When word leaked out that Sega's Sonic Team was working on a minigame collection for Nintendo's new DS system, many wondered why such a talented development group would be wasting their time creating something as trivial as a minigame compilation. Gamers got their answer with the release of Feel the Magic XX/YY (known as Project Rub in Europe), a game that was hands-down one of the most innovative and imaginative DS releases at the time and the perfect complement to the DS system's touchscreen capabilities. While the game didn't exactly light up the sales charts, it did accrue quite a cult following, at least enough to warrant a sequel in the eyes of Sega. Now Sonic Team is back with their sequel The Rub Rabbits and if you thought Feel the Magic XX/YY was outlandish, wait until you get a load of this sexy touchscreen love fest.
Love is in the air, and everything about the gameplay in The Rub Rabbits is about gaining the attention and eventually the love of your dream girl. To do so you're going to have to earn it and that will require you to take part in the game's many Love and Boss Battles. It's in these battles that you'll earn valuable Love Points, not to mention the indelible attention of your dream girl that will ultimately win you the game.
While there are quite a few different game modes to choose from, the Story Mode is where you'll spend the majority of your time. In this mode you'll watch as your pursuit of your dream girl plays out through a host of minigame challenges. At the beginning of a challenge you'll get a nice little cutscene that sets up the current game, and you'll then be taken to the minigame where you'll have to complete the appropriate challenge. These minigames require you to tap, rub and even blow into the DS microphone in order to complete them, and you'll be doing everything from rolling snowballs down tricky paths to guiding a unicycle across the girders of a tall skyscraper, fending off the many other love interests who try to wrestle in on your dream girl's affections.
As you complete challenges, you'll see more of the story play out through the various cutscenes and eventually you'll be forced to take on a Boss Battle. While these play out very similarly to the regular Love Battles, they do tend to be more challenging and lengthy in design. If you can beat all of the Love and Boss Battles the game tosses your way, you'll be rewarded with the love of your dream girl, not to mention a wealth of minigames that you can go back and play in other extra modes of play. It's these other modes of play that add a whole new layer of replay value to the package and will likely keep you coming back to it long after you've completed the Story Mode.
Once you've beaten the Story Mode, or if you just need a little diversion from the main game mode, you can take on a wealth of the game's extra modes of play. These range from the Memory Mode, where you can go back and play any of the Story Mode minigames you've completed with a slightly higher difficulty, to the Maniac Mode that lets you design and customize your dream girl's various clothes and accessories. There are even multiplayer game modes that allow you to play unique minigames against one another, or cooperate in a Hullabaloo Game that allows you to pass your DS system around to other players, with each player holding down different button assignments in an effort to see how many different people you can pass the system to without breaking the chain of button combinations. And if you're really feeling the love in the air, you can even get together with that special someone and make a baby of your own. All you have to do is answer a few questions, play through a fun little minigame involving cutting a wedding cake, and soon you'll be the proud owner of a brand new baby. So no matter what your gaming tastes are, this something for everyone in this title's unique collection of game modes.
As if the huge variety of game modes isn't enough, you're even afforded every advantage you'll need in order to fully enjoy the game. The touchscreen play control in the game is extremely responsive and very well executed from top to bottom. Even the minigames themselves do a brilliant job of complementing the DS system's touchscreen control and the sheer variety between the various challenges is staggering. You'll hardly ever see the same type of minigame twice, as each one has its own distinct look, feel, and play control setup. We've all seen our fair share of minigames that end up being more tedious and tiresome than fun, but it's clear from the moment you begin playing The Rub Rabbits that Sonic Team put a lot of time and thought into not only the minigame designs themselves, but also the play control of each one as well. The end result is a game that's as much fun to play as it is to look at.
Visually there are very few games out there quite like this one. Not only is the artwork in the game absolutely amazing, but the extremely vibrant silhouetted visual style really brings the game's unique 70's retro theme to life onscreen. The minigames themselves tend to feature a more basic visual approach, but it does offer up a nice contrast to the gorgeous cutscenes. It's nice to see a developer trying something new from a graphics standpoint, especially when the end result adds so much visual appeal to the overall experience. It's like a classic romance for the iPod age.
Not to be outdone by the eccentric visuals, the game's developers were somehow able to concoct a musical score that's every bit as odd as the game itself. There are tons of 70's musical touches strung throughout the game and the musical tracks featured in the minigames are every bit as catchy, fitting the action taking place around you perfectly. The game even tosses in some sexy sound effects to further promote the game's sensual theme. It's not often that you see a game's musical presentation so perfectly meld with its visual theme.
While there will inevitably be those who will quickly dismiss The Rub Rabbits as nothing more than a glorified minigame collection, those who do will be missing out on what is easily one of the most unique and addictive DS titles available for the system. Not only does the game feature loads of personality, but the sexy 70's overtones give the game an added layer of charm that will keep you glued to the screen from start to finish. There's no denying that Sega's Sonic Team has always pushed the bounds of creativity in their many video game releases over the years, but they've really managed to outdo themselves with this one. You'll certainly never look at a minigame collection the same way again after experiencing one as incredibly rewarding as this one.