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The Moon has always been an obsession for slightly crazy factions – werewolves, occultists, NASA. Getting there might have been a small step for man, but believe us, it’s one gigantic leap for those loony Rabbids in Rabbids Go Home, an all new adventure game for Wii.
The half-baked bunnies are back with a vengeance and this time they’re on a mission to reach the Moon. The hedonistic, partying lifestyle they’ve enjoyed on Earth has gotten a bit stale of late and it’s time to take on new territory. The only problem is – how to get there? Showing the true ingenuity of their species, the Rabbids quickly ascertain that the most logical way would be to build a huge pile of…..stuff. Enough stuff to reach the moon in fact. It looks so close after all….
In the first adventure game dedicated purely to the Rabbids, you’ll handle two of the little critters who are out on a riotous rampage to collect the necessary stuff for their Moon Pile in the latest state-of-the-art shopping kart. No other species in history has stockpiled as much disposable rubbish as the hapless humans and the Rabbids know just the place to dump it…
You’ll career through over 15 different game environments and more than 40 missions in your speedy shopping kart, aiming to pick up as many objects as you can. Traffic cones, satellite dishes, menus, skirts, rubbish bins – anything that isn’t nailed down is game for the Rabbids! Control the kart with your Nunchuk and use the trusty Wii Remote to unleash the “Bah!” – your principal weapon against the humans, obstacles and your arch-enemies – the Verminators.
Fancy a trip with some loons to the Moon? Will you ever get there? Find out in Rabbids Go Home, only on Wii.
As International Brand Manager, Loic Gounon follows the project in terms of production and the Rabbids brand and liaises with the Ubisoft Production and Marketing departments. His job means he works closely with the Creative Director and the Producer, focusing on maintaining consistency of the game as part of the Rabbids franchise. This is Loic’s fourth Rabbids-related game and we got together with him for a chat on all things Rabbid…
In Rabbids Go Home, you’re featuring the Rabbids rather than Rayman. What made the team decide to go in that direction?
Rabbids instead of Rayman? I think one of the key things we saw in 2006, when we first created the Rabbids, well, first, they were created by chance – Rabbids were just one enemy for Rayman among the 20 or so enemies in the platform adventure. Everyone loved them on the team, everyone loved them at Ubisoft, and then when we showed the first video everyone loved them across the world. So we really thought there was potential for both characters [Rayman and the Rabbids] and both brands - that’s why we decided to split the brand. But we didn’t want to do it too early as we thought that when we started with the Rabbids alone, we’d need a stronger concept than just a party game.
How did you come up with the shopping kart concept?
Before, we had many other ideas and moves for the Rabbids, and actually we thought one Rabbid wouldn’t be as fun. We really wanted to have two Rabbids playing together and mocking each other. For the cinematics and all, it’s always better to have two characters. The shopping kart was really the means to move and collect and we had different tests in terms of control - at first we were tilting the Wii Remote, which wasn’t that convenient, so we then went for something similar to Mario or Zelda and many other Nintendo games. We went for the Nunchuk Control Stick for moving and the Wii Remote for attacking and it works well. Basically, the Rabbid pushing the shopping kart is the one controlled with the Nunchuk and the Rabbid in the shopping kart attacks. We like this mix of the two Rabbids and the shopping kart - we call it the Rabbid Team.
Are there any other controls still to be added?
Actually, we will use the Z button. A new feature, which hasn’t been shown yet, is what we call the Cannon Ball; so as well as the two Rabbids you have on screen, you’ll be able to play a third Rabbid. If you’re aiming at the screen, you shoot out this third Rabbid that’s going to stick on the head of a character or enemy and by shaking your Wii Remote you can slow down the enemy. He also helps to make more mess, so if you shake him on something you can destroy more stuff. There are sometimes pieces of items you can’t reach, so you have to aim him and “Pah! Shoot!” and then you have little pieces of the item you can collect with your shopping kart.
The music is very distinctive, and the sounds too - could you talk a little bit about them?
I think in terms of design we have three key elements; one of the elements we had to keep because of the brand is the voice of the Rabbid. One of our programmers in Montpellier is actually the one doing the voice of the Rabbid, so we never changed…we tried to find other actors, more professional ones, but they never managed to get the tone of the voice, so it’s always the same Ubisoft guy doing the voice.
