It’s been a while since Rayman was involved with the Rabbids, and Ubisoft was very clever to distance their classic character from the rather more replaceable Rabbids. Rabbids Land retains the silliness of the Rabbids but a lot of the humour is becoming stale while the gameplay of the mini-games is bordering on dull. There is some fun to be had for a party of four people, but even then there are better options around, even on the very young Wii U.
The setting this time is an amusement park. In this amusement park there is a board shaped like a Trivial Pursuit board on which Rabbids move according to dice rolls and perform the action indicated by the location they land on. Sometimes this means rolling again, other times it means answering a general knowledge question. The most entertaining are the mini-game squares which kick off a two player mini-game. Even then the limit of two players is a really odd choice for a console that can support five controllers at once. More on the mini-games later, but they are the main source of trophies, the goal of the game. Still other locations cause a special event to happen (such as a thief or lucky Rabbid to appear, stealing or handing out trophies as he walks about), while others give you a special item which can be used to control your movement and still others let you play a special slot machine to win (or lose) some trophies with luck.
While the board game is mildly interesting, it really just involves rolling the dice and seeing what happens. The bulk of actual gameplay is in the mini-games, which means the weight of enjoyment really falls on how good the mini-games are. Unfortunately they’re not all very good. Some are funny and offer a bit of enjoyable gameplay, but most are quite uninspired. A simple formula for enjoyment might have been to make some five players games in the Mario Party vein (or even in the vein of old Rabbids games), but instead Ubisoft have opted for 1 vs 1 games with one player on the GamePad and one on the Wii Remote. They’re asymmetrical but they’re mostly not very fun. Nintendo have shown how to make some simple asymmetrical-style games in Nintendo Land, and its collection of three two to five player competitive games that are more than a match for the whole of Rabbids Land for enjoyment and for showcasing the Wii U’s capabilities.
The packaging of the game is solid – there are a number of short cut-scenes in a style that has translated well into HD and these can be amusing at times, but it always feels like the Rabbids are trying too hard and the humour is repetitive. The whole game feels like trying to get some final bits of moisture from an already-strung-out cloth. If Rabbids is to continue it needs the breath of fresh air Rayman was given in Rayman Origins – a reimagining of the idea. There is so much potential in the Wii U for a fun five player party game and the position of party-game-of-choice was there for the taking by Ubisoft, but Rabbids Land is not that game; rather wait for Rayman Legends from Ubisoft or give Nintendo Land a go.