Rayman: Raving Rabbids Interview (PS3)
Ubisoft: As far as I know, you haven't directly worked on a Rayman game in several years. Why return to the franchise now?
Michel Ancel: The last Rayman I worked on was Rayman2 for Nintendo 64. Even if technically, we were beginners at 3d, it was a fantastic project, simply because it was fresh and funny. After Beyond Good & Evil and Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie, I wanted to go back to a more simple type of game and focus on game-play and crazy humorous situations.
Ubisoft: Which systems is Raving Rabbids coming to? Which is the lead SKU?
Michel Ancel: Rayman Raving Rabbids has been announced as a launch title for Wii, plus the landscape of current and next gen consoles. We will have more official word on those soon!
Ubisoft: Let's talk about the Wii version of Raving Rabbids. What is the storyline for the game?
Michel Ancel: I wanted the story to be as simple as possible. The rabbits, for centuries, have prepared an invasion…Now it’s time for them to rule the world. It’s very cliché and ludicrous, far from complex storytelling. It’s very simple but at the same time, it’s an opportunity to develop the characters and the situations. The story is not about legends, lost civilizations or things like that. It’s a comedy, like Mars Attacks or some Monty Python movies, I‘d like it to sound absurd and funny.
Ubisoft: What is Rayman's main objective in Raving Rabbids?
Michel Ancel: Love and power! Rayman will have to save the world and his girlfriend and the girl friend of his old enemy, and his old enemy too!!! It starts like a caricature of a video game scenario but the more you play and the more it’s going to be surprising and totally out of control. The fans of the series will find most of the characters they loved, but in new situations…just because the rabbits are going to use them for ….um….strange purposes….I can’t tell you anything else just yet…
Ubisoft: How are the Wii controller and nunchuck attachment being used to control Rayman? Please go into detail.
Michel Ancel: A lot of our innovative new control features were shown in our trailer at E3. I will talk a bit about those…but we don’t want to divulge too much just yet! Ray’s movements: with the nunchuck stick you can move Rayman…jumping, rolling and running. Fighting: this part is very different from what you are used to: the Wii controller (remote part) allows us to create deep interaction between Rayman and the player. If you give a real punch move, Rayman makes the same punch on screen: i.e. you make a punch from right to left, Rayman does the same move from right to left. If you shake the controller, Rayman will do some special kung-fu style moves. Grappling: If you make a quick move with the nunchuck, Rayman will grapple the nearest enemies/objects. You can then make them spin around Rayman and throw them (as projectiles) just by swinging the nunchack around your head. Dive attack (one of the super attacks): while Rayman is in the air, he can perform an earthquake ground shaking move. Just take both pads downwards to do it. These controls are very easy to learn because both of your hands directly control Rayman’s hands. Rayman will also be able to use creatures in the game. To ride them, you have to twist the Wii main controller in order to direct the creatures in certain ways. You can imagine that it feels very natural to control an eagle in the air or a shark under water, just by moving your hands in the direction you want to go. Last but not least: You will be able to dance with the bunnies! I will let your imagination fly on that one..!
Ubisoft: You've released some screenshots of Rayman Raving Rabbids. Are these from the Wii version?
Michel Ancel: Yes, so far they all come from the Wii version of the game.
Ubisoft: Raving Rabbids is a Wii launch title, which makes us happy. How long has the title been in development and how big is the team working on it?
Michel Ancel: While we were developing Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie in 2005, a small team was in pre-production working on prototypes for the new Rayman. As soon as King Kong went gold, the whole Montpellier team (about 70 people) switched to work intensively on Rayman Raving Rabbids.
Ubisoft: The game seems focused on super-crazed rabbits. In some cases, there appear to be hundreds of them on-screen. Is this possible on Wii? How do these scenarios unfold in the game world? In other words, does Rayman often have to beat up on these rabbits?
Michel Ancel: The Rabbits are hundreds, they are vicious but at the same time, they are totally stupid. The game is story driven but the player will experience a lot of combinations of game-play before succeeding to stop the rabbits’ invasion. For example, you can fight the rabbits but if you need to control them for some tasks, you can also hypnotize them with disco music! To achieve this goal, you’ll be able to select a music and if you manage to dance following the good rhythm, the rabbits will start dancing with you and you’ll be able to take control of them. Taking control of the rabbits will allow you to access new areas of the game. It’s interesting to manipulate your enemies. Depending on their powers and abilities, you’ll have different reactions and surprises. On top of that, you’ll be able to invoke dark creatures of the Rayman’s world, in order to fight against giant rabbit’s colossus. The game is going to be completely open, so you’ll be able to navigate freely and move from situation to situation with different companions, items, or dark creatures…Using the Wii controller for dancing, riding and fighting is natural just because it’s possible to make those moves by manipulating the orientation or controlling the acceleration. You will need such a powerful tool to stop the rabbit invasion!
Ubisoft: Will the Wii version of the game run in progressive-scan and 16x9 widescreen modes?
Michel Ancel: I can’t confirm it yet.
Ubisoft: What target framerate are you aiming for?
Michel Ancel: We target a framerate between 30 and 60 fps. Ideally we would like to be as close as possible to 60 as Rayman is an action-packed game that will definitely benefit from and be more enjoyable with a smooth frame rate.
Ubisoft: Are there any plans to take advantage of Wii's 24 Connect Wi-Fi service for either an online multiplayer mode or downloadable updates? If yes, please elaborate.
Michel Ancel: No plans yet.
Ubisoft: Does the game feature a multiplayer mode of any kind? Please elaborate.
Michel Ancel: This new Rayman will be a single player Action Adventure game. At the moment, we have no plan of having any multiplayer mode and we want to focus on offering a great single player experience. One thing I would like to add though: you will see load of fresh, crazy and unexpected content in this game…
Ubisoft: What do you think of the Wii hardware and the innovative controller?
Michel Ancel: Hardware: Perfect to develop games. Easy to program, you can concentrate on developing new ideas and pushing your game-play. Controller: Definitely innovative. This controller opens new ways to play games. As gamers, we will rediscover how to enjoy video games. As developers, we must rethink our controls and game-play to push the interactivity and immersion even further.
Ubisoft: Finally, do you have any final words for Wii fans who are anticipating the game?
Michel Ancel: Rayman on Wii is going to be the craziest Rayman of all. It will be easy to pick up and play, packed with a lot of humor and immersive action. Stop those bunnies!!