In terms of music design we wanted something new though - the Rabbids have always been partying at the disco and we thought okay, it’s not a party game anymore, let’s bring a new audio style. We have two key things, one theme is the humans, in their little world doing their little things; they clean, they buy stuff, they go to work, just human routine, it’s a kind of parody of every day life. For this, as it’s all about consumerism, we chose the 30s age group and for the period, the sounds of the 60s and 70s. So, when you take the elevator when you go through the levels, you can hear the speakers playing this music, so that’s the basic environment music.
But then once you get in with your Rabbid, it totally changes the audio style and that’s the Romanian Fanfare band called Vagabontu - these 10 guys, they play crazy instruments, so it’s much more loud and crazy, really energetic, and actually it was an idea from our audio designer. We did a first test, we went to Romania and recorded some music, we tried to stick it on the gameplay and it worked really well. It’s really a great story, we started working with them last year and they were working in the middle of nowhere – they didn’t know what a videogame was, and then we had this collaboration and now they’re really in the game, it’s very funny – it works well I guess.
There are two different types of missions; there’s the longer-style mission where you’re going for big target items and then the shorter ones where it’s more timed gameplay. What sorts of target items can we expect? Are they items which will transfer into different movements?
Yes, we have the bubble bed, and another one we didn’t show is a giant tyre which will be around the shopping kart and when you shake the Wii Remote you’ll bounce off walls and enemies and around the environment; kind of a truck tyre. And the Rabbids attach it on their shopping kart to move around – it’s cool to slide and bounce.
This is actually going to be used in Arizona. Don’t ask me why, but we have an Arizona location where you have snow, and there’s never snow in Arizona! But there is actually a part where you’ll bounce on snow, you can glide on snow, it’s pretty fun. We wanted to start with basic controls and to have a learning curve and a challenge where the player learns skills. So, he learns to Bah! first, he learns to collect stuff, and then he learns how to attack, say, how can I beat a dog or a Verminator? And then there’s an evolution of the dog and the Verminator. And he learns how to fly and how to go on water, and then we mix all these elements. So you can imagine at the end of the game; you will have enemies everywhere, a bomb attached to your shopping kart, you will have to fly and maybe while you fly, you’ll go on the water, and the cool thing is we always keep the basic controls of drifting and boosting and add new skills on top of that.
What’s fun is that the game is really built so that all players can play, even though not all players may be able to finish it. I would say a big reference is Super Mario Galaxy where most players can easily play 20 or 30 levels but to get 60 Power Stars you need to be a pretty good player, and that’s what we want to achieve. We’re aiming at around 15 hours of gameplay - we want to make sure that maybe the first 5 hours can be played by anyone, it might take longer for an average player, but you have to be quite skilled to pass the first time.
You have all the missions set within 3D hub worlds in the game. Do you have to complete all the missions on one hub before you move onto the next?
No, and what we’re going to try to do, is first you’ll have access to one hub, but when you finish a few levels in the first hub, you’ll have two new hubs to choose from, plus a new mission in the first hub. So you can choose either to stay in the first hub or go visit a new one and in terms of progression in the missions we want it to be non-linear. So basically it’s all linked to the Pile. Once the Pile reaches a certain level, you have one Rabbid at the top of the Pile, he’s like, looking around “Hmmm?” and maybe he sees Miami in the distance and then thinks “Okay! Let’s go there!” This opens the new Miami hub and then in Miami first you have to go to the supermarket, and then the beach and once you complete a couple of missions in Miami your pile again gets bigger and you can open another new area.
So to complete the game, you need to get a certain amount of ‘stuff’ in your Pile.
Exactly, yes. So not necessarily finishing all the missions. You could finish the game without finishing all the missions. But we will of course have many unlockables and we’ll push the player to finish the game. We also want to push replay value and so in the map you have a brief recap that tells you how many smaller items you collected, in what time, and actually the amount of stuff you collect is going to play an important role in the game. So we’ll expect the player to be willing to collect everything to buy new stuff.
There’s going to be a multiplayer mode, and I know you can’t say too much about that, but is there anything you can tell us about it?
