If you’re a Nintendo gamer and have never seen a Rabbid before, you might be the only one. Whether you’ve bought the titles or not, these wacky critters have had a number of releases, of varying standards and styles, released on the Wii and DS. Their ubiquitous nature has made them mascots of sorts for Ubisoft, and the release of Rabbids 3D on the 3DS sees them go up against their former master, Rayman. It’s also their first foray into 2D platforming, bursting out of the gate ahead of a certain moustachioed plumber. Can the rabbids steal the spotlight?
We can get through the storyline nice and quickly; the rabbids are snooping around a museum, encounter a time-travelling washing machine, and promptly leap in for an adventure. The same story was used, for an entirely different kind of title, in Rabbids Travel in Time on the Wii. The story matters little, though in one sense this is one of the most multi-dimensional games ever produced: a 2D platformer, in 3D, where you use the fourth dimension to travel in time. That’s enough different dimensions to make Einstein’s head spin.
Once you recover from this intellectual conundrum you are faced with a one player adventure to test your platforming skills. Your progress is split into four different time zones, each with 16 levels to play through. In each time zone around four of these levels need to be unlocked by earning a set number of points. For each level you boost your score by collecting coins, rubber ducks and defeating rival Rabbids, and you can also play time attack and mission modes in each level. The mission mode tasks you with objectives such as collecting all items, defeating all enemies and so on, while the time attack is a rush through the level. If you want to unlock every level in the game you will need to complete some of these extras, but annoyingly, the game doesn’t record your results in these challenges, so you may accidentally do the same time attack or mission multiple times.
Collecting all of these points gives you a variety of other unlockables. The least interesting are 3D dioramas and artwork pictures, and while those with ‘collect ‘em all’ instincts will be pleased that there are plenty of them, they’re nothing special. The best unlockables by far are the costumes: not only can you dress your Rabbid up in a variety of fun outfits, but you can wear the outfit as you play. We enjoyed seeing our crazy critter hop over spike pits while wearing a rather dapper suit and hat, and young gamers in particular may have a lot of fun with this feature.
The controls in Rabbids 3D are a strong point, which is important in the enjoyment of the game. You jump with A, pick up items or enemies with B, kick enemies with X and sprint with R. We would have preferred to sprint with one of the four face buttons, especially considering that Y goes unused, but once we adjusted to the shoulder button it worked just fine. You can move the rabbid with either the circle pad or D-Pad; the Circle Pad is more naturally placed but we preferred the precision offered by the D-Pad. The controls work well, and manoeuvring through levels feels precise and enjoyable.
Backing up the controls are solid animations and visuals. The movement feels natural and allows you to manage your various jumps, attacks and sprints with confidence. The overall package of visuals is quite pleasing on the eyes, with a bright and colourful art design, and the 3D effect has no noticeable impact on the frame rate while giving a nice depth to the background. Some of the backgrounds, it must be said, are blurry and lacking in detail, while others are vivid and sharp; it’s a mixed bag. The sound includes typical Rabbid sound-bites and ‘waaaaahhh’ noises, while the music is pleasing in the background.
One area where this title falls short is in the level design, and this has a significant impact on the game’s difficulty. If a young or inexperienced gamer is playing, and that is arguably the target audience, then the levels pose a reasonable challenge. For more experienced gamers the challenge is less so; those who have conquered the toughest 2D platformers over the years can finish the game in under eight hours with many lives in hand. A lack of variety and innovation in the levels leads to a sense of repetition, with some feeling like a re-skinned version of those that have come before. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good moments, as a few sparks of inspiration bring a smile to the face. Considering the 3D technology available, however, this title fails to utilise creative design to get the most out of the device, an example being the shifting perspectives seen in Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii.
Rabbids 3D is a solid, enjoyable 2D platformer particularly suited to less experienced gamers. There are 64 levels, 4 worlds and a lot of unlockables to pursue. The ability to play the game in a variety of outfits is also a fun addition for children and big kids alike. There is, however, a sense of missed opportunity: the level design is often disappointing, with only the occasional creative spark brightening the experience. Young gamers will enjoy the bright visuals, rabbid humour and accessible difficulty. Experienced gamers may find the title repetitive and easy, so they should think carefully before buying.