For anyone following the Rabbids series over the past few years, you must have been starting to think that Ubisoft's lovable, but mental little bunnies, the Rabbids, had done pretty much everything they could. They've been to outer space, they've travelled through time (twice), even invaded the Royal Wedding, while starring in a number of great minigame and platforming collections that have provided many a laugh at Everybody Plays HQ. But there's one place left that the Rabbids have never conquered - and that's where they've set their sites for Alive and Kicking. Where is that, you may ask? How about your living room.
Making use of the Kinect sensor (which is a requirement to play the game), Rabbids: Alive and Kicking is - you guessed it - a series of minigames designed to put a giant, goofy grin on your face from start to finish. With a selection of more standard, daft minigames on offer, that makes use of Kinect's motion tracking abilities, setting you tasks such as swimming up a river, throwing things around, or posing in a certain way, the game also has numerous games that see the Rabbids invading your home. Seeing yourself on TV, the Rabbids will start wandering around your living room. Knowing where things are, and seeing where you are, it's kind of creepy (but amazing - especially for kids) to see a wide eyed Rabbid walk right up to you.
One of the modes, that we can imagine many kids having hours of fun with, is exactly as we described above. Rather than a minigame, this is instead billed as "My Rabbid", and, in the tongue in cheek, RSPCA displeasing fashion they've always adopted, your dim-witted Rabbid is trying to invade your living room, (or at least, wander round it looking confused), so it's up to you to swing your limbs, and send it flying, slapping his face, or squishing him - although it's all handled with slapstick styling, rather than beating up a helpless Rabbid - and it seems like he likes it, anyway. For some of the children we know, this mode alone is likely going to be worth the asking price for them.
The minigames, meanwhile, are a mixture of normal minigames, and ones that bring the action into your own home. Designed to keep you on your feet, and get your kids active, there's a huge amount of variety here - and a lot of fun to be had. One sees the Rabbids throwing water balloons, and traps into your living room, which you'll need to dodge. And you'll need a lot of room to do so - this is no simple "step sideways to dodge the single balloon) - the projectiles come thick and fast, and you'll need some quick feet to avoid even half of them. What's even scarier is how it knows exactly where your feet are, and at times, creates a trap on your foot, which you have to shake off and/or kick away before it snaps shut, and you lose some points. To finish things off, a laser appears, that literally chases you around your living room. It's a hilarious little game that's bound to have your kids gasping for breath after just the one play - and begging for a second go.
Another minigame with a similar tack asks you to avoid spotlights that the Rabbids are shining into your living room. The closer you get to them without being caught, the more points you'll own. Again, this soon degenerates into a frantic exercise in dodging, as you're left running from one side of your living room to the other, ducking and diving as you go, as the searchlights sweep in ever less predictable ways. And this is a lot of fun - until a series of searchlights scroll across the bottom of the screen. We assume you're meant to jump over each of them as they approach, but even with the eight to ten feet we had between us and Kinect, we'd never have managed to leap high enough to clear each of the searchlights - and we'd have likely gone through the floor, too.
But this is just one of over 40 minigames that make up the collection, each one more wacky than the last. Unllke other collections, the emphasis here seems to be on getting everyone involved to make as much of a fool out of themselves as possible. Moving away from the Augmented Reality games, one of the games we played asks you to trace a wiggly line graph using your bum (cue much hilarity - even if what you're being asked to do doesn't crack your kids up, the word "bum" and the little picture had our test children in fits), while another sees you taking control of a blow up man who's taking part in a body building contest - all you have to do is match the poses the Rabbids ask you to hold. Match the pose, and the Rabbids will inflate your balloon man's muscles to body builder proportions - but rather than just having to match general body builder, muscle bearing poses (which is hilarious enough anyway), pictures of random, weedy men and women are thrown into the mix, which will leave you standing in some ridiculous ways, much to the merriment of everyone watching you making a fool out of yourself.
Meanwhile, in addition to most of the games being playable in some form of multiplayer, there's are a variety of party modes which lets 3 to a whopping 16 players take part in a variety of similarly mental minigames, all tied together in some sort of competition - including one where you and your friends have to pose together in such a way that you match a silhouette - an inventive use of Kinect, if we ever saw one.
So what of the downsides? Well, as with most Kinect games, Alive and Kicking is very, very space hungry - and with the amount of moving around you'll have to do, Alive and Kicking is arguably one of the most space hungry yet. It's a tricky one, because it makes it very hard to score - if you don't have room (and we only barely do, in a single room in the house), then the game won't be of much use, but if you have room to run it, your entire family is going to love it. You're looking at a space of around eight feet away from the Kinect sensor, and probably getting on for the same, if not slightly more in terms of width - all unobstructed so you can run around with giddy abandon when the Rabbid's laser starts chasing you.
But with its emphasis on fun, if you have the space to run it, Rabbids: Alive and Kicking is a game that's sure to have the entire family in fits of laughter, as you wiggle your bums, pose like bodybuilders (or weedy nerds), or attempt to lick your TV clean. Unashamedly silly, this is a Kinect game you'll want to pick up (so long as you have room).