With its retro style and deeper than expected gameplay mechanics, Rabi-Ribi is an excellent new addition to the Vita library. Also available on PS4, here is our review.
In a bizarre hybrid of Playboy bunnies and metrovania-style gameplay, Rabi-Ribi has you starring as Erina. She was once a perfectly normal little rabbit, but was magically turned into a human girl (yet still sporting a set of rabbit ears). The gameplay that follows is of the 2D platforming variety, with a hefty dose of exploration, upgrading and a bit of backtracking all included in the mix.
On Erina’s quest to make sense of everything and find her way back to what she considers her normal life, she befriends the fairy Ribbon – who aids her in her journey. Ribbon isn’t directly controlled by the player, but does support you by using her ranged attacks and you can also spend upgrade points on making her stronger. These are mostly acquired by finding items spread around the game world, so exploration is highly encouraged.
Adding abilities also changes the nature of the gameplay, since you start out with just melee attacks but will be able to unlock ranged weapons later as well – which doesn’t just affect the base gameplay but also the ways in which you can approach the numerous boss battles in the game. Switching between weapons, and doing so at the right time, is crucial to being successful – especially on the harder difficulty levels. Of course, in true Metroidvania fashion, there are also areas you can’t reach without first activating an upgrade – like a double jump, for instance. The game is well designed in the sense that you can see what’s left to unlock and teleport over there so as to not backtrack endlessly.
If that exploration and the length aren’t enough, then there are also a few extra ways to play the game including Boss Rush and Speedrun modes – as well as post-campaign content for when you complete the main story. Stringing the actual story campaign together are wonderfully drawn, high resolution visuals – though they’re in a style that won’t appeal to everyone. These bunny girls are often barely dressed, which I’m sure some people will take offense to. This is a bit of a shame, because the 2D platformer that lurks underneath is wonderful to play and shouldn’t be missed.
Once you progress further in the story, the action gets more hectic and the game gets infused with bullet hell influences as well – something that can be especially true for boss fights, which makes the Boss Rush mode a challenge in itself that feels almost like a completely different game. Without the platforming and exploration elements, Boss Rush feels like a nice “pick up and play” mode to enjoy after beating the game.
Rabi-Ribi’s relatively basic retro style allows it to perform well on the Playstation Vita. It looks and plays nearly identical to the PS4 version, which is great to see this late into the Vita’s lifecycle. The controls are tight and responsive on either system, and because the gameplay is fun and well-designed, this is one of the year’s better Vita titles. Let’s hope it doesn’t get overlooked like a niche title, because this is a title all Metroidvania fans with a Vita should check out.