With Nintendo’s iconic plumber surprisingly absent for the launch of the Nintendo 3DS, it falls to Ubisoft to offer early adopters of the latest handheld system a duo of platform titles to fill the void. We’re still making our way through the developer’s re-working of Rayman 3D, but hot on its heels is a 2D (or should that be 3D?) side-scrolling game, featuring none other than the globe-trotting Rabbids phenomenon.
Taking recent Wii outing Raving Rabbids: Travel in Time as its premise, Rabbids 3D sees the critters stumble upon a time-travelling washing machine whilst playing around at a local museum. With its present occupant sporting a rather fetching rubber ring in the form of a duck, a scuffle breaks loose that sees several Rabbids propelled into the machine before it blasts itself back to the Prehistoric era. So begins your quest to find duck rubber rings across four different time zones, including Prehistory, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome or the Middle Ages.
Along the way, an aspect that Rabbids 3D never fails to encapsulate is the sheer comedy that the franchise strives to live up to. You’ll meet Rabbids dressed in various outfits, greeted with a short cutscene where you’ll see what potential hazard they’ll challenge you with. Cavemen kicking dinosaur eggs, fire-breathing Egyptians and mitten-toting Gladiators that throw you into harm’s way. This game has it all. The use of 3D is also well implemented, with Scarab Beetles crawling across the screen to block your view, a mighty T-Rex chases you across a level and the untimely demise of your Rabbid in any given situation results in him being propelled toward the screen, causing it to smash in spectacular fashion.
You have a number of moves at your disposal, encompassing running, jumping, picking up and throwing objects, and generally flailing your arms around, as you destroy blocks, bounce on trampolines and knock logs over to form bridges in your efforts to complete each level.
All your controls are mapped to relevant buttons, with the touchscreen merely being implemented to allow you to track your progress through the level, whilst keeping an eye on how far you are away from the next checkpoint. You’re also able to zoom in/out with the L Button, although keeping the camera at a distance allows you to see far more – especially important in noticing hazards coming up ahead.
Sprinkling a little variety, you’ll find a duo of temporary power-ups on your travels in the form of costumes; Invincibility, which dresses you in Knight’s armour and protects you from damage, and the Wonder-jump, that takes the form of a Propeller Hat and allows you to leap to ridiculous heights.
Once you’ve completed a level in Story mode, in an effort to entice replayability, you’ll unlock the ability to play through it again in either “Challenge” or “Stopclock” mode at any given time. The former sees you tasked with completing objectives such as neutralising every enemy, destroying all breakable objects or finishing a level without losing a life, whereas the latter pits you against the clock as you seek to achieve the fastest time, offering a reward of either a Bronze, Silver or Gold Rabbids trophy.
Regardless of which mode you’re in, your score will continually accumulate as you collect objects throughout the game, incorporating Gold Coins, Small Ducks and inflatable Rubber Duck rings, rewarding you with the opportunity to earn 3D Figurines or unlock Bonus levels that can be viewed from the main menu.
You’ll also stumble upon Toilet Rolls, which are used to refill your life bar, as well as a more elusive Golden Toilet Roll allows you to extend it permanently by an extra Roll. Lastly, there’ll be the chance to snag Energy Spheres which allow access to bonus levels within the game.
As with previous Rabbids games, customisation is all part of the fun here and as you travel between time periods and defeat enemies you’ll amass varying historic attire to dress your Rabbid in, before returning on your time-travelling conquest.
However, there are areas where Rabbids 3D regrettably falls down. Even at an approximate length of around 5 hours completion time (before re-visiting levels for Time Attack and Challenge modes) there is a sickly level of repetition. With each historic period offering an average of sixteen levels, you’ll soon begin to notice that the level environments rarely change and such a lack of variety will begin to plague your mind. This is heightened by the level of challenge on offer with the game, although attempting to make things more difficulty for you, remaining to be largely simplistic throughout. I’ve been able to maintain having over 50 lives throughout the majority of the game, meaning that the odd death never really troubled me.
All in all, Rabbids 3D offers a particularly solid side-scrolling platform experience that is unfortunately marred by repetitive and simplistic design. Seemingly more suited to a younger audience that may find Rayman 3D a little too taxing, there is still plenty to enjoy with some particularly clever use of the stereoscopic 3D effect coupled with plenty of slapstick Rabbids humour.