Once just a spinoff from the Rayman series, the Raving Rabbids have developed into their own full-scale franchise. Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is the newest in the series, and the first to support Microsoft’s Kinect sensor. With the franchise’s history of motion-sensing minigames on the Wii, it is interesting to see what new tricks the team at Ubisoft put together for this release.
Alive & Kicking provides you with three different gameplay options to choose from. The first mode is simply an augmented reality mode that overlays your very own Rabbid into your living room (or whatever room you happen to be playing in). You can interact with your Rabbid by punching and kicking him, or you can purchase various costumes and interactive objects to use. While novel, there wasn’t much to do after a few minutes. This mode is simply a novel distraction, though, as the meat of the Rabbids experience has always been the bizarre minigames.
Free Play allows you and a friend to compete as a team or play head-to-head in any of the various 30 minigames Alive & Kicking has to offer. The only problem is that most of the games didn’t feel like games at all. They felt like work, and exhausting work at that. The control schemes for some of them were so difficult it was tough to power through them. I’m looking at you, Flaming Marshmallow. You can also jump into the actual Party Mode, that requires 3-16 people to play. The games are the same, but you have your choice of modes that determine how players are eliminated. Players are matched up via a round-robin selection, with the last one standing claiming bragging rights. Party Mode is the only mode that had a sense of competition, which is unfortunate when you try to play with two. Most of the time we ended up playing Party Mode anyway, rotating off to fill the random third player that we created. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is a nuisance.
The challenges themselves were kind of lacking, and felt more like exercise than fun. Occasionally the required positions and movements just didn’t track well using the Kinect, and resulted in a very poor gameplay experience. Add in the fact that it didn’t take very long to notice gameplay mechanics from other Kinect games, and you started to ask yourself why you weren’t just playing those instead. My kids seemed to enjoy their time with it, but the gameplay issues were magnified when trying to track their smaller frames and less exaggerated movements.
I wanted to like Alive & Kicking, I really did. The Rabbids as a whole are humorous, if juvenile, in their approach, and that in itself is entertaining. There was just not much here to keep me coming back.
Pros: The Rabbids are funny, Party Mode supports 16 players
Cons: It’s a minigame collection, and the minigames aren’t fun