Philosophers and science fiction authors have long warned that traveling back in time could have disastrous consequences. The simplest action could alter the flow of history irrevocably, leaving us in a world where fascists rule with an iron fist or donuts rain from the sky. Given this danger, those wacky rabbids are probably the worst candidates for time travel, yet they did so with amusing results earlier this year in Raving Rabbids: Travel in Time on the Wii. Their new excursion on the 3DS goes by a similar title, but the Wii version offered an array of game types, whereas this version provides strictly platforming. You dress your rabbid up in goofy outfits and run, jump, and thwack your way through four time periods. The action is solid but not very exciting, and there isn't much of that silly rabbid charm to liven things up. Rabbids Travel in Time 3D delivers a decent amount of content, but it's a bland showing for these zany characters.
The game begins with a great-looking cutscene that depicts the rabbids mucking it up in a museum. Their casual disregard for decorum and personal safety yields some cute moments, but alas, you don't see much more of these large, expressive character models. The majority of the game has the rabbids relegated to a much smaller size, limiting their ability to amuse. There are some funny bits here and there; meeting a new enemy (all your foes are costumed rabbids) results in some slapstick humor, and the animation for a rabbid's idea of ducking (that is, flopping down flat on its back) is likely to make you grin. But regrettably, these wee rabbids aren't given many opportunities to entertain, and as a result, the game feels disappointingly mild. Other Rabbids games give the eponymous lagomorphs much more comical clout, and it's a shame they aren't as funny this time around.
When your time-traveling washing machine drops you off in prehistory, it's time to learn the basics. You move your rabbid with the circle pad or the D pad. The face buttons let you jump, thwack, or pick things up, and the R button allows you to break into a sprint. With these humble abilities, you leap over pits, ride floating platforms, break down barriers, vanquish enemies, and generally do the kind of things you'd expect in this type of game. The controls work well, and though you can run into some directional wonkiness when springing into the air off of bouncy platforms, it's usually easy to get where you want to go. There is a very gentle learning curve that reinforces the basic mechanics over and over again, so even inexperienced players have plenty of time to get the hang of things. The difficulty slowly ramps up throughout the game, but it never gets too tough, so challenge seekers are advised to look elsewhere.
From the realm of prehistory through ancient civilizations and onto the Middle Ages, your journey takes you through four worlds of about 15 levels each. Lush jungle greenery gives way to stonework structures as the vibrant backgrounds change to fit your era. The environmental design has a nice cartoonish look, and in addition to the inoffensive depth-of-field effect, there are a few uneven attempts to take advantage of the system's 3D capabilities. Light streaming in through stained-glass cathedral windows works quite nicely, for example, though a scarab beetle alighting on the screen for a moment feels too gimmicky to impress.
There are also some unlockable figurines that can be viewed in 3D, as well as costumes you can use to dress your rabbid. Mixing and matching hats and shirts to make strange combinations has some appeal, though younger folks are more likely to get enjoyment out of these little bonuses. Earning these extras requires you to collect as many rubber ducks (a rabbid's version of coins) as you can during each level. Grabbing this inflatable currency during levels can require some tricky maneuvering, and simply raking in as many as possible is inherently satisfying. If you collect enough, you can unlock bonus levels that are timed challenges devoted solely to gathering duckies. You also have to keep an eye out for energy spheres that unlock modified versions of levels, which ostensibly have an odd historical twist. They play out like the other levels, for the most part, but if you don't pay close attention to which levels these energy spheres are available on, you may find yourself near the end of the game without enough spheres to unlock further levels. There is no clear indicator of which levels you must revisit to find these spheres (there are 11 in total). This makes for a frustrating finish in which you feel denied the satisfaction of completion.
Fortunately, this is one of the only frustrations provided by Rabbids Travel in Time 3D. Most of the game is a breezy platforming romp through history, fueled by the simple satisfaction of clearing levels and collecting rubber ducks. The lack of challenge and lukewarm humor limit this game's appeal, but it's well suited for young or inexperienced players looking for a fun 3DS game.