In a world where mobile gaming is pretty handily cornered by the Angry Birds franchise (albeit, not as much recently), physics-centric puzzle games are, well, kind of the name of the game. Rabbids Big Bang is such a fresh twist on the “hurl your critter to complete a level” concept that I’m hard-pressed to really compare it to anything. But with a bit of practice, and a healthy dose of repeated frustration, this game is bound to win puzzle lovers over, if only at first.
As most classic gamers know, the Rabbids series is almost as seasoned as they come. These sassy, buck-toothed space rabbits are actually characters from the Rabbids Rayman series. Admittedly, I haven’t played more than 15 collective minutes of the original, but its reputation sitting somewhere between Mega Man and Crash Bandicoot precedes it enough to know that it’s pretty well loved. And the Rabbids games (which have been made not only for mobile but also consoles) are a lot of fun in their own right.
Rabbids Big Bang is a fresh twist on the brand of physics puzzlers made popular by Angry Birds. The central concept of the game is as follows: beginning the game on one of a series of worlds you launch your jetpack-equipped Rabbid character (done by smacking him with a bat) out of the atmosphere and into space. The goal is to collect coins, hit flying saucers or complete slingshot laps around the planet (or the others in that level’s galaxy). Similar to Angry Birds the initial throw and its trajectory are hugely important. But, once you’re in the air, you control the rabbid in a very simple way—you ascend and descend using jetpack bursts.
The trick to this game is getting used to the atmospheric physics. With Angry Birds, the very familiar “earthly” gravity was understood right out of the gate. But in this game you’re bound by the gravitational pull of your home planet. But not only that, you have to adjust to the gravities of the other planets in the level if you enter their atmosphere. This is an especially difficult task because sometimes you’re hovering below a planet, but its pull is sucking you upwards. It’s a disorienting interplay that caused some serious “ugh” moments for me.
The level structure reminded me of classic puzzle games. There are a bunch of “worlds” and within each, there are more than a dozen levels to complete. Because the game is broken up into a handful of sections like this, you can get used to the color schemes and difficulty levels within each world rather easily. It’s a tried-and-true technique for gauging accomplishment and “graduating” to new parts of a game.
Rabbid’s difficulty level aptly sits between “simple” and “tricky.” But the question with puzzle games that don’t really have a strong story is: “how addicting are they?” Let’s face it; most casual gamers won’t make it through the exhaustive quantity of levels. And at the just-right price point of $0.99, that’s okay. With that said, the game did miss out on a lot of “come back and play me” potential. Just like with survival games, simplicity only works if I want to play it in my spare time, and often.
Why isn’t it addictive, though? Well, the physics (while cool in concept), proved to be more of a hindrance than a challenge. At the end of the day, it was overly difficult to control rabbids when switching planets, and once you leave the atmosphere, the “floaty” effect really just delayed level timing and confused the rest of the physics, ultimately causing more frustration than fun.
So, what’s the verdict here? Well, as I said, the concept of the game got old quickly and I really never grasped the “feel” for it like I normally do with puzzle games. So, I couldn’t really even get to the point where I could assess the difficulty of later levels. The game lost me by the third world, and while I did finish more than that, I wasn’t enthralled. That said, the concept is really clever, and the playfulness of the characters gave me a little of that warm fuzzy feeling. I’m an N64 kid after all. As an added bonus the soundtrack and music added even more to the playfulness, hearkening me back to afternoons with Zelda and Crash Bandicoot.
At the end of the day, the game is just alright. It gave me a couple hours of total entertainment. I liked the multi-planet puzzles, and the frustration of getting used to the gravity complication presented enough of a challenge for a while. But after that, the game goes from pretty good to repetitive, flat and slightly unrealized. If you’re a fan of this franchise, however, then by all means go for it. But at the end of the day you’d be better served sticking with Rayman.