Actually, in terms of multiplayer, there are really two things that interest us. One of them is the co-op mode; we have a concept for the co-op mode, we have a good idea, so you’ll be able to play with a second player and its going to help you in your progression. He’s going to be more of a support player but he’s going to be pretty fun to play.
We’re also looking at online as a separate subject for us, because this year we’re going to release the Rabbids Community. In the previous games you always had the customisation and all - a major part of this game is going to be a new mode where you can pretty much do anything with your Rabbid. I’m not going to say more, but it’s going to be a big part of the game and it’s going to be our entrance into the community aspect. I think for a non-Nintendo game it’s one of the most ambitious titles in terms of online; exchanging Rabbids and seeing what’s online….the idea is really to exchange your stupid, silly experience with other players online…
Can you say anything more about the unlockables?
I’m just going to say they’re going to make the Rabbids look really, really silly (laughs). Even more silly. We want the player to really associate himself with the Rabbid. At the end of the game, we want the player to have a Rabbid that looks like him. That’s all I can tell you. Customisation has always played a big part in Rabbid games, but they were more like pieces you put the on the head or whatever – I can tell you that what we’re going to have is much more ambitious.
Are there new missions to unlock as well? Or…
Yes. I don’t think we’ll have many, but there are at least five missions that are going to be extra missions that will be unlocked in the game when you reach a certain level with your Pile.
Getting Hands-on with the Halfwits
Ubisoft has listened to the people – and created a madcap adventure comedy featuring the demented bunnies who stole the show from Rayman – the Rabbids. This game marks something of a departure for the company though, as this is the first full-length Rabbids adventure game with a plot, a mission and a goal, rather than the popular collections of mini-games we’ve seen the Rabbids in previously. But be assured, the adventure-style format has done nothing to tame the crackpot bunnies – they’re on a mission that will make their neighbours’ lives just as miserable as ever – thank goodness…
Creating Rabbids Go Home will have taken the Ubisoft Montpellier team a full three years by the time it’s released at the end of 2009. The team knew it wanted to achieve something fresh with this game and invested a significant portion of time – all of 2007 in fact – to brainstorming ideas and coming up with a concept. A whole year of pre-production followed in 2008, swinging into full production in 2009.
There are over 40 main missions set to test you and before each mission begins you’re treated to a crazy little Monty Pythonesque 2D cartoon summarising what you have to do. There are two types of mission: longer rampages through a level where your ultimate aim is to find and steal a ‘target item’; and shorter missions when you’re trying to beat the clock.
Bubble Bed Bonanza – target-item mission
‘Bubble Bed Bonanza’ is a longer-style mission where the target item is, well, a bubble bed. What’s a bubble bed? Let’s put it this way. All the levels in Rabbids Go Home are set in everyday, mundane human locations, like an office, a museum or a graveyard and highlights how incredibly boring and predictable humans are (to great comic effect). Bubble Bed Bonanza takes place in a dull, grey, clinical hospital and the bubble bed in question is a bed from intensive care with an oxygen tent attached to it - and a near-to-death patient still in it.
The controls are extremely intuitive – you direct the shopping kart by moving the Nunchuk Control Stick. The A Button sets you in motion and pressing A again while moving causes the kart to drift in a similar vein to Mario Kart. While you drift, electric blue sparks crackle under the shopping kart wheels and hitting the B Button at that moment gives you a Super Boost, enabling you to take off with a lick of pace. Your main weapon is the ‘Bah!’ - swinging the Wii Remote to Bah! allows you to attack enemies and, rather surprisingly, disrobe any dim humans who happen to be hanging around. Even the pensioner’s sweet old-granny clothes are a useful addition to the pile of stuff you’re trying to build.
Of course, these everyday humans aren’t your main threat. Nope, your main threat comes in the shape of the Verminators. Clad in head-to-toe rubber suits which send them waddling like particularly overweight penguins, the Verminators are armed with and pumped up to exterminate the Rabbids. There are different types and while they sometimes work alone, they often employ the services of their dogs – huge drooling pitbulls in this level. Nevertheless, a well-aimed Bah! with the Wii Remote and the Verminator’s suit inflates, another Bah! and he’s defeated. The dogs can be dispatched of in a similar fashion, although running them over with your kart is often more effective (and satisfying).
