Rabi-Ribi is a Bullet-hell platformer developed by both CreSpirit and GemaYue and published by Circle Entertainment, a company most known for its localisations of various smaller titles around the world. Originally launching back in 2016 on PC followed by the Vita and PS4 in 2017 from our friends at PQube games, it’s finally made its way to the Nintendo Switch – which is the version I’m looking at today.
Although not knowing too much about the game before I jumped in, Just looking at the screenshots and reading the synopsis had me excited to try out this quirky title!
Rabi-Ribi follows the story of Erina, a bunny who was suddenly transformed into a human with cute rabbit features, who wakes up lost and confused in an unknown underground building. As Erina tries to figure out what happened to her and where she is, she climbs up some levels of the building and finally finds herself outside where the surroundings are estranged to her. Her first worry is to find her master, but she has no idea where they could be. During the prologue of the game, Erina befriends an adorable little fairy named Ribbon, who from then on will help Erina along her journey.
They are both magically transported to Rabi Rabi town where Erina finally finds her Master Rumi. Rumi sends Erina and Ribbon on quests to find other helpful companions, specific items, upgrades and more, and hopefully along the adventure Erina will find a way to return to her normal life.
With the above stated, that is generally the synopsis of the game and what it’s about. A tried and true cliché of a ‘help the hero’ story, but unlike others, Rabi Ribi is hard to follow. Reading the story, it’s not easy to figure out what’s going on or why, and from what I read it’s not an uncommon complaint. They tried to explain the story, as it’s got A LOT of cutscenes and conversations, but it comes off as convoluted.
More often than not I was ready to skip the story just to get to the actual gameplay, rather than dealing with its weakest link, the storyline.
Rabi-Ribi is a mixture of the Metroidvania, Bullet-hell, and Shmup genres, and it all works beautifully. Metroidvania-style games are usually notorious for their difficulty, which this game is no stranger to the further you get, but it tries to be beginner-friendly with its four difficulty options and an optional respawn buff (Halo Buff/Halo Boost) that’ll upgrade stats for a period of time. With Erina, you’ll be working your way through nine different areas with twenty sub-areas to explore as well! Notably, Metroidvanias are known for tough end-level bosses whereas Rabi Ribi mixes it up and litters them throughout the whole game.
You’ll constantly be up against a barrage of more than forty different bosses throughout the game with hundreds, if not thousands, of attack patterns to learn. Easy-ish to play and defeat, hell to master for the experts. The reason being is that this game can variably be picked up and played by anyone, but for completionists and perfectionists it is no easy task. With ranking systems for your bosses, 187 achievements, 27 towns members to find, 32 badges to earn, more than 60 well-hidden items and upgrades, speed runs, and boss rushes!
A rewarding feature to Rabi-Ribi is the varieties of techniques and weapons filling your arsenal. You find new techniques, accessories, weapons, and more through Rabi Rabi Island which constantly upgrade through use and experience. This, in turn, allows more damage, weapon radius, combos, and more, which not only affect enemies but the environment as well whilst you explore! The game has well placed save points, easing the stress of Metroidvania exploration, along with teleportation orbs that makes moving between maps a breeze.
However, before you get ahead of yourself with the ‘easing the stress’ remark, remember what the genre is... Rabi-Ribi still has 64 different debuffs and buffs, badge equipment customization which changes your gameplay, items and accessories to master, and an assortment of combos to learn, and more. You may have read ‘and more’ a lot, and that’s the beauty with Rabi-Ribi, the never-ending amount of content they crammed into this game!
Now that you know the gameplay, it begets the question, does it execute as well as it sounds? Yes, yes, and more yes. The most complicated feature of Rabi-Ribi would be the Boss Battles with their Bullet-hell and Shmup attacks. For a platformer, it may sound awkward to be dodging a vast barrage of projectiles, but it works perfectly. Not once did it feel unfair; the hitboxes were flawless, the frame rates never dropped, the assorted rainbows of colours, and the variety was beautiful with homing, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, bullets, beams, lasers, bombs! Polished is the only word that suits the execution of boss battles here.
The jumping, attacking, and combo’s in Rabi-Ribi are all very responsive. The jumps are fluid and there is little to no delay, making it feel like you’re in complete control. If there was a ‘nitpick’ I had with Rabi-Ribi, it’d be that I’d wish there was a combo cancel. With the amount of action, projectiles, movement, and everything that goes on, you’re a sitting duck when you execute a full combo and need to wait for it to end.
Map exploration is another strong feature of Rabi-Ribi with how vast it is compared to prior smaller Metroidvanias I’ve played. Instead of simply shifting screens by going left to right, in Rabi-Ribi you can go left, right, and even blow through obstacles to go up or down. Not to mention you can climb the walls to go over, utilise the water to go under, and sometimes discover hidden passages – if you can jump there, you can surely explore it in this game!
Being such an extensive explorative game with so many areas, it can feel overwhelming to newcomers but the more you play, the more you adapt to the size and depth on offer.
Rabi-Ribi may suffer from a convoluted storyline, but this can be overlooked due to its lively energy and exciting gameplay. I’m a strong believer in the whole ‘bang for your buck’ mentality, Rabi-Ribi is $29.99 and easily comes packed with more content than some AAA titles costing twice as much. It simply has tons of content, lots of replay value, and it’s super addictive – even at full price, it’s a steal. I can’t recommend this title enough, and with the amount of content and gameplay, it’s a must for not only Metroidvania addicts but anyone who owns a Switch, PS4, PS Vita or PC. This certainly is a ‘must-try and buy’ Switch title.