Rabi-Ribi Review (PS4)
Rabbits are not often given the respect they deserve in video games! This cute and fluffy creature is often depicted as a crazed fiend, a nincompoop, or a delightful yet vulnerable sidekick. Rabi-Ribi attempts to correct this injustice by letting you control Erina. A rabbit that has been transformed into a cute anime girl on a quest to find her master and the circumstances behind her transformation.
A title strongly influenced by both the Metroidvania and Bullet Hell genres. Erina’s odyssey will take you around Rabi-Rabi island as you encounter its residents.
Curiously, these residents are all female and none appear to be older than 18. While the world itself is not particularly cruel or brutal, there is a rogue bunny cloud roaming around to influence these ladies to attack Erina with little to no provocation. Striking such regularity, that the game actively acknowledges it and characters comment on it.
Fortunately, it appears that although she was a mere bunny hours before, Erina is no slouch when it comes to combat and defending herself. She starts off with a simple hammer combo that gets stronger as you use it. Like most Metroidvania style games, there are a fair few abilities to pick up and upgrade along the course of the game. The bullet hell aspect of the game comes in from the magic bullets and attacks that enemies fling at our bunny eared protagonist. Erina may be out numbered, but she is far from outgunned thanks to her fairy friend Ribbon that she meets early on who is there to assault Erina’s foes with a variety of magic attacks.
Rabi-Ribi’s combat requires you to be more methodical and tactical than a lot of its contemporaries. Erina and Ribbon both have stamina bars that will deplete quickly if you hammer attacks out with them. While Erina brings the melee portion with her hammer, you will need to effectively use Ribbon and her bullet attacks to mix it up and ensure that your combo keeps going. Whether it’s her yellow laser that keeps a constant beam on the enemy, or the green homing bullets that can get you a bit of health back if it lands, each weapon and ability that you pick up along the way will have situations that you will be able to use to your advantage. And to keep the odds in your favour. Thankfully the controls are responsive and intuitive, which can really be make or break in a game where fast reaction times are required.
The cutesy aesthetic Rabi-Ribi projects really attempts to mask the fact that, at its core, it can get pretty challenging. As you slide and fly about the screen while bullets crash down from every angle, and in boss battles particularly, you may be overwhelmed if you are not used to the bullet hell genre. You are however rewarded for skill. The higher your combo rank is, the higher your attack damage bonus is. Up to a maximum of 50%, which you will want as some of the later bosses can be heavy hitters. Getting hit, or not attacking, will reduce your combat rank. So learning how to mix it up is the key to success.
While exploring the many locations within Rabi-Ribi’s world, you will often find badges that give you useful passive abilities, such as poison, or additional attack power. You can equip these badges using Pack Points. But these points are fairly limited so you will have to pick the perks that appeal to your play style. If things still prove to be too difficult, you can go to a character in the menu and lower the difficulty. Or raise it if you’re feeling up to the challenge.
The story in Rabi-Ribi, succeeds at being simultaneously interesting, cliché, and too verbose considering the level of interaction that is had between characters. Almost every introduction to a new character begins with a cutscene where they speak at you at length before succumbing to the evil designs of the mysterious bunny cloud. Which inevitably leads to you having a brutal fight with them. Only to have them chastise you for attacking them so ferociously, or making an abrupt exit without an apology. Manners are clearly not rife on Rabi-Rabi island!
Although all of the characters neatly fit into the anime girl archetypes you tend to find in visual novels. They were interesting and varied enough for me to actively want to find out the secrets all of them were hiding. Do not expect any revelatory or distressing turns. Rabi-Ribi is at its core a light-hearted romp complemented by solid gameplay. The character interactions are also complemented by great artwork. Although some of them veer into fanservice territory, with slightly leering shots of Erina in one particular scene. Which definitely dipped into cringeworthy territory. Although none of the scenes were particularly egregious.
While the graphics are sprite based, the overall style of the sprites and the varied and colourful locations you travel to throughout the game were a treat to look at. The music in this game is annoyingly catchy as well, away from my playtime I found myself humming the boss and overworld themes. If you love midi based techno themes, you might be in for a treat here. Also there is a wealth of content, with speed run and boss rush modes to unlock.
Rabi-Ribi in my 10-12 hour playthrough never amazed or disappointed me. It is an interesting and entertaining game, that suffers from a lack of originality. If you are a fan of bullet hell games like the Touhou series and Castlevania. Rabi-Ribi is a good mix of your tastes with a cutesy chibi-anime feel. But it probably will not bring in fans outside of these genres.
7 piko hammers out of 10