***You will NEED a Nunchuck each to play this game – it's used in, and must be plugged in, for practically every mini-game, bar the 'Just Dance' section, where it advises you to unplug it before it lets you continue. Wii Motion+ is not compulsory, but is necessary to access one of the mini game rooms, so you'll be missing out on 3 mini games if you don't have it, and you'll need one for each person who wants to play.***
Is there nothing the Rabbids haven't tried? They've kidnapped Rayman, tried to invade Earth, taken over a TV station, and built a pile of stuff in an attempt to return to the moon. And now they're making a triumphant return, and travelling in time, messing up history as they go.
As with the other Raving Rabbids games (with the exception of 'Rabbids Go Home'), Raving Rabbids: Travel In Time is a mini-game collection, packed with 23 new games. Although 20 doesn't seem like a lot compared to the other games in the series, especially considering the first game, 'Rayman Raving Rabbids' had over three times as many, effort has been made to make the mini-games more substantial, with less aimless 'waggling' of the controller. As substantial as a mini-game can be, anyway.
The premise of the game is as crazy as the Rabbids themselves – the little creatures discover a washing machine capable of travelling through time. First, they go back to the days of the cavemen, helping them discover fire – by setting fire to a mammoth. Then, they head over to Egypt and knock the Sphinx's nose off, before heading over to medieval England to interfere with Arthur trying to pull Excalibur out of a stone (they're holding onto it underground), letting go in time for a granny to try. They then drop in on Beethoven (literally), landing on his piano and giving him the perfect chord for his 5th Symphony. Keeping with the music theme, they stop off at a punk rock gig – the man on stage manages to knock himself out by trying to smash his guitar on the washing machine. Finally, they land in a museum, crashing down on an expensive vase, and the game begins.
The museum hub is huge.
First off, the museum is huge, occupying two floors, and has a whole host of things to find and do – sing a duet with a fish, play a whack-a-mole type game with gem cases and inhale from fire extinguishers are just a few of the totally random little things you can find. Upstairs, there's a 'Costume Hall', where you can dress your Rabbid up in over 30 unloackable, historical costumes – at the moment, I'm Napoleon, and Ian is some chinese emperor. The 'Chorus Hall', is where up to four Rabbids can test their vocal skills on 9 different songs – pressing down on the +Control Pad makes your Rabbid do his iconic “BWAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!”, and rotating the Wii Remote changes his pitch (you can do this anywhere in the game). In the 'Chorus Hall' tracks come down the screen (in a similar way to Guitar Hero and Rock Band), and you need to rotate your Wii Remote to select the correct pitch and press down on the +Control Pad to “BWAAAAAAAHHH!” - hearing La Cucaracha sung entirely in “BWWWAAAAHHH!”s is certainly different, to say the least. As the Rabbids were where what was to later to become 'Just Dance' found it's feet, there's an obligatory 'Dancing Hall', where you and your Rabbid can dance to 7 different songs – from 'Walk The Dinosaur' to 'YMCA', they're as cheesy and over the top as you might expect, considering it's a Rabbids game. The 'Quiz Hall' asks you a set number of questions on one of three topics – 'Rabbids','Game' and 'History' – just be aware some of the answers might not be quite what you were expecting. Downstairs is essentially one big 'Trophy Hall' – you can find your photo album, high score tables for the various games, an art gallery, various unloackable items and the games credits. There are also more than 130 trophies to obtain in the game – these unlock as you meet certain criteria, from playing with x number of players, to roast your Rabbid 100 times in the lasers to burp for the first time, there's plenty of things to do.
Once you manage to tear yourself away from pratting around in the museum, up the stairs live the various mini-games. They're divided into five rooms based on how they play – the 'Bouncearium' is full of games that involve jumping and platforming, the 'Shootarium' has various games which use the Wii Remote pointer to shoot, the 'Flyarium' turns your Rabbid into a plane for a set of flying mini-games, the 'Runarium' is chock full of races, and the 'Hookarium' lets you fish for various objects, using your Rabbid as bait - although this room requires the Wii Motion+ accessory. Inside each room is a mini-hub bit, where you are, again, free to mess about in - you'll also find a number of paintings. These paintings are the entrances to the mini games, and parking your Rabbids in front of them and screaming (pressing down +Control Pad) teleports you into the mini-game. From our experience though, you're better off playing against as many friends as possible, as the computer characters seems to be surprisingly competent - things are always more fun in multiplayer anyway, so it makes a convenient excuse. Although, it doesn't seem to matter whether you win or lose the mini-games anyway, as you still seem to unlock stuff when you come last - all it cares about is if you've had a go. Here are a few examples of the sort of mini-games you're likely to encounter in each room:
Titanic On The Rocks (1912)
Did you know the reason the Titanic sank was because a Rabbid overdosed on baked beans and exploded, rupturing the hull of the Titanic? Neither did we until we played this mini-game. In this one, you go against another Rabbid in a head to head match to see who can eat 100 baked beans, jumping on platforms, avoiding spiky fish and swimming through water-filled tunnels. Your Rabbid moves with the Nunchuck's Control Stick, the A button jumps and a quick flick of the Wii Remote makes your Rabbid dash - and dashing into the opposing Rabbid makes him loose some of his precious baked beans.
