Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 (Wii)
The bunnies of Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 are nothing like the fluffy little cottontails envisioned by Beatrix Potter or Walt Disney. They fart, they burp, they spit, and above all, they scream. They also star in what happens to be an extremely enjoyable, inventive and hysterical party game, which is something Flopsy and Mopsy never quite managed to pull off.
Like most party games these days, RRR2 is a collection of mini-games loosely collected around a central gimmick. In this case, the games are grouped into different Trips as the Rabbids venture off on a world tour, visiting the United States, South America, Asia, Europe and the Tropics. The division is more practical than thematic. The games don't really have anything to do with their country of origin, but divvying them up into smaller groups means you'll get to sample all 50 or so relatively quickly. Don't worry if you stumble across some that you just can't stand; RRR2 gives you the option of creating your own custom Trip, mixing and matching mini-games until you have a collection that perfectly matches your particular preferences.
The first Rabbids' games were fairly ordinary and tended to use the same control mechanics over and over again. The mini-games of RRR2, however, are delightfully oddball and use the Wii controllers in a pleasingly diverse number of ways. A snake-charming game has you hold the Wii remote like a flute as you repeat a button sequence, Simon-style, while a bumper cars challenge has you grip it sideways like handlebars. Even when the controls are ordinary, the games are not, including elements like washing some unsettlingly dirty underpants or getting back at rabbits by spitting in their drinks. My personal favorite was the very un-PC game in which you had to quiet bawling bunnies in the back of a car by giving them a quick smack to the head, à la Whac-a-Mole. So wrong, yet so very funny.
The games vary in quality, with some being incredibly simple while others are awkward and complicated. None of them, however, are complete losers, and for the most part, RRR2 avoids the usual party game pitfall of having a control scheme that will either wreck your controller or cripple you for life. Though some games force you to shake the Wii remote and Nunchuk until your clavicle pops out, they are thankfully few and far between.
Each Trip ends with a musical number, as a bunny band plays a song like 'Celebration,' 'Teenager in Love,' or 'Satisfaction.' Players can choose one of the four parts of the song, like horns, vocals, drums or guitar, then shake their controllers along to the beat. The parts range in difficulty from dead simple to fairly challenging, which not only gives straggling players a chance to catch up, but also makes it easier for different age and skill groups to play together.
Racking up a mini-game's high score unlocks a costume (or two) that can be used in Free Play mode, which lets you play individual mini-games without having to bother with the whole Trip. The costumes don't really serve much purpose, but playing dress-up with the bunnies is good for a chuckle or two. Completing the Trips unlocks other costumes, as well as granting you access to a new Shooting game, a surprisingly lengthy on-rails shooter in which you have to pelt a seemingly endless onslaught of rabbits with plungers. Here's a tip: Butt shots get you bonus points.
Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 has what a good party game needs, and delivers it with a laugh. The Trips are nice and short -- just six rounds long -- keeping the action fresh and making it easier for folks to swap out and take turns playing. The games lend themselves to some genuine laugh-out-loud moments, and do a good job of making both the goals and the controls very clear to even the most inexperienced players. A larger roster of mini-games would have been better, of course, but the selection is so entertaining that you won't mind playing them over and over again.
This review was based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.