Software Review: Cookie's choice

I have a confession to make: As the devoted co-owner of a year-old mocha-colored bunny named Cookie, I wasn't sure whether I was objective enough to review this game in which hundreds of cartoon rabbits are tossed into the air, shot at with rubber-and-wood sink plungers and blown up.

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July 12, 2007 08:38
3 minute read.
rabbit disk 88

rabbit disk 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Rayman Raving Rabbits, a DVD-ROM by Ubisoft, translated into Hebrew and distributed with a 10-page Hebrew-language user's manual by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows XP or better and a Pentium 4 PC, for ages five through 13, NIS 219. Rating: **** I have a confession to make: As the devoted co-owner of a year-old mocha-colored bunny named Cookie, I wasn't sure whether I was objective enough to review this Rayman game in which hundreds of cartoon rabbits are tossed into the air, shot at with rubber-and-wood sink plungers and blown up. In the name of fairness, I set Cookie down on the table in front of my computer screen between the mouse and the keyboard so she could be a fair observer. Yet since she grunts (rabbits are supposed to be silent, but they are not necessarily) both when she is excited (as when she gets celery leaves) and displeased (when she is put back into her hutch), I couldn't be absolutely sure of her final verdict. The PC version of this game, part of a series starring the armless and legless character Rayman, follows the Nintendo Wii console version, which uses Wiimote and Nunchuk devices that are moved in the air to perform assignments instead of the PC's mouse and keyboard keys. But the PC version is fun, even though it's an arcade game composed solely of nearly 80 mini-games connected by an almost nonexistent story. The whole escapade will take about five hours for younger children and half that for older ones, but it is certainly not suitable for the three-year-old minimum displayed on the box (set since it doesn't involve bloodshed or violence against humans) because there are Hebrew instructions to read for each mini-game. It can be played alone (or with a bunny observer) and against up to three friends who have gamepads attached to the same PC's USB connection. Rayman, a creature with gloved hands and shoe-clad feet that are not attached to his body, goes on a picnic one sunny day with green frogs called Globoxes. All of a sudden, holes open up in the ground around them, and crazed, tunnel-digging rabbits appear and destroy the party. Rayman is then kidnapped by a rabbit Goliath named Serguei, who takes the poor hero over his shoulder to the depths of a dungeon. It is your task to win enough games and plumber's helpers, which at the end will be stuck at different heights on the wall of the dungeon and let him climb out to freedom. Rayman is brought to a colosseum with hundreds of rabbit spectators and has to carry out four missions for each. The mini-games begin at a lower level and gradually become more difficult and complicated. For example, you have to click a key or rub your mouse on the table continuously to run with a gift package to its destination before it explodes in a rabbit's hands; in another early mission, you have to use your mouse to redraw a series of geometric figures that appear on the screen. Cookie, who has a higher IQ than that required for these tasks, yawned. But things do get more exciting. There is a line of outdoor toilets where rabbits sit: You have to sweat to click their doors closed after they open one after the other and an angry bunny protests the invasion of its privacy. You also are responsible for a beachside race of wild boars, whose riders are rabbits, and for shooting at rabbits that have overrun a train in the Wild West. One of the most sophisticated challenges is using the mouse to tilt a 3-D box covered with ice to get little balls to fall into holes. Cookie pricked up her ears with interest. But she really didn't seem to like a bowling game in which 12 rabbits are set on the edge of a rail as a barrel speeds toward them to knock them down. She appreciated more the mini-game that squirts carrot juice inside the diving masks of rabbits going scuba diving. As you win more games, you not only get plumber's helpers but can also unlock pieces of background music and new clothes (such as an Elvis or cow's outfit) and accessories for Rayman, even though - legless and armless - there isn't a lot for him to wear. Younger kids will enjoy pitting themselves against the computer and the rabbits during the summer vacation. It is repetitive, but it can be played almost endlessly. However, I will be very strict about the amount of time I let Cookie spend with this disk. After all, I don't want her to turn into a raving, rabid rabbit.

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