Shootarium: The Great Uranium Rush (1799)
In this game, you meet up with a miner who has just struck gold (or maybe it's uranium?). Then, for some reason, you find your Rabbid in a mine cart, hurtling through cowboy-land, whilst big boulders, TNT crates and rubber swimming rings hurtle towards the screen. The idea of the game is to shoot as many of the boulders as possible to gain gold/uranium, and 'juggle' the TNT and swimming rings so that they don't explode on your side, but on your opponents side, as they take off points. Shooting is as simple as pointing your Wii Remote at the objects on-screen and pressing the B button to fire.
Flyarium: Dim Flash Of Inspiration (1750)
What happens when you present a Rabbid with a cow and a fire extinguisher? Cow-shaped balloons, of course. Your Rabbid straps a wing to each of his arms - one arm/wing is represented by the Wii Remote, and the other the Nunchuck, so tilting one arm up and one arm down makes you turn, and the A button is your engine. The object of this game is to fly around in your Rabbid-plane, collecting as many balloons as you can - flying through a balloon changes it to your colour, and it then attaches itself to the back of your plane, snake-style. And yes, you can pinch each others' balloons by flying through their balloon snake.
Fire extinguisher + cow = cow balloons!
Runarium: Merlin The Embroiler (520 AD)
Which would you rather have, Excalibur or a toilet brush? They seem to be equivalent in the Rabbid's eyes. This mini-game splits you into two teams of two, one with Excalibur and one with a toilet brush, and then you basically run to the finish line, round a rather long course littered with bear traps, falling bridges and muddy puddles that will slow you down. You can move your Rabbid with the Nunchuck's Control Stick, and use the power-ups you collect (shown as red presents) with the B button.
Hookarium: Underwate-r-u-doing? (150,000,000 BC)
Ever tried fishing, using a Rabbid as bait? No? Well here's your chance. Pop your Rabbid on the end of your fishing rod (by pointing at him and pressing the A button), then aim where you want him to go with the Wii Remote pointer, pressing the B button to lock it into position before flicking your Wii Remote down to cast the line (the speed you flick with determines how far out he goes). With any luck, you'll manage to snag one of the prehistoric fish - then you'll need to wind your Rabbid back in by moving the Nunchuck in a circular motion. Catching fish earns you points, and points mean prizes - or at least bragging rights.
Raving Rabbids: Travel In Time isn't without problems though - controls for some of the mini-games are awkward, or confusing - playing any sort of fishing-based game in the 'Hookarium' quickly turns into a test of your patience, as, seemingly, no matter how fast you try to flick the Wii Remote, it never seems to be enough. By far the best strategy involves starting with the Wii Remote pointing up towards the ceiling, then quickly flicking it down to a horizontal position as fast as you can. One concession Ubisoft seem to have made for the fact you can't seem to wang it hard enough is that your Rabbid will swim towards where you aimed if you don't get enough power behind it, although we would have preferred them to have just made it more sensitive to start with. The fact you have to point at your Rabbid and then press A to attach them to your fishing rod is also a bit of a faff, seeing as the odds are your pointer is not on the screen when you need it to be - just pressing A would have been sufficient. Not nearly as awkward are the flying controls - although they do pose some difficulties. To fly, you hold a Wii Remote in one hand and your Nunchuck in the other, and tilt your arms up/down as if they were wings. I found this much more straightforward than other flying controls I've tried over the years, although Ian didn't feel the same way - but you can't help wondering why they didn't decide to detach the Nunchuck and have you tilting a horizontal Wii Remote as in Wii Sports Resort.
As with most mini-game collections, Raving Rabbids: Travel In Time is best with as many of your friends as you can fit round the Wii (up to four people can play in co-op), and is great for a laugh as you watch the toilet-humour loving, BWAAAAAHHH!!!-ing bunny rabbits mess up history - you can see why the French call them the 'Moronic Rabbits'. While there are less mini-games than usual, and the game could have maybe done with a few more, the huge hub of the museum will keep you occupied for a fair amount of time. And with an RRP of £29.99 (it can be found in shops for less than that, too), you could do a lot worse.