Those pesky Rabbids. Is there every any satisfying them? Just a few months ago, they were Rabbiding their way through time in the Wii's great minigame collection (which we reviewed here), and now, no sooner have they returned to their own time than they're off again - only this time, on a whole new platform, in a completely different sort of game.
Quick off the marks as always, Rabbids 3D marks the loveable Rabbids' first step onto the 3DS, in a game that's cunningly been held back for a week, to give everyone enough time to get fed up with whatever games they've bought, and capitalise on the public's craving for something new to play.
A very different kind of game to the Rabbids that have come before it, Rabbids 3D is (bear with us) a 2D, side scrolling platformer, which is kind of an oxymoron in and of itself. Of course, by 2D, we mean that you can only move left, right, up, and down, not forward/backwards, etc in a true 3D plane. The 3D of the name comes in the way of the 3DS's handy 3D slider, which gives added depth to the environments, making the foreground look nearer the front of the screen, and the background further in the distance, with a nicely subtle effect that isn't too in your face.
The story here is the usual zany Rabbid nonsense. While on a trip to the museum, the Rabbids are stunned when a washing machine suddenly appears out of nowhere. Even stranger is the Rabbid inhabitant of the washing machine, who stumbles out of the cleaning device with only a rubber ducky rubber ring to protect his modesty. The Rabbids, being Rabbids, see something brightly coloured and rubbery, and can't contain their excitement, grappling with each other to try and get hold of the ring. In the process, they manage to roll inside the washing machine, and accidentally, somehow, turn the thing on. Uh oh. As those who've played the Wii version may have already guessed, this is no ordinary washing machine - instead, it's actually a Rabbid time machine. No sooner could they say BWAAAAH than the cuddly critters are flung back in time to the caveman days - and it's up to them to figure out how to get back.
Rabbids 3D, like the games that came before it, is a game that's aimed to be as easy to play as possible, for kids and grown ups alike. With levels spanning four "ages" - Prehistoric, Egypt, Medieval and Greece/Rome, it's up to your Rabbids to find their way through each of the levels, as they attempt to find the magical washing machine, collecting coins, and the thing that got them into this mess in the first place, rubber duckies, as they go. Yes.
But far from being a simple A to B affair, the levels in Rabbids 3D have a lot more depth than it initially appears. With blocks to be pushed around, barriers to be broken, and seesaw platforms to navigate, there's a fair amount of thinking that has to go into each level - you can't just hold the Circle Pad to the right, and hope you'll read the end. Thankfully, while the platforming does require some form of accuracy, you don't have to be pixel perfect in your leaps either, as the game's actually nicely forgiving - especially thanks to its regular checkpoints, scattered throughout the level.
And just because you've reached the end once doesn't mean you've seen everything there is to see in the level, either - in fact, there's probably something you've missed. With secret passages, and collectibles that often appear just out of reach, there's a fair bit of puzzle solving to be done here too, if you want to find everything. Whether you've got to run back through the level to find a crate, and bring it with you, or drop an explosive plant on a trampoline, before attempting to jump on it as it bounces back up, to ride it to another platform (which is easier said than done), there's plenty of reason to keep you coming back.
With a generous 40 levels on offer, each holding numerous secrets and collectibles to be found, there's plenty of replay value here, before you even look at the extra modes. Once you've finished a level in Rabbids 3D, you'll unlock two other modes - Time Trial, and Challenge mode, which set you very different tasks. Time Trial, as you may have guessed, simply asks you to speed your way from start to finish as quickly as possible - the faster you finish, the better trophy you'll get. With the generous time limits, you shouldn't have too many problems, even if it is a little bit counter-intuitive that you can't see the time limits you're working against on the bottom screen.
The challenge mode, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult. This mode asks you to collect every coin/rubber ducky, break every block, and thwack every Rabbid in the level - and all without losing a single life. It's evil, yes, but it adds an extra layer of challenge, and some welcomed longevity to the game - even if it is more than a bit stupid that there's no way of telling which levels you've already completed the challenge/time trial modes on. Completing each time trial level will net you a trophy - and if you collect four, you'll unlock a picture in the Gallery mode, while completing the challenge mode nets you a Super Costume to dress your Rabbid in. Of course, this being a Rabbid game, there are plenty of others to find, too.
Enemy Rabbids you meet in the game can be "thwacked", which not only damages them, but also lets you steal their clothes. Continuing the staple of the other Rabbid games, you can then use an option on the main menu to dress your Rabbid how you please. Ours is currently a Western Caveman Cowboy, but finding the daftest combination is always fun.
With plenty to see and do, well designed levels, and tonnes of collectibles, Rabbids 3D is a silly, over the top, cute and cuddly platformer - and we love it. It's quite possibly the best platformer on the 3DS so far - even if its only competition does come in the form of Rayman 3D - but that's no less of a recommendation. Buy it, you won't be disappointed.