Reviewed: December 14, 2011
Released: November 8, 2011
I believe it was sometime within the first hour of playing Rabbids: Alive & Kicking where I had the dubious honor of tweeting that for the first time in 30 years of gaming I had finally gotten sick, and no, it wasn’t some super-smooth FPS with a crazy head-bob or some crazy 3D space shooter or off-road racing game. It was a silly mini-game where I was a “human jar” spinning around to unscrew myself from my lid why some crazy Rabbids screamed BWAH at me. |
But that is only one of the many games that are waiting for you in this latest bundle of Rabbid-inspired activites specifically tailored to your Kinect. Alive & Kicking is to the 360 what WariorWare: Smooth Moves was to the Wii; a large assortment of physical activities, some surprisingly strenuous, that will likely become your next party favorite…assuming you are all fairly limber and in good physical shape.
With more than 40 games to choose from I was slightly disappointed that allowing the game to randomly select them often resulted in repeats of my least favorite events. You might want to opt for picking your own games from the menus so you have a bit more control and avoid the games you might not enjoy as much. Games range from pumping orange ooze to repel an invading army of Rabbids as they wash shore to a pong-inspired firehouse arcade game. Some of the games are quite physical like the aforementioned jar unscrewing from the lid or even worse, a marathon swimming event where you have to swim (actually making the motions) upstream, jumping over obstacles and avoiding nets. A minute in and both me and my opponent were begging for the game to end; our arms on fire.
And then you have the Augmented Reality stuff; the games that use the Kinect camera to put you and your play area into the game. This can be something as silly as you dancing around to rack up points then hiding off camera when the Rabbids turn to look at the monitor. Or there might be a spill on your floor that you have to wipe up by getting down on your hands and knees and making scrubbing motions, or even wiping or licking away some substance from your screen – and yes the game knows when you aren’t using your tongue so don’t try to fool it.
There are games tailored for both single and multiplayer with support for up to four people at once, so make sure to have a big open player area. There are games for competitive and cooperative play, and some that even do both. One of the more entertaining multiplayer events is where the game puts up a silhouette outline on a sheet and all the players must position their bodies to fill in as much of the shape as possible without going outside the lines. It’s a lot like those Austin Power’s shadow sequences. Another fun one is where all four people must avoid a roving spotlight, but you can't leave the camera view.
Alive & Kicking is definitely targeted towards younger gamers who hopefully have the energy reserves and the patience required to play. Navigating the menus can be a frustrating experience to say the least, since you have to first move vertically through the menu then make a left-swipe motion to lock-in your choice, but usually moving your hand left will also change the vertical selection causing you to lock-in the wrong choice, forcing you to backtrack and try again, making more mistakes along the way. It can often take you 20-30 seconds to make your menu choice followed by another 20-30 seconds to load the mini-game that might only last 3-5 seconds.
Alive & Kicking is also unrealistically hard. You might think you did well only to find you only earned one star, and you have no real way of knowing the requirements for doing better. The more stars and points you earn the more in-game items you can buy to customize your gameplay experience. There are more than 40 games in the collection and DLC promises to offer more insanity down the road. The achievements range from easy unlockables like starting the game to some that border on insanity like the one that requires 16-players to unlock.
For a game that was born on the Wii, I wasn’t expecting much in graphics and Alive & Kicking certainly doesn’t push the 360 to any of its limits. Instead, we get a charming and very typical Rabbids experience that anyone who is familiar with the franchise will know and love. While not technically awesome I did enjoy the way the Kinect camera was used to digitally insert my living room into the gameplay screens or better yet, insert CG Rabbids into my living room. This is some great use of Augmented Reality technology. The camera will also snap photos of the players, usually at the most embarrassing times, that you can upload and share on the Alive & Kicking website.
The audio is a bit lacking with minimal, but fun music that varies across the different games and the menus, and all the expected sound effects for the various events work nicely, but most of this is overshadowed by the incessant whines and BWAHS of the Rabbids who just never shut up. A few of the games support the Kinect mic and will have you talking/shouting at your TV to interact with the game.
Rabbids: Alive & Kicking is definitely a unique approach to playing around with those mischievous critters. Much of the insanity and charm is back along with some new physical gameplay that might prove a bit too much for those, like myself, who come unprepared. It’s playable alone, but infinitely more fun when shared with likeminded friends who don’t embarrass easily, even when you’re face-to-butt with a friend trying to fill in that elephant outline. If you have a Kinect then you'll want to check this out; even if it’s just a rental for your next game party night.