Anyone who has owned rabbits as pets before, and in particular anyone who has dared to have house trained free-roaming rabbits, will know that, despite their cutesy image, they are actually anarchic little devils.
If the fluffy fiends were humans they would probably sport leather jackets and tattoos, and likely hang out behind rough pubs smoking and snarling. In reality the riotous rodents go with games like fire goes with shell suits. They chew through cables and game cases, pull controllers from hands and try to get romantic with consoles at any given opportunity.
Playing Raving Rabbids 2 for the first time, any rabbit owner will immediately get a fairly strong sense that the game's developers have themselves spent time with the fox-baiting hell-raisers. This second entry in the Rayman offshoot series, is little more than another Wii mini-game collection, but the feel for humour, character and mischief it brings with it is irresistible.
Essentially imparting the Rabbid stars with the personalities of the 1980's movie monsters the Gremlins, Ubisoft's latest Nintendo exclusive lets the player help the misguided, moronically intelligent bunnies in their quest to take over the world. Whereas previously the Rabbids were all set to overthrow Rayman's universe, this time they have come to earth, but in their haste have made the poignant error of mistaking a shopping centre for the centre point for organising our culture.
Raving Rabbids 2 is a game that is as much about character as gameplay, and it certainly has plenty to share. The bunnies that fill its mini-games have a demented feel and look about them, and have an equal disregard for themselves, each other, and the humans they are here to defeat. Simultaneously hilariously cheeky and mindlessly malevolent, they are best described as something like a combination of Dom Jolly, Shaun of the Dead's zombies and bumbling Tory Boris Johnson. Though technically the game is nothing revolutionary, both the animation and wonderfully inane facial expressions of the game's delightful psychopaths are what makes Raving Rabbids 2 so appealing.
There are plenty of customisation options, as is a must for about every game released in the past couple of years, to add some more depth of character to the game. Most focus on parodies of film clichés, and many, such as the Spider-Man and Batman costumes, seem to skate pretty close to the boundaries of copyright law. From dressing your rabbid as cowboy to pirate, most are good humoured but apparently do little to the dynamic of the game.
But what of the mini-games that make up the substance of Raving Rabbids 2? Only four were available to play, and though they certainly don't do anything revolutionary, they deftly juggle enjoyable pick up and play party gaming with chaotic humour and workable Wii controls.
The best of those games used the tilt controls in the Wii remote to steer a rabbid waiter carrying an increasingly over-stacked plate through a restaurant to a greedy customer. Quite how it ties into the world domination storyline is unclear, but guiding what felt like a drunken old oaf with a wobbling stack of food pulling him with gravity was great fun. Competing with another human player so you could both stagger into one another and make your rival's job even harder was brilliant, turning the age-old practice of an inebriated walk home with a mate into a highly competitive mini-game.
A rhythm-action feeling bucking bronco game was also hilarious, if a little easy, and required you to swing the remote in certain ways to maintain balance and keep your crazed bunny from falling to the floor. Again, any connection with the game's plot was dubious, but in Raving Rabbid's chaotic world it didn't seem to matter.
The other two games included a rather basic baseball game and fantastic spitting contest that seemed to even have some potential as a single-player test of skill. Of course mini-game compilations need to include some playable nuggets of gaming dynamite, and too many don't, but they aren't supposed to provide an epic and immersive gaming experience. Their humour and character is equally important, but what they really must do is give a group of friends with a complete mixture of gaming experience the chance to have a good laugh and look a bit stupid. On the Wii they must turn players into a whirling dervish of spinning arms and twisting bodies, and must absolutely be equally playable sober or drunk.
With only four games on offer it is too early to pass any worthwhile judgement, and the DS version remains a mystery, but Raving Rabbids 2 definitely has the potential to be far better than so many substandard mini-game compilations. It is absolutely anarchic, silly and carefree, and it won't chew through your Nunchuck wire or defecate in piles around your bedroom.