Review: Rabi-Ribi – PS Vita (8/10)

Platform: PS VitaGenre: Action-PlatformerDeveloper: Crespirit
Publisher: Sekai Project PQube
Release Date: 2017 September 1, 2017
Price:To be announcedTo be announced
File size:659 MB
Review by 2 Old 4 Gaming

When I first saw screens for Rabi-Ribi, I assumed this was not going to be a game for me. The cute and colourful graphics made me think this was some kids game. It surprised me then how deep and interesting the game turned out to be. I enjoy metroidvanias and Rabi-Ribi is an excellent addition to the genre.

Story

Rabi-Ribi PS Vita

You play as Erina. A rabbit that wakes up one day to discover she’s been turned into a human/bunny hybrid. The people of her world have become enchanted and obsessed with bunnies, so that when anyone sees her, they try to kill her. She finds her master who tells her that they need to power up a mystic stone to allow them to find Erina’s master’s sister and uncover the mystery about her transformation and the spell that is affecting the people of her world. In order to power up the stone she needs to locate magic users, so she goes on a quest with her fairy friend, Ribbon,to find magic users throughout the world.

The basic premise of the story is fine. I was interested in finding out what had happened to the world and how Erina was transformed from a bunny to a half human. I also enjoyed the journey to recruit new magic users. However, the story became too confusing over the course of the game with unecessary twists being thrown in that made it a bit too silly. You meet a lot of characters, the magic users, along the way. There were almost too many characters because they weren’t well fleshed out. There was some self-referential humour at least which made my chuckle occasionally.

Rabi-Ribi PS Vita

The game knows the story is silly and so having the characters comment on some of the random events made it easier to digest. Like when moving from one area to another, one of the characters questioned how they had gone from a beach area to a snowy mountain. I liked that the game at least acknowledged that it was silly. The dialog between characters was awkward at times. I’m not sure if this was intentional or bad translation but some statements didn’t make much sense. The story and characters were the weakest part of the game, which was a shame because it did start off interesting.

Gameplay

Rabi-Ribi is a metroidvania. It’s a 2D action platformer where you unlock new abilities that open up new areas on a world map. You start the game very weak with just a hammer for melee attacks, and movement felt pretty stiff. As you discover new abilities and unlock upgrades, Erina becomes a powerful fighter. You can unlock double jumps, air attacks, a variety of projectiles, sliding attacks, bombs and many more abilities. When I first started playing, I did not enjoy the stiffness of the movements and attacks.

Rabi-Ribi PS Vita

When you use your hammer there is a cool down before you can perform another combo. I found this very awkward because I just wanted to hit enemies and having to pause from fighting every few seconds was jarring. The game became so much more fun as I discovered the new abilities and upgraded my hammer to perform longer and longer combos. The pause to recharge was still there but it was less of a problem as you played the game.

The new abilities were necessary, not just for unlocking new areas but also to handle the difficulty of the game. I found the first 3 chapters of the game to be very very easy. I only died once in the first 3 chapters. The difficulty significantly rampled up from chapter 4 onwards. I was dying quite frequently on boss battles and when I did win, I normally scrapped through with a sliver of health. I hadn’t spent any time grinding up to that point, but from chapter 4 onwards I took time out to grind and buy upgrades. The hub town has a shop where you can buy upgrades to abilities or you can upgrade your stats like health, attack, etc. I quite liked that I could choose the upgrades to buy so that I can focus on the stats and abilities that suit my play style.

Rabi-Ribi PS Vita

The design of the world map is impressive. The areas connect together in a smart way and there are so many secret routes to unlock when you acquire new abilities. The world is completely open to you. You’re given objectives to find magic users and you’ll have the locations of a couple of them highlighted on your map at any time. But you don’t need to just focus on the areas highlighted in the objectives. You can go to any area and explore it provided you have the right abilities to unlock the route and your strong enough to handle the increased difficulty.

Similar to other 2D action platformers, you attack enemies with your hammer for melee attacks or you can use your fairy companion, Ribbon, to attack with projectiles. The publisher PQube has called the game a “Bouncy bullet-hell platformer” and the bullet hell aspect comes from the boss fights. Bosses attack you with a variety of lasers, bullets and missiles flying all over the screen. I found it pretty much impossible to avoid all bullets and took damage often. Boss fights were very much about minimising damage and knowing when to let yourself get hit so that you have the few seconds of invulnerability to avoid a bigger attack.

Rabi-Ribi PS Vita

The boss fights were challenging but also a lot of fun. My only criticism of the boss fights was that they all felt really similar. Bullets and lasers were flying everywhere so it was hard to differentiate them in my mind. There were a few that were genuinely different, like fighting under water or an arena where the platforms disappear and drop you onto spikes. These were more memorable, but they were memorable because of the environment of the fight rather than the boss itself. There were also a lot of boss fights and mid boss fights.

It seemed like very 20-30 minutes I was encountering another boss. Ive always been a fan of big end level fights that test your skills up to that point and are keeping with the theme of the level, but having so many made them feel less special. Fortunately, the battle system was really good, so even if they weren’t special, they were still fun.

Rabi-Ribi PS Vita

Playing on PS Vita, I did find some stuttering in the gameplay. This didn’t happen during boss fights surprisingly despite there being dozens of projectiles on screen at a time. It happened more when walking through the levels. It was annoying but didn’t ruin the game for me and didn’t result in me taking unecessary damage.

Graphics

I really liked the bright, pixel art graphics. They were detailed and the main characters and bosses had their own unique designs. There were also a lot of different enemy types too. The most common were the girls obsessed with bunnies that kept trying to attack you, but each area had their own distinct enemies to discover that suited their stage, like the giant mushrooms in the forest area or the killer fish in the underwater area. Cutscenes had hand drawn characters and these had the girls in risque clothing. Rabi-Ribi is a really good game so it seemed unnecessary to add in girls in skimpy clothing. I felt the same way about Criminal Girls 2 – it’s a good game so why bother with limiting its appeal by making it smutty? Rabi-Ribi was no where on the level of Criminal Girls 2, but it just felt unecessary when you’ve got a solid game already.

Rabi-Ribi PS Vita

Music & Sound

The music was surprisingly good. Each area’s music suited it well and I liked the upbeat tunes that suited Erina’s personality. I wouldn’t necessarily buy the album, but the songs were decent and complimented the overall game.

Conclusion

Rabi-Ribi is a really good game that gets better the more you play it. The story was the weakest aspect but when the game is as fun to play and is as well-designed as this, the story becomes less important. The game is challenging and trying to explore the full map and unlock all the abilities will take over 20 hours. The Vita has some excellent metroidvania games and Rabi-Ribi is a great addition to the genre on Vita.

Rabi-Ribi Video Review:

 

The review was written and provided by 2 Old 4 Gaming. All screenshots are from the PS Vita version. The review is based on a review copy which was provided by the publisher.

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