January 10, 2007
Bunnies are Evil?
Four bunnies walk into four outhouses on a beach. They sit to do their bidding, but their wooden outhouse doors keep creaking open. Your job, if you're willing to accept it, is to point a magic wand at each door to shut it before it opens all the oopsy way.
Sound easy? Not so fast, Bugs. In "Rayman Raving Rabbids," those doors open as quickly as Whac-A-Moles pop up at your neighborhood Chuck E. Cheese. To close a door, you point a Nintendo Wii wand with one hand, then shake the Wii "nunchuk" with your other hand.
This is utterly absurd, and it's more fun than any kid's game this year. By the way, the minute-long outhouse charade is just one of 70 unbelievably fun tests of physicality and coordination.
I knew "Rayman" was a minor masterpiece during another level, when I had to shake the wand and nunchuk rhythmically to make a character disco dance to the Pulp Fiction theme song, "Misirlou." I laughed so hard, I was brimming with completely stupid joy.
In the next round, I had to point the wand at the screen like a gun to shoot suction cups at disco-haired bunnies wearing cowboy hats in a tourist trap of an Old West town.
I suppose there is a potential drawback. Maybe you heard the news that quite a few Wii gamers (reportedly, many were novice gamers) accidentally threw their interactive wands at their TVs while playing various Wii titles.
Well, in "Rayman," you do have to be careful during the part when you swing the wand over your head fast, like a lasso, to make your character swing a cow by a chain over his head. It's like an Olympic event, but nuttier.
Granted, it may sound slightly weird that a game is rated "E" for everyone when you cow-toss in it. But I assure you, I am a sensitive animal lover, and it doesn't make me squirm. It's just too silly to get riled about.
The bad bunnies are funny, too. In one bit, you run super fast around an island to deliver a bomb to a grumpy bunny. To run, you shake the wand and nunchuk separately, as a drummer would, and this approximates the action of feet in motion. Incredible.
I have a feeling "Rayman" is the Wii game that will challenge hardcore gamers to get in touch with their inner, playful child, especially after they've been playing unfunny war games and muscle-bound sports titles all year.
What you have to be prepared for is feeling totally goofy. But goofy in the best possible way. This game makes me laugh, mouth open, at how capricious and enjoyable the world can be. I am not kidding. I am grateful for this gift.
In fact, here is the rarest thing I will ever say in a game review. Every single person who had anything to do with making this game should show this review to family members so they can appreciate the following: Your game-making relative is a genius.
"Rayman: Raving Rabbids" for Wii — Plays incredibly fun. Looks good. Challenging. Rated "E". Four stars out of four.
New to You — Used Game of the Week
"Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence" is a really great-looking game in which you are a secret, spying warrior for America, lurking around the world to kill bad guys. It's such a good game, it's just now selling for $20 and less, after being on the market all year.
You can find it in used-game stores for bargain prices, at last, though. It's available for the PS 2 and rated "M" for blood, gore, language, sexual themes and intense violence.
(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone;" "T" for "Teen;" "M" for "Mature 17+")