Stark-raving mad

So what is a rabbid, anyway? These goofy-looking bunny creatures are totally insane, live to cause mayhem and are the stars of Rabbids Go Home.

So what is a rabbid, anyway? These goofy-looking bunny creatures are totally insane, live to cause mayhem and are the stars of Rabbids Go Home.

The rabbids have a problem: They’re trying to get to the moon, which may or may not be where they originally hail from. Given their manic mindset, they decide the best way to go about getting there is to collect a giant pile of junk, stealing and hoarding everything in sight, from parking cones to small dogs to the clothes off people’s backs.

Terrorizing is second nature to the rabbids. They first showed up in 2006, as characters in Ubisoft’s now-defunct Rayman platformer series. They usurped an unofficial company mascot position from the title character while changing the series from platformers to the party mini-game genre.

Rabbids is the rabbids’ first solo adventure, a sort of platformer with the jumping and with a dose of the Katamari series’ junk-collecting thrown in for good measure.

Given a shopping cart and blatant disregard for normalcy, your team of three rabbids have a simple goal per level¬: Take as much crap as possible from each place you visit, adding the cumulative square feet to your ever-growing junk pile.

The game provides plenty of visible items to pick up or bump out of storage devices and the like. The real fun, though, is in wreaking havoc on the world. The rabbids can yell or speed their shopping cart into groups of hapless and very alarmed citizens, knocking their clothes off and sending them scurrying for shelter, which is pretty damn amusing.

There are also occasional corollaries to this design as well, such as when the rabbids bash a jet engine from a plane and ride it through an airport like Slim Pickens’ atomic bomb in Dr. Strangelove.

Occasional mini-games are peppered between levels too, such as ricocheting one of your (customizable) rabbids, who lives inside a virtual Wii-mote, around its interior, just for the hell of it. It’s stuff like this that helps break up the game’s relatively straightforward design while showing off the development team’s clever ideas.

Rabbids is, after all, a pretty unique game, and making a pile of junk to get to the moon is just whimsically nonsensical enough to work in context to the rabbids themselves. But what I found that was even more surprising was the social critique the developers embedded within this seemingly random, ridiculous game—the emphasis being on junk.

See, the world where the rabbids exist is skewed. Everywhere you go, chimed announcements are played, feeding messages to the world’s population that range on motifs running the gamut from totalitarianism to mindless consumerism to just plain nonsense.

“Remember, if you even think about it, you buy it,” the voice might say. You may also hear things like, “Lunch breaks are limited to 10 minutes a day,” or, “Resting is considered unproductive. It is recommended that resting be abolished.”

Citizens, for their part, are all high-strung, whiny and panicky or nervous about trivialities. For instance, when the rabbids knock their clothes off, everyone is carrying bottles of soda. The rabbids make a trip at one point to the Babel Mall, suggesting a level of personal disconnect in the world.

There’s even a recurring Santa that drops hamburgers when hit—a clear sign for the McDonaldization of the game’s world. Throw in a bizarre soundtrack of old radio singles, ranging from Jefferson Airplane to John Denver, as well as lots of similar environs and you’ve got a world that appears to be committed to a surface-level conversation.

In short, between the schizophrenic public service announcements and the citizens’ oblivious positions as mindless, shallow drones, it seems that these people have junk on the brain and clearly lack the ability to think for themselves. Thus, Rabbids becomes more of a game about having your priorities all screwed up than anything else.

Moreover, the rabbids themselves (who are clearly unhinged) are the ones disrupting this “normal” society, an inverse of what the situation appears to be. Suddenly, collecting a gigantic pile of junk in order to get to the moon perhaps doesn’t feel quite so insane.

And here I thought I was just going to be enjoying Rabbids for its inspired insanity.