I’ve been avoiding this review. Thinking about anything other than this. Seriously unprofessional I know but I’ve hated thinking about this game. You know when you learn how CGI is made and you watch a film like Dungeons and Dragons and just cringe so many times yet feel sorry for the makers who clearly worked far too hard on it? When you see documentaries of beaming pride when you know the end result is just a mess of too many ideas crammed into unworkable nonsense? RabiRibi is that for me.
I love anime style videogames and there are so many good ones now (looking forward to Gintama Rumble!) but I’ve just never been a fan of the Senran Kagura style over the top cheesecake fest that some games push for. Still Shantae And The Pirates Curse was a bit like that and I loved that game, the gameplay and charm was so good it was easy to overlook. So here we are with RabiRibi which I want to keep calling RabiRabi (The town in the game is even called RabiRabi!). I got to have a go on it at London ComicCon and it felt quirky and interesting enough to warrant a review. It seems the buzz from the expo clearly coloured my opinion quite in favour of this because the more I play of it the more I wonder, “Did I really like it that much or was it just a break from walking through crowds of people?”. Did I just buy into a Molyneux?
So RabiRibi is a quirky unique game on paper, Part 2D Platformer, Part RPG, Part Bullet Hell and Part Metroidvania. It looks and even feels a little like Rogue Legacy but without the Rogue heart with the game following a linear path with a story broken into chapters and set levels. All on paper sounds great but the reality is just horribly lacking being setup as long drudges through simple drab terrain, bumping into areas you can’t access without a feature unlocked later and the occasional bullet hell boss for literal ‘reasons’ level of story telling and little sense of achievement.
One of the biggest issues with this game is the controls. Bullet hell games typically need you to have tight controls and 2D platforming just doesn’t typically lend itself to that formula. It can work (Megaman & Nier spring to mind) but only if the gameplay is tight. The main attack in RabiRibi is mapped to Triangle so not a great start. Of all the places to put your main attack Triangle seems bizarre. You can use the main hammer attack in combos, square is used for fairy shooting which is a rapid fire shot that can change depending on power-ups and you use X for jump. Hand cramp from playing a game is not a selling point. Although with the artstyle the way it is maybe that’s the idea?
The platforming is a bit of a slippery mess, something that just never quite feels satisfying and usually results in taking a hit from not quite timing a jump or landing (not helped by your characters entire model being the hit box). The design of the monsters is terrible as well with many things you thought to be just decoration being enemies, resulting in shooting objects just to see if they hurt first. The RPG elements must be the selling point then? Sadly the stats just make it a number grind in an Elder Scrolls way of “doing something levels up the something”. The bullet hell aspect isn’t even very well thought out either, devolving into occasional bosses that feel cheap. Especially so when you realise some attacks fill the screen and you have to take damage, whittling the battle from a game of skill and reflex to chugging health items and grinding.
I really want to like the artwork for this game, you can see the polish and quality but the poses, outfits and 90% chesty girls in compromising positions just feels like the talent is wasted. It also doesn’t really fit when shifting to the 2D mode with sprites being wide and chibi and often too big for the gameplay to function. The menu’s and UI look good and the text and little brush ups all over (such as banners and icons) look nice it’s just a shame the levels and design don’t reflect this. The entire game ends up looking like an indie project with incredibly simple level design that looks bland and at many points doesn’t function as a visual guide to anything.
The music is frankly annoying. Five second loops that overstay their welcome very quickly. You can understand the thought process, “we need to make sure people remember where they are as the worlds going to be huge”. Yes that’s true but a Nokia ring tone on loop isn’t going to cut it. The boss music that pops up is a welcome relief from the droning bit tunes that at first feel charming but the longer the game runs the more they drive you insane.
The story starts off well enough and I feel like it’s a good summary of the game in general. Interesting, a little bit dark but ultimately skip-able. After a while you wonder why your even doing anything in the game. A bullet hell that doesn’t know how to do it and just throws multiple options at you even if they are essentially useless. A 2D platformer that feels very Game-maker tutorial. A story that needed a lot more work before it was used and less insultingly cliche. Great artwork stuck with terrible source material and limitations. I love rabbits, I like games but I can’t like RabiRibi.
2/10 – RabiRabi.