The Rub Rabbits!

Review

posted 4/12/2006 by Sean Colleli
other articles by Sean Colleli
One Page Platforms: DS
As you may recall, I previously turned my baleful glare toward Feel the Magic: XX/XY, a bizarre little launch title for the DS. In truth it was more of a tech demo than a game, but it was a labor of love by the venerable Sonic Team, and it was unlike anything else on the market from a stylistic standpoint. With two years worth of experience with the DS, Yuji Naka and his crew of asylum escapees have taken another crack at the burgeoning minigame genre. The end result is called The Rub Rabbits—aptly named for the traveling performance troupe from Feel the Magic.

The first thing fans of Feel the Magic will notice is the art style. Not much has changed—in fact, the presentation has gotten more trippy. The sherbet-soaked backgrounds, 60’s overtones and hallucination-like effects are stronger than ever, for an overall dizzying experience for the uninitiated. The art style remains blissfully minimalist, with black character silhouettes wearing the odd bit of clothing to distinguish individual people. While Feel the Magic’s simplistic visual fingerprint is unaltered, the graphics themselves have seen a bit of an upgrade. Both screens now display 3D polygonal objects and environments, as opposed to the half-and-half illusion from the first game. This technological leap makes for some interesting new gameplay possibilities, but the core play experience is mainly the same.

There’s a new story in Rub Rabbits, one of the strangely endearing characteristics of Magic. It sticks to the love theme established by Magic, but don’t expect Shakespeare—the plot is mostly an excuse for oddball minigames. This time there is a new main character, a goofy college kid who falls head over heels for a statuesque beauty he sees at the mall. The first few levels play in much the same way Magic did, as you attempt to snag the girl’s attention while fending off several rival bachelors. The minigame challenges start off fresh and nonsensical, as expected: your first task is to make it to the top of an escalator, dodging sumo wrestlers as you go. Later, you must blow on the microphone to puff away rivals who happen to be parachuting in to steal your girl. The rivalry ends in a Dragonball Z-esque battle of extreme rock-paper-scissors. Amusing to say the least.

The similarities end early on, however; the girl is impressed enough by your efforts that she starts dating you by the fourth level or so (if only it were that easy here in the real world), but there’s trouble in paradise. A childhood flame (who also happens to be a technical genius) spots you with your new girlfriend and is instantly jealous. The rest of the game plays out as you and your digital object of affection try to evade the machinations of the scheming geeky girl. She’ll be throwing all sorts of comical obstacles in your path, from computer viruses to robotic crabs. When she eventually captures you, you’re forced to avoid her terrible cooking and the love potion hearts she fires from a cannon.
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