fiddly controls, that force you to hold down too many buttons than you'd like, Rabbids 3D will be a walk in the park to most players.
Seeing as the Rabbids are limited in their interaction with you (you're controlling one as it runs across the screen), the levels had to have enough personality to make up for the missing creature shenanigans. Sadly there's very little personality here. Take the prehistoric levels, for example: you only actively engage with a dinosaur in one stage and even here you're simply running from a T-Rex that looks menacing in the background. Ancient Egypt doesn't even have one memorable moment.
Completed missions can be replayed in two alternative game modes: Time Attack and Mission. In Time Attack you simply have to finish the level as quickly as possible, earning a bronze, silver or gold award if you're fast enough, while Mission mode sets you goals such as destroying every breakable object and finishing the level without losing a life. By completing these challenges you'll unlock bonus content, while dispatching of enemies through the story will earn you new outfits to dress your Rabbid up in.
Previous Rabbids titles haven't been technical showcases, but have had a strong visual identity and fun art style. Rabbids 3D doesn't do much with its four different time periods and the most fun comes from the odd bug that flies onto the screen - which looks nice in 3D. The Rabbids' sense of humour rarely comes through, although it is fun to dress them up in completely inappropriate costumes. 3D looks decent, but there's only so much that can be done with a side-scrolling platformer and the frame rate isn't as smooth as it should have been.
Rabbids 3D is an enjoyable 2D platformer, but like much of the 3DS' launch line-up it doesn't offer anything wholly original or outstanding. As the only 2D platforming title available for the handheld Ubisoft might find Rabbids 3D achieves strong sales, but surely Nintendo will deliver something considerably better in the future.