Ooh, somebody's having a bit of fun aren't they Michel Ansel? Yes, we're talking to you, Mister developer-man. Bringing Rayman back with a bit of a bang are we? Trying to buck a few trends eh? Trying to kick-start the limbless wonder, eh? Well, we've stroked our chins, we've tilted our heads and looked at it side-on, and you know what? Rayman Raving Rabbids looks the mutts nuts. We can honestly say we didn't see this one coming. A bit like the human race. Rabbits are preparing to take over the world you see.
"I wanted the story to be as simple as possible", Michel Ansel tells us. "The rabbits, for centuries, have prepared an invasion... Now it's time for them to rule the world. There are hundreds of rabbits but they are vicious at the same time, and they're totally stupid."
Ansel says the story is very clichéd and ludicrous, and 'far from complex storytelling', but that's the point you see, Raving Rabbids is going to be a return to daft, dare we say it, almost 'Nintendo' gameplay (little wonder it's a Wii launch title).
"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."
And the story itself? Well, Rayman will have to save the world and his girlfriend and the girlfriend of his old enemy, and his old enemy too. It starts like a caricature of a videogame scenario, but the more we play the more it's going to be surprising and totally out of control. According to Ansel, fans of the series will find most of the characters they loved, but in new situations in which the rabbits have gained a foothold.
And how will Rayman sort the rabbits out? Well, remember, these rabbits are stoopid, so there'll be plenty of opportunity to manipulate the arse off them.
The game is story-driven, but the player will experience a lot of combinations of gameplay before succeeding to stop the rabbits' invasion. For example, you can fight the rabbits with Rayman's trademark punches, but if you need to control them for some tasks, you can also hypnotize them with disco music. To achieve this goal, we'll be able to select a track and, if we manage to dance following the good rhythm, the rabbits will start dancing with us and we'll be able to take control of them.
Taking control of the rabbits will allow us to access new areas of the game too, such as the secret rabbity warrens and bonus areas where Rayman would usually be set upon (there are rumoured to be 'hundreds' of rabbit enemies on-screen at some points throughout the game).
Depending on an enemy's powers and abilities, you'll have different reactions and surprises, so if you manage to hypnotise a lowly grunt, your abailities will be less than those of a possessed warrior rabbit (what these specific skills happen to be, Ansel is being very hush hush about). "On top of that, we'll be able to invoke dark creatures of the Rayman's world, in order to fight against giant rabbit's colossus". Erm, what? Sorry, the what? The 'Colossus'? Again, Ansel is deathly silent.
Raving Rabbids is going to be a completely open, sandbox affair, so we'll be able to navigate freely and move from situation to situation with different companions, items, or dark creatures, but that's all we're being told so far. If we've learned anything though, its that this Rayman is going to be a far, far cry from the platforming jaunts of Raymans past.