The Bah! has other uses too. Normal humans are pretty pathetic – they even try to hide from you, flapping around until they find a safe place – on top of some lockers, for example. There’s no place to hide from the Rabbids though – one swift Bah! and they tumble off… just before their clothes do.
In fact, one of the delights of the game is that it gives you free reign to be deliciously vindictive at every turn. One great example was using the Bah! to knock a window cleaner off his automated machine, clamped to the outside of the hospital – which is actually a skyscraper. You can’t even take his clothes for the Pile - it’s all just for the fun of it and this attention to detail really adds to the experience.
While you race through the level to reach the target bubble bed, you’ll want to collect as many smaller items for the Pile as you can. They’re enclosed by a jagged white ring, making them easy to spot, if not always easy to get at! A whole range of traps are set down by the Verminators and creative use of your surroundings can be key to get around them. In Bubble Bed Bonanza a handy hospital bed allows you to bounce up and over the wall by pressing the A Button to jump and directing the bounce using the Nunchuk to avoid flammable obstacles. Especially useful are grenades, which you scoop up with the A Button and launch with a flick of the Wii Remote.
The aim of a level is to locate a toilet where you can deposit all your stuff. In some of the longer levels though, you’ll encounter a little Rabbid with a trombone, into which you can dump your so-far collected junk – a halfway house if you will. The Rabbid also acts as a checkpoint, which comes as a blessed relief since you’ve probably just managed to complete some fiendishly tricky part of the level to get there.
After reaching your trombone Rabbid in Bubble Bed Bonanza, it’s just a short hop to the bubble bed. And this is where the beauty of the target items becomes evident. Each target item soups up your shopping kart in some way; in this case, the oxygen bubble allows you to fly. Timely flicks of the Wii Remote send you into the air and keep your bubble bed afloat until you reach a safe landing point. The race then takes to the rooftops of the city and your junk items change accordingly – satellite dishes, aerials and pots are the order of the day. You can even Super Boost in the air with a bit of timing - there’s incredible pace to the gameplay, keeping you zipping along, which adds to the replay value since there’s no way you’re going to see and collect everything on your first try!
These target items expand your abilities at a steady pace, another example of such an item later in the game being a giant radioactive battery which immediately makes the Rabbids radioactive, with useful side effects.: they turn a surely-unhealthy hue of green, glowing with an unearthly light - making them perfect for hunting down items in the dark.
Cow-tch me if you Can – timed mission
Time for a cow drag race! It’s a classic movie moment when you pull up alongside a rival car at a red light and the race is on. It’s a cow on the back of a truck that catches the Rabbids’ eye and the race takes you across all sorts of terrain in suburban coastal America. The different terrain affects your trolley as you would expect - if you stick to the crazy paving path, you’re okay, but veer off into the sand and it’s a painfully slow climb up the hill until you get back onto more solid ground. Patches of oil will send you into a spin and going downhill will help you gather speed accordingly. You also travel through an underwater canal system with buoys to slow you down and traps to avoid. In the timed missions, there’s no target item - the idea is to collect as many smaller items as you can and deposit them in the Rabbid toilet within the time limit.
Rabbid-Fire Reaction – timed mission
Rabbid-Fire Reaction kicks off in style as one of your Rabbids tries to free a huge jet engine from the undercarriage of a 747 by shaking the Wii Remote with the right timing – a little nod to the Rabbids’ mini-game past. Once you successfully detach the engine, it’s time to clean up in a huge sewer system crawling with traps and Verminators. You only have two and a half minutes to make your way through the system to the toilet area – but racing at about three times your normal speed (and that’s without the Super Boost!), avoiding explosive red inflatables and slicing duct fans at every corner. Riding the sewer pipe toboggan style, you enter several larger areas where you chase all the green-suited Verminators in the room, sucking them up with your engine until you have enough engine fodder to make it out of the room. It’s all in a day’s work for a Rabbid!
From our brief glimpse into what’s to come, it was clear that this game takes the Rabbids experience to the next level – the gameplay is hilarious and intuitive, the Rabbids are just as mad as ever and the soundtrack outstanding. Check out our interview with Ubisoft’s Loic Gounon for a sneak peek at what else is in store…