Rabi-Ribi, a new game published by Sekai Project and developed by CreSpirit, follows the story of a bunny turned bunny girl named Erina and her fairy sidekick, Ribbon. In short, it's about Erina (who was but a wee bunny in the events before the game begins) trying to get home to her master (who she literally refers to as "Master"). In trying to get from point "A" to point "B", she finds herself in a sort of metroidvania fantasyland where things aren't always as they seem, moments can border on the slightly risqué, and the folks are a bit, well, bunny crazy.
While vulnerable and weak at the game's onset, Erina is soon equipped with an oversized mallet of sorts because, well, why not? With combo-making hammer in hand, she can become quite capable of protecting herself. Add onto that the ranged firepower of Ribbon and players are soon onto something pretty good. As the game progresses, the game's protagonists gain new abilities that sync rather well with each other such as carrot-bombs, aerial attacks, double- and wall-jumps, and so on. Seeking out ability-granting/upgrading accessories turns out to be a fairly good chunk of how players are likely to spend their time, but that's okay because the journey is actually pretty entertaining and prove as a nice way for players to explore Rabi-Ribi's generously-sized map.
Over time, Erina and Ribbon have abilities at their disposal for nearly any situation the game throws at them. That's not to say that things get unbalanced in the favor of the player, however. While standard enemies can be rather pathetic, many of the game's boss battles can be quite the challenge (thank goodness for save points and healing items). Adding to the mix the industry-standard metroidvania gameplay including platforming and scrums with enemies, CreSpirit threw in bullet-hell mechanics -- something players are more likely to find in a top-down shooter such as Sine Mora or Raiden -- and, surprisingly, it works great. During these segments, bullets and lasers inundate the screen and are survivable only if players can figure out their patterns. Early on this is a fairly simple task, though their complexity and, likewise, the difficulty increase and can prove to be quite the undertaking.
Once defeated, bosses tend to be some of the gratuitously cute girls that Erina eventually takes back to her home village. Once recruited, however, they don't join Erina and Ribbon as teammates per s. Rather, they'll act as a support staff by providing temporary buffs to the protagonists' stats, items, or even teleport the two to an otherwise difficult to access part of the map. Some of the girls are easier to find and recruit than others and, thanks to the game's semi-open world setup, it's not necessary to "catch 'em all" before the credits roll (though it helps).
For a game as small as Rabi-Ribi (it requires less than 1GB storage and is likewise very light on required resources) it's surprisingly large. There are ten main areas and each area is divided up into smaller sections with some even smaller sections within those to boot. The mini-map in the lower right corner of the screen is of little use, but pausing the game brings up a better and larger map along with each area's completion percentage. While it's not required to complete every map and get every item and upgrade for Erina and Ribbon, seeing one's progress in this manner sure adds some extra motivation to do so.
While cute, entertaining, and surprisingly mechanically sound, Rabi-Ribi misses perfection by a "hare" or two. Probably the largest culprit is the game's simplistic, yet muddled plot. Overall, translations and voicing are pretty good, but it's simply not that nice and cohesive story that people tend to prefer. Often times, the little things simply aren't explained, leaving players to shrug and just roll with it with little knowledge or caring as to why. There are also a few times when it's not entirely clear where Erina is supposed to venture towards next, though thankfully it's not a frequent occurrence. Rabi-Ribi also starts in windowed mode, preventing players from immediately enjoying a full-screen gaming experience. While this is easily fixed in the menus and a reboot of the game software, having this be the default is just backwards.
While the story is weak and there is a little bit of technical nit-picking to be had, the overall game is a blast. With maps loaded with secrets, enemies ranging from dancing mushrooms to bunny-crazed girls dressed up as bunnies to some rather challenging boss fights that keep players on their digital toes, Rabi-Ribi is hopping with content and loads of gameplay value that PC gamers should enjoy.
Final score: 8.5 out of 10