Rabi-Ribi

Year: 2017
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Review Date: 2/19/20
Rating: ***

A magician's pet rabbit named Erina disappears and wakes up in another dimension with a human body and wearing a classic Playboy bunny costume. Additionally, her bunny ears are real. When she makes it back to her magical home world, she encounters hoards of bunny lovers who want to capture her, since bunny girls are exceedingly rare for some reason. She also rescues and befriends a forest fairy named Ribbon, who provides a ranged attack that complements Erina's hammer-based melee attacks. Erina eventually learns that her world is under attack by external forces that are causing the "bunny phenomenon," and that she must seek out magic users across the land to help transport her back to the human world so that she can stop the source of the trouble. Or something like that. The story is complete nonsense and extremely difficult to follow.

The game utilizes traditional Metroidvania inspired gameplay and world design. Erina gains access to more areas as she upgrades her skills, which pits her against increasingly difficult opponents. The whole "Playboy bunny girl with giant hammer" character is undeniably Japanese, and is surprisingly common in Japanese video games. Erina's melee attacks and Ribbon's ranged attacks both consume energy which slowly regenerates over time, so combat involves constantly managing both attack styles to match a given situation and optimize the regeneration process. The controls are tight and fairly simple, although there are some button mapping issues that have weird side effects. The most notable problems are that you can't back out of the teleport screen without performing an attack, and the D-pad doesn't work unless you go into the options menu and back out. Very odd.

The game is very cute and colorful, and the character sprites are adorable. My only complaint is that the graphics are extremely blocky, and the characters would look so much better if they were rendered at a higher resolution. The backgrounds use 2x pixels while the characters are rendered with 3x pixels. Static high-res character art is used during conversation scenes, which really brings the characters to life. The dialog is also pretty clever and has a fun sense of humor. With the exception of some pervy guys with cameras in the human world, all of the characters in the game are female, which gives rise to lots of sexy anime styling and exposed skin. The music is perky and pleasant, but not particularly memorable.

The game offers multiple difficulties, and I found the "casual" setting to be just right for me. Even with that, boss battles can be extremely tough and bullet patterns are downright brutal. Completing the main story arc takes between 10-15 hours, but after the credits play, there's still at least a third of the map left to explore and three more chapters to finish. After the credits, another threat appears in Elina's world, which requires her and Ribbon to fight characters from the "Inverse World." However, these new challenges are considerably more difficult than anything in the earlier chapters, and I gave up pretty quickly. I also realized that no matter how long I played the game, I would never get any meaningful sense of closure. Completing the main story also unlocks an alternate costume for Erina, which is rather pointless because the character sprites are so small and lack so much detail.

Before it became too hard, I enjoyed my time with "Rabi-Ribi" quite a bit, and I found myself obsessed with trying to explore as much of the map as possible and discover hidden secrets. While the menus are clunky and the game isn't as polished as it could be, anyone who enjoys Metroidvania styled exploration, bullet hell action sequences, and cute anime bunny girls should probably check it out.