I'm all for a good mini-game collection. The Wii is at its best when you're playing simple but fun games with friends, so Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 from Ubisoft looked like it would offer the perfect mix of gameplay and zany fun. The original game, which launched alongside the Wii last year, managed to ease the tempers of gamers disappointed by the lack of a traditional Rayman platformer, but Rabbids 2 will likely raise their concerns once again.
This year's game gets rid of the arena from the original, instead giving you five locations across the world to choose from. You jet off to each of these places and take part in mini-games. It's that simple. The single-player game isn't even as accomplished as the afterthought-like mode from the first game, and the story is practically non-existent.
Played alone Rabbids 2 really is a dull experience, with many of the mini-games simply not being exciting for the lone player. You can choose which difficulty you wish to attempt the mini-games at, but that really makes no difference to the challenge you'll face. Whether you're racing atop a warthog or trying to deliver a sandwich without losing too many layers, you'll wonder how such an uninspired collection ever managed to make it out of Ubisoft's door.
Thankfully Rabbids 2 has been designed with multiplayer gaming as the main focus. Mini-games that seemed trivial and downright dull when played alone suddenly offer a real challenge when played against friends and the added competitiveness raises the enjoyment factor tenfold. The sandwich game sees all the players bumping into each other, desperately trying to make it to their target, which is significantly better than you wandering around alone, with only your balance to worry about.
Returning to Rabbids 2 from the first game are the the on-rails shooting and rhythm mini-games. In Raving Rabbids the FPS on rails sections proved to be good fun, albeit rather simple. Here the developers have decided to take the series back to the past, with a retro FMV-based lightgun game feel to proceedings. The rabbids have been placed on recorded video footage of streets and other locations, and you simply shoot them. It makes these sections look rather poor and they feel at odds to the rest of the game.
The music sections see you moving the Nunchuck and Wii Remote in time with the on-screen icons. You get to choose which instrument you are supposedly playing, but it doesn't seem to change things too much. Unless you play on the hardest difficulty setting it's far too simple, and even then it's hardly going to raise a sweat for Guitar Hero veterans.
While many players might be able to forgive a few flaws because of the cuteness of the rabbids, which for the record aren't as funny this time around, it's near impossible to overlook the sheer number of poor mini-games. The collection on offer in the first game is far better, with only a handful of the 50 available here being good enough to come back to over and over again.
Wii game don't have to look amazing if the gameplay is solid, but at times Rabbids 2 looks like an early PS2 game, with the in-game graphics best described as crude. Considering so much creativity seemingly went into the development of Raving Rabbids as a new franchise, to play in such drab locations is a real disappointment. Many of the sound effects from the original also make a return, which will be good or bad depending on how much you loved the inane noises of the rabbids first time around.
It would be easy to give Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 an easy time simply because it's on the Wii and is a mini-game collection, but when the original game is a far more impressive game, Rabbids 2 has nowhere to hide. If played with friends you could get a weekend's entertainment out of it, but if you're new to the series, you're better off picking up the original.