The Rub Rabbits

The Rub Rabbits

It feels strangely satisfying to make loud sexual noises in public and be able to blame it on a handheld games console. Not that we would condone such practice – not after the restraining order – but heads were certainly turning when Project Rub was released for the Nintendo DS last year. Now that Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, SEGA really do want us to ‘feel the magic’, once more, with The Rub Rabbits promising more absurdity and touching than ever before.

The Rub Rabbits is essentially the same game as its predecessor, with the story revolving around some bloke who fancies some bird and said bloke’s attempt at wooing that bird. Maybe we’re old fashioned, but we tend to respond to our ‘love at first sight’ experiences with a cheesy chat-up line that garners a slap in the face in return. And possibly a burp or two somewhere inbetween if we happen to have been drinking.

When our hero spots an attractive filly however, you’ll end up unicycling on scaffolding, throwing snowballs at robot bears, and chucking your sweetheart up trees. And that’s not counting the fact that this time you have many rivals all vying for the same lady, and another girl that falls in love with the main character.

The graphics are very artistic, with silhouetted characters, cutscenes as if they were lifted from an obscure manga and a visual style that can be considered an art form in itself. We have seen it before in Project Rub, but seeing them again is no bad thing, and the animation on the models seem to have improved.

We can’t help but feel though that some of the impact that The Rub Rabbits is trying to create is lost. Project Rub was a unique title when it was released, with an intruiging new premise on a brand new console. This, in a way, makes The Rub Rabbits less appealing because you know exactly what you’re getting. The art style is still creative but it doesn’t quite grab you in the same way as seeing Project Rub for the first time.

As for the sound, the major selling point for perverse exhibitionists of sensual moaning, inane giggling and the “Rub It!” man-choir remains in The Rub Rabbits. Oddly enough though, the bulk of the music happens to be a revamp of the Can-Can for some strange reason. Perhaps it’s to add to the circus-like nature of the game, which works to capture the atmosphere and insanity of it all, but unfortunately the rest of the music is quite forgettable. Which is a shame, because Project Rub’s main themes were instantly hummable and we were kind of hoping for some more weird, original tunes rather than a remake of a popular theme.

Your journey is now twice as long, with a huge story-mode spanning 37 chapters. The mini games here are not as unique or varied as those found in Project Rub, although they tend to use the dual screens in a few new ways. Some might require you to hold your DS to the side (like a book) or even upside down, in order to use the two screens to their full potential. And there aren’t many instances of a redundant screen either – one game has you checking the top screen to see whether any of your friends are falling asleep, while using the touch screen to slap them awake!

However, some of the games you’ll play are similar or the same as those found in the original game. The ‘Stampede’ game where you must tap oncoming enemies to defeat them makes about two appearances in The Rub Rabbits’ Story mode alone, which seems to show a lack of ideas. Granted, it is insanely difficult to come up with fresh new games all the time, but the Story could have been cut back a few chapters and wouldn’t have suffered for it. Repeat mini-games on a sequel that promises a fresh new experience smacks of padding to us.

As you complete mini-games, beat friends in multi-player and beat high scores in ‘Attack’ mode, you earn love hearts which can be used to garner yourself bonus material. As you play through the Story, more hearts will unlock different modes and games to play in certain settings, but as you complete the Normal mode your sack of hearts is used to obtain new costume pieces to dress up your dream date in the ‘Maniac’ mode. It’s not an entirely convincing reason to keep playing once you’ve completed the Story, but you do open up a ‘Hard’ mode which will keep you coming back every now-and-then to see if you can complete that one mini-game that keeps being cheap on you.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t have fun though. You’ll chuckle playing a strange anime-inspired version of ‘Rock-Paper-Scissors’ against your bitter rivals, while your schoolgirl stalker tries to win your affection by force-feeding you with cake. And blowing you up with heart cannons. There are many more options too, with the aforementioned ‘Maniac’ and ‘Memories’ modes returning from the first game plus new additions, such as ‘Baby Making’ – the ability to create a newborn with a friend/loved one without the legal hassle – multi-player battle versions of story mini-games, and a ‘Hullabaloo’ mode, which has an unlimited number of players having a bizarre but enjoyable form of ‘Hand Twister’ on one DS.

One of the main criticisms from Project Rub that The Rub Rabbits hoped to have fixed was the length of the story mode. Even though The Rub Rabbits is over twice as long, you will still see most of what it has to offer in a few days of on-off play. The appeal to Project Rub and The Rub Rabbits is their sheer eccentricity and addictive nature, so anyone who is interested in the style of this game will want to run through and see everything. Having said that, the story mode really is the only part of the game that you will want to play on and often, as the other modes are really extensions of the story. Again, it seems a little like padding to make the game appear larger than it actually is.

The Rub Rabbits is an enjoyable, extended addition to Project Rub. It’s not as manic, insane or inspiring as its predecessor was, but it’s rather more of the same. Which is fine by us, because for as long as it lasts, The Rub Rabbits is an addictive handheld game. For those that have never experienced Project Rub however, this is a must-buy title, as the extended features and bonus material make it a better buy than the original. One for Valentine’s Day, wethinks.


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Founder of The Sonic Stadium and creator/co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic convention. Loves talking about Sonic the Hedgehog in his spare time. Likes Sonic Colours a little too much for his own good, apparently.


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