Game Rant's Jeff Schille reviews Rabbids: Alive & Kicking.
The Rabbids, erstwhile Rayman associates and purveyors of a particularly absurd brand of anarchy, are back in a new mini-game collection for the Xbox 360. Using the power of Kinect, Rabbids: Alive & Kicking aims to bring the titular characters into players' living rooms like never before.
Does it succeed? Read our review.
The Rabbids were present at the very dawn of motion gaming, starring along with Rayman in the Wii launch title, Rayman: Raving Rabbids. While obviously not as influential as Wii Sports, the first Rabbids game nonetheless helped cast the mold for the mini-game collections that have become nearly synonymous with motion gaming. What a shame, then, that Rabbids: Alive & Kicking saddles the endearingly manic characters with a rote, listless game that exemplifies the very worst of the genre.
Disappointment, dismay even, over much of Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is made all the sharper because the game has one really good idea that it just doesn't do enough with. That idea is to use Kinect for some Augmented Reality fun with the Rabbids. Whether simply chasing them around the room, or squashing them whack-a-mole style, the Rabbids make great AR playmates. Why, then, don't more of Alive & Kicking's mini-games use them in that way?
The balance of Alive & Kicking's mini games fall into one of two categories: inexplicably short, and interminably long. It is with the shortest games in the collection that Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is at its worst. Many of these events can be completed in under ten seconds -- the loading screens and short (but generally charming) animated introductions that proceed them, not to mention the post-game results screens, last much longer than the events themselves.
Take, for example, the mini-game "Turnpickle." The goal of this event is to remove the lid from a jar of pickles. The player accomplishes this task by spinning in place. That's it -- no finesse, no timing, just spin in place. Briefly. This reviewer's winning round took 3.48 seconds. Similar games ask nothing more from players than a moment of running in place, or a couple of quick hops.
Absolutely none of the gestural sophistication that makes Kinect Sports: Season 2 such a success is present in Alive & Kicking. In fact, several of the mini-games don't make any real use of motion control at all. The "Rabbid-O-Tron" events, all five of them, are multiple choice quizzes. Players must spot the differences between two pictures, or work out a spatial logic puzzle, and raise a hand to choose the correct answer. Why are multiple choice quiz events even in a Kinect controlled game?
The longer events aren't necessarily any more fun, but at least they offer some measurable amount of gameplay. There are a number of variations on "match the pose" and "dodge things" events, in addition to a goofy AR version of Guitar Hero (this being Ubisoft, perhaps we should say Rocksmith), and a race that players control while sitting on the floor. That race, incidentally, is through the digestive tract of a Rabbid. Backwards.
Rounding out the events, a number of "wipe things clean" games play just as they did in Eye Toy: Play on PlayStation 2 a decade ago, while the lone recreation of a Rayman: Raving Rabbids level -- pumping the snorkel masks of advancing Rabbids full of orange juice until they drown -- serves only to remind players how bad Alive & Kicking actually is.
In addition to its many other faults, Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is a very short game. Players who wish to do nothing more than play each mini-game once can easily do so in under two hours. Several of the longer events have multiple levels that must be unlocked, and as many as four players can compete in most games.
At least the game is technically sound. In fact, much of Rabbids: Alive & Kicking looks great, thanks to the exaggerated animation of the Rabbids themselves, and a generally bright, cheery visual design. The opening cinematic, which ends with a flyover of a city, panning down to a window that is the player's room, is just plain neat. The disconnect between that clever use of Kinect, and the drek that passes for many of Alive & Kicking's mini-games is vast. At least the game tracks player movements accurately, although Kinect occasionally has a bit of trouble recognizing gamers who are down on the floor.
In some circles, the very words "mini-game collection" are themselves derisive, indicative of a product that deserves scorn. Make no mistake, it is precisely because of games like Rabbids: Alive & Kicking that such a stereotype exists.
Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is impossible to recommend. That the still loveable Rabbids are attached to such dismal failure only adds insult to injury. Other than the nifty AR bits, the game takes a nearly remedial approach to motion gaming -- spinning in circles just doesn't cut it anymore. This is a product that asks almost nothing of players, and offers the same in return. Avoid.
Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is available now for Xbox 360 and Kinect.
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