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Rub Rabbits! Package Art
GENRE
Puzzle / Dating Sim
DEVELOPER
The Sonic Team
PUBLISHER
Sega
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
Yes
BUY NOW AT

Rub Rabbits!

Without a doubt, the exclamation point in the title Rub Rabbits! is earned, from the frantic pacing of the mini-games that comprise this release to the sheer madness of the game's story. This sequel to the launch title Feel the Magic: XX/XY can, at times, be frustrating, but an introductory screen reminds the player: “Life is a struggle, right from the very beginning.” While composing this story of hilarity, love and envy, the Sonic Team must have used that quote as inspiration for every plot development.

visuals

Reusing the elements of a predecessor can be troubling for any sequel. Critics call foul, citing a lack of originality on the developer's part; yet, a large part of the appeal of Rub Rabbits! is derived from the serie's distinct visual style. Silhouettes wrapped in brightly colored clothing populate the game's world and keep the mood light. The story is told through the missions and a series of stills before and after each mini-game. The quality of the storytelling becomes apparent with the realization that the still drawings are effective in relaying the characters' thoughts and feelings. Text is used minimally, mostly as instructions at the start of each game.

From the depiction of movement to the cinematic framing of the action, the influence of manga, or Japanese comic books, reaches into the presentation of the visuals. The texture of the clothing and the backgrounds show off the hardware's capabilities. During the games, the animation is smooth, with a few exceptions related to real-time manipulation of the character models. Most impressive, though, is the game's ability to render your fully-customized love interest during all of the games in Memory mode.

audio

The music, like the rest of the game, is “fiercely Japanese,” as one player put it. Evoking qualities of pop music from the Land of the Rising Sun does wonders for giving the title its feel. The use of a chorus of voices and harmonies is reminiscent of a participatory television audience, especially at the end of every round, where the player is greeted with either cheers or groans, depending on his/her performance. The rest of the sound effects work well in perpetuating the attitude that the rest of the game's elements strive to create. As far as shortcomings are concerned, the only problem seems to be on the hardware end: the speakers sometimes crackle when a catchy, bass-heavy tune plays, as if the audio levels are too high.

After completing the Story mode, a menu option called Sound appears. Sound is a library of all the sound effects and songs used in Rub Rabbits! Fifty sound effects, from the love interest's giggles to the hero's yelps, are available at the push of a button. On top of that, twenty songs featured throughout the game can be played at the player's convenience. Interestingly, fourteen of those songs can have their speed slowed down or kicked up a notch through the use of a slider that manipulates the tempo.

gameplay

Rub Rabbits! almost exclusively uses the touchscreen in Story mode, adding only microphone functionality for a nominal number of the mini-games. Primarily, the player controls either the movement or the actions of the hero. However, in the other modes, such as Maniac and Hullabaloo, the stylus and buttons are used in different ways.

Mini-games in the Story Mode fall into one of three categories: Love Battle, Boss Battle or Love Scene. The Love Battles are competitions against the hero's rivals--the eleven other men who have fallen for the love interest. Boss Battles are exactly what they sound like. Deviating from the other two types of levels are the Love Scenes, in which the player directs the hero in such a way as to impress the love interest. Most of the games involve reaching a goal within a set amount of time or correctly executing actions to fill the love meter that is present in the Love Scenes.

Beating the missions in Story Mode serves multiple functions. The story is advanced, love points are earned and new games are unlocked. Love points are used to buy new hair styles, shirts, shorts and shoes in Maniac Mode, so that the player can customize the love interest's looks. The girl, in all of her fashionable glory, is ready for wooing in the Memory Mode.

The Memory Mode is where the player can revisit conquered missions to relive old glories, to master techniques and to earn many more Love Points than in the Story Mode. It is only in this mode, however, that the dolled-up love interest is available for interaction; in the Story Mode she wears her standard clothing.

Once the full extent of Maniac Mode becomes apparent, the earning of Love Points becomes a crazed rush for the accumulation of capital. With 240,856 possible combinations, that perfect outfit is only one or two err...three missions away. Some outfits are unlocked with the completion of certain Story Mode games, such as one that takes place in a jungle pool, where the love interest wears a bikini that the player can, from that point on, parade her around in. Maniac Mode also features a chart that keeps track of all the hidden Rabbits in the opening cut scenes and a section to design swatches that can be applied to a bathing suit and any shirt/skirt clothing combination. Also to unlock is a color wheel to change any hair style to any color. The last section in Maniac Mode is called Studio. The player picks one of thirty buttons on the touch screen, and the love interest, on the top screen, completes the action associated with that button. Pressing button two causes her to start walking in place, while she'll start shivering if button twenty-three is pressed. All of the action is as smooth as in the Story Mode.

multiplayer

The Sonic Team made some interesting innovations for the multiplayer sections of the game. One part, called Hullabaloo, is designed to be played with at least two people. The game is essentially a relay race, and the DS becomes the baton. The first player presses down a button, touches the touch screen or does whatever she is prompted to do, then hands the DS to the second player without letting go until the top screen has registered that the second player has pressed down another button, touched the touch screen or does whatever he is prompted to do. This pushing and passing continues until someone doesn't do what the DS says or drops the console.

The next game is unabashedly called Baby Making. This game involves, surprise, only two players. Working in conjunction, each player holds one side of the DS, enters some personal information (as in a birthday or blood type) and then the fun begins. The first player uses the D-Pad and the second uses the A, B, X and Y keys like the D-Pad to control their own virtual hand in cutting a wedding cake with the other player. Once the cake is cut, a baby appears. The birds and the bees have never been so simple to explain.

Apart from looking at the baby playing, players can hook up with other Rub Rabbits! players and allow their babies to play together using the Connect menu. Also under that menu is the option to battle against other DS owners in single-card play. The players can revisit one of six games and fight each other in this mode that rounds out the hearty multiplayer section.

overall

This quirky title should have all but the most macho entertained. Those that can't get past the idea of spending a game courting a girl and those recently heart-broken should probably approach this title with some trepidation. Otherwise, this game is nothing but fun, with a dash of frustration and an immersion in the pop culture of another country. So, pick this one up for a rewarding struggle and an example of a well-executed experiment in love and touching. Rub it!

final score 7.9/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Chris Boette
Staff Profile | Email
"Hmmm, kinda gamey."


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