One of the more interesting games available at the Nintendo DS launch was a nifty little minigame collection called Feel the Magic: XY/XX. The game took basic, single-action minigames that wouldn't seem terribly out of place in a WarioWare game and wrapped a crazy love story around them, which made the simple games more interesting. That same basic formula is what drives the game's sequel, The Rub Rabbits. You'll get a decent array of minigames and an interesting, stylish story. Unfortunately, the quality of the minigames is generally low. You'll want to trudge through them once to watch the unique story unfold, but the game is filled with too many "I never want to do that again" moments to offer much replay value.
The game's story mode opens with you--a strapping young lad--getting a glimpse of a beautiful female who is going in the opposite direction on an escalator. Not willing to let her go, your first task is to scurry back up the escalator to get to her by rubbing the touch screen with upward strokes. But you aren't alone in this challenge; other men are hot on her trail. But wait, there's more! A chance encounter with another girl gets her hooked on you the same way you're hooked on the first girl! So you're chasing after a girl to win her affection while another girl is trying to get girl #1 out of the picture so she can have you all to herself.
The story mode stretches out to more than 35 minigames, though a few of the later games are merely repeats of earlier ones. The minigames are all meant to portray simple, singular tasks. You'll test your memory by watching your girlfriend poke you in specific spots, then poke her right back the exact same way. In another you'll toss your girlfriend up into the air with an upward stroke, she'll grab a bunch of fruit, and then you must catch her by positioning yourself under her with the stylus. A few games also use the microphone, asking you to blow into it to breathe fire at robots and such. If you're dedicated to getting through it, it won't take you more than an hour or two to do so. Most of the games are quite easy, though the more difficult ones are frustratingly tough and are usually caused by some troublesome control mechanic. These random difficulty changes can be a little annoying.
Beyond the story mode, you can also go back and play any of the minigames you've already played to earn more hearts. Hearts are the game's currency for unlocking objects, and you'll unlock items for "maniac dress-up" as you earn more of them. The dress-up option lets you dress your girl in various clothes, but in the static story screens, and in many of the game's other sequences, she'll still be wearing the default outfit, so it's not implemented very well. Games that focus on time can be unlocked for use in a time attack mode, also. Hullabaloo is a separate multiplayer game where you pass the DS from one player to the next, and each player must hold down specific buttons. It's like a crazy relay race with a game of Twister thrown in. Two players holding one DS can create a baby...using the game, of course. Both players answer a brief questionnaire, and then they must execute the cooperative task of cutting a cake to create the baby--just like in real life! You can transfer babies around to other players using the game's wireless functions. You can also play some of the games with up to three other players wirelessly, using only one copy of the game as a host. The multiplayer option adds more value to the proceedings, as those games are a little more interesting than the standard minigames, though there are only six of them to choose from.
Even if the game isn't always fun to play, at least it's interesting to look at. Most of the characters are merely black cutouts, with some occasional clothing, hair, or accessories to make them stand out. There's no real speech in the story, but the animation in the game does a great job of miming the storyline, so it's rarely confusing. The sound in the game is a little basic. The music is repetitive, and there are only a few different murmurs or other vocal effects, as well as a few different speech clips, such as "break time" or "rub it!"
All in all, The Rub Rabbits is a classic case of style over substance. While the game has a cool look to it, the gameplay just gets in the way. If you're a fan of the original, this one offers more of the same, but as a sequel, rather than as an original product, it's not nearly as interesting the second time around.