When the Nintendo Wii first debuted, Ubisoft’s Rayman Raving Rabbids turned into something of a sleeper hit. The game featured the popular platform action game star Rayman in a sequence of mini-games that emphasized the Wii’s novel control system. Now it’s available for the Mac. And I have to wonder why.
Rayman, hero of a series of games including at least one that’s available on the Mac, is an animated character featuring a cartoonish head with large nose, a big forelock of hair, hands, feet and torso, but no arms or legs. He finds himself captured by the eponymous Raving Rabbids, nutty bunnies with a vicious mean streak. Screaming at him in a coliseum, the Rabbids want Rayman to participate in an increasing series of activities that test his reaction time and skills, such as a hammer toss that uses an overweight cow on a chain instead of a hammer, or a Wild West-style gunfight with plungers instead of six-shooters.
I can’t say that there’s any consistent narrative or thread that really makes the games or the game story coherent or consistent, but the zany insanity is part of the fun, and you take it in stride as part of the game play. The Rabbids themselves are adorable, in a bug-eyed, psychotic sort of way; they’re fond of chattering at you and screaming, and their pudgy bodies and big heads make them squishably adorable, even if they’re rather evil.
Playing the game on the Wii is revelatory, at least for a new Wii owner; it was a great launch title for the Wii, precisely because we were still understanding how the Wii’s remote controls worked. The cow toss, for example, encouraged you to swing the Wii remote around in a circle until the cow took flight. The gunfight game had you pointing at the Rabbids and firing with your Wii remote.
Of course, there’s no Wii remote for the Mac. So instead of using a device that you’re pointing in the direction of the screen—or at least of the Wii sensor bar—you’re simply using your mouse to point and click. It’s simple gameplay, but it’s not nearly as rewarding, fun, or revelatory as the Wii version. Basically, Rayman Raving Rabbids just doesn’t translate very well to the Mac.
That’s not to diminish the comedy gold of the Rabbids themselves, however. Ubisoft deserves credit for imbuing them with a manic absurdity that’s both endearing and frustrating. They’re so totally random and goofy, you’re going to love them right from the get-go.
There aren’t an unlimited number of mini-games. You’ll play the same ones over and over again, and others are simply variations on the same themes you will have played before. So it can get a bit boring after a while.
And if you’ve seen Rayman Raving Rabbids played on a Wii, you’ll find that the graphics are crisper and clearer on your Mac than they are on your TV-graphics quality is definitely not the Nintendo Wii’s strong suit.
Rayman Raving Rabbids is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB. The only descriptor offered by the ESRB is “comic mischief”—an understatement where the nutty Rabbids are concerned—and there are some occasionally off-color references (such as one game where you have to keep the doors closed to various outhouses populated by suddenly shy Rabbids). Potty jokes aside, Rayman Raving Rabbids is pretty tame and safe for the whole family, unless you’re excessively prudish.
TransGaming’s Cider treatment of Rayman Raving Rabbids is competent, albeit unremarkable. It ran well enough on my 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro. Because it’s a Cider version, you need an Intel-based Mac, and Rayman Raving Rabbids demands better graphics than the Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics found on older Mac minis, MacBooks and some low-end iMacs. The game can be purchased and downloaded directly from GameTree Online, TransGaming’s e-commerce site, so you don’t have to go searching at stores for the game.
I did experience a couple of crashes that were inconsistent and not repeatable. The original PC game upon which it is based was prone to some stability issues, according to some reports I read, so I can’t say that the problem was specific to the Cider translation.
Macworld’s buying advice
If you’re not a Wii owner and the idea of a bunch of mini-games featuring nutty cartoon bunnies sounds appealing, Rayman Raving Rabbids can be appealing. But if you’ve already tried it on the Wii, you’re going to find that the gameplay loses a lot in translation.
[Macworld senior editor Peter Cohen spends his time at the home in the company of a raving cat rather than any raving rabbids.]