These days, with the recent release of Paul’s Shooting Adventure and Paul’s Monster Adventure, it seems as though Agetec is trying to claim the title of "most bizarre games available on DSiWare". Keeping the tradition alive, now the company's released Rabi Laby, a hybrid puzzle platform game that has players controlling two characters who must work together in order to escape each labyrinthine level.
The game starts off when Rabi, a white rabbit, jumps into a hole in the side of a tree and Alice, a young girl, jumps in to chase after him. They end up in a strange and mysterious land in which they must work together to find their way out. Beyond that, there isn’t much story here, similarities to Alice in Wonderland aside. Between certain stages you'll see short scenes of silly dialogue between Alice and Rabi, but they do nothing to advance the story. Fortunately, with puzzle games like this, a great story is not always necessary.
The gameplay is incredibly simple, and the goal in each stage never changes. It is up to you to safely navigate Alice to the exit door in each stage by using Rabi as an aid. All Alice is capable of doing on her own is moving from left to right and jumping short distances, so it is necessary to utilise Rabi’s high jumps and exploding ability in order to find your way to the door. Some rooms have doors that must be unlocked by collecting certain keys, and some have other characters that can get in your way or help you solve the room’s puzzle. While there is no actual game over or life count, some stages have enemies and traps that will instantly kill Alice or Rabi, causing you to restart the stage.
When you complete each stage, you're awarded a ranking medal depending on how quickly you reached the goal door. While it's not necessary to get the highest ranking in order to advance to the next room, this goal system does add a bit of replayability to the stages, all of which can be revisited whenever you see fit.
As far as the controls go, the movement in Rabi Laby is simple, fluid, and precise. The D-Pad is used to move your character from left to right while the A button is used to jump; pressing X will switch your control from Alice to Rabi, and Y will cause Rabi to use his special self-destruct ability. This game features no touchscreen controls, which is fine, but it would be nice to at least navigate the menu with a quick tap.
During gameplay, all of the action is displayed on the top screen, along with the number of keys you have collected and the number of times that Rabi can explode per level. The bottom screen displays basic information and sometimes a short dialogue between Alice and Rabi. While this is often just idle chit-chat, it will sometimes include hints on finishing the current stage.
The audio and visuals in Rabi Laby are simple, but very appropriate for the feel of the game. The characters are all shown as adorable sprites and the stages are displayed in a similar style. The backgrounds in each stage look more like paintings that don’t really fit with the rest of the game, but they do provide a remarkable juxtaposition to the cartoony sense of everything else. While there are very few different audio tracks in this game, the music does have a very happy and upbeat feel to it, making the gameplay all the more enjoyable.
One of the main problems with this game is that the difficulty doesn’t have much of a gradual increase. Instead, sometimes you will play an incredibly easy stage that is immediately followed by one that may leave you scratching your head for quite a while. Also, with this game requiring the use of two different characters to solve puzzles, it would have been nice to see some multiplayer function, but sadly this is a completely solo adventure. Besides that, this game really is a lot of fun. With its simple and downright addictive gameplay, there’s no doubt that players will be aching to get to the next stage, no matter how many tries one might take.
Rabi Laby is a fun and addictive action puzzle game with a decent amount of content. It would have been nice to see some multiplayer features or anything besides the main story, but with 50 replayable levels, there’s still enough here to keep gamers busy for a while. While Rabi Laby doesn’t do anything to redefine or push the limits of the genre, at 500 Points it’s well worth the price.