Clearly the Rabbids never got the memo about behaving well in public, nor the one that explained about not repeatedly singing annoying songs over and over again, nor the note that went into detail about not making humans take off their clothes while out and about. The Rabbids, the "loveable" little rabbit-like creatures that first appeared alongside Rayman, are back on the Wii with Rabbids Go Home - a release that isn't a collection of mini-games, but a madcap adventure which ranks as their best game to date.
The setup is one of the most random, bizarre ideas ever to grace a video game. The Rabbids have grown tired of their noisy habitat outside a major city, and see the Moon as the ideal quiet getaway. The problem is that there's no way to get to there, so they set out in a shopping trolley about collecting "stuff" from "stuff places". Once the pile of collected stuff is big enough they'll be able to climb up to the Moon and have a well-earned sleep That's the plot. It's completely bonkers, but serves to give you a reason to collect hundreds of thousands of items.
While the Rabbids have their own home, in which you can learn new moves and collect stuff as well as see how high your pile of stuff has become, the main hub is Center City. Here you'll be able to access numerous levels, each containing plenty of small and large objects to collect. It's only in these levels that you'll be able to get hold of the larger stuff, and with each being the equivalent of 600 small items, they're essential if you're going to reach the moon.
Gameplay couldn't be simpler. You steer the Rabbid-driven shopping trolley around using the Nunchuck's analogue stick; by driving over items highlighted by a white circle around them, you add them to your trolley (a friend can also join in, collecting items by pointing at them with the on-screen reticule). By shaking the Nunchuck your Rabbids scream, smashing items into smaller pieces or, amusingly, scaring the clothes off the back of the many people wandering about minding their own business. These discarded or broken-down items can then be added to your trolley. Throughout levels you'll come across French horn-playing Rabbids, and these guys will collect your loot so that it's safe from potential disasters later on.
Much of the game sees you whizzing about on four-wheels, but there are elements of platforming, some neat if simple puzzles, and plenty of crazy humour. Before too long you'll be able to perform turbo boosts, letting you reach platforms that a normal cart couldn't get near, and find springing platforms and vents that let you move from one isolated platform to another. Levels outside of Center City are fairly linear (although one or two have less-than-obvious areas to get to), but you'll frequently get to use new gizmos. The trolley driving is perfectly pitched to be simple while also feeling permanently on the edge of going completely wrong; at times it's as if you're driving a rally car around a supermarket, and that mechanic alone makes Go Home great fun.
It's not all trolley-driving either, with various other modes of transportation cropping up throughout the Rabbids' adventure. We won't spoil them for you, but each is as much fun as the last, and your rides often move at breakneck speed. Compared to other platformers (a term we use loosely here) Rabbids Go Home doesn't present much in the way of enemy threat, but you do come across foes that need to be shouted at in order to make them collectable, and others that need to be avoided, such as the pesky cleaning robots that hate the mess your trolley's wheels leave behind.
Go Home also lets you customise your on-screen Rabbids, drawing tattoos on them, giving them unlocked accessories and even deforming their facial features. This all adds to the game's charm. There's undoubtedly been a lot of love thrown into this Wii exclusive, and that's no more apparent than in the completely non-essential mini-game set inside the Wii Remote. In a nutshell, one of your Rabbids gets sucked into the controller you're holding, and you're then able to mess about with them by pressing the buttons and by shaking and tilting it. It's surprisingly fun and an excellent time sink that is sure to have great appeal to younger gamers.
We're used to seeing fairly unpolished Wii games, but Ubisoft has done a great job with the graphics here. The team at Ubisoft Montpelier has built the game to the console's strengths, opting for simple stylised characters and colourful, non-repeating environments. In short the world of Rabbids Go Home looks superb, with plenty going on, some excellent lighting effects and brilliant characterisation achieved with virtual characters akin to Nintendo's own Miis.
The Rabbids aren't half annoying though. They're noisy creatures, with their main ditty being the most catchy, whistle-friendly, and downright irritating tune we've heard in ages. It's played whenever you bank your stuff, which happens a lot, so be prepared to loose at least part of your sanity and to be the enemy of anyone who happens to be in earshot. It's a charming game, though, with a wonderful licensed soundtrack that provides a stark contrast to the chaotic gameplay. You get tunes from the likes of John Denver and Bony M - not your usual video game soundtrack by any means.
Once you've learnt the key gameplay mechanics, Rabbids Go Home presents never really ramps up the challenge level, but it's all so fast-paced and fun that it doesn't matter. It's a game that's unlikely to challenge hardcore gamers, but it's an enjoyable ride that kids and adults alike are sure to enjoy. The whole adventure is bonkers from start to finish, and it's all the better for it. Rabbids Go Home won't be held up alongside true genre classics, but it's one of the best Wii games released this year and is sure to put a smile on your face.