A rabisco is a ‘scribble or doodle’ in Portuguese (thanks Google). It’s appropriate for this little game from Green Dinosaur Games, as it covers the art style – which looks like it’s been sketched into a journal – but also a premise that could have been jotted down on the back of a napkin. All Rabisco+ wants you to do is get from A to B. That’s it.
You are a rabbit-blob-thing in a top-down view, and your objective is to navigate a path to reach a moon symbol that represents the end of the level. For the first few levels, that’s literally all you do. It’s so easy in its first twenty or so levels, that we found ourselves re-calibrating the way we were going to review it: Rabisco+ must be designed for very young, pre-school players. It makes a certain kind of sense: Rabisco+ looks like it was scratched into an exercise book with some felt tips, so why shouldn’t it be aiming at a very under-served market, the pre-teens?
Except it’s not. At about the thirty minute mark, Rabisco suddenly spikes in difficulty, pushing it beyond pre-teens. It’s not hugely challenging – we’d put it at a solid 4 out of 10 on the Dark Souls-o-meter – but it’s clearly not made for children. It’s an oddly shallow difficulty curve, as if Rabisco+ wants to ensure that you’ve mastered its complex mechanics before it takes the training wheels off. But it’s about as complex as a backrub.
Perhaps it’s an achievement thing. You’ll be laden with 200G at this pivot point without breaking a sweat. But once you’ve completed the bemusing first twenty levels or so, mechanics start layering on. Levels stretch to a few different screens, rather than a single screen, and obstacles begin to drop into your path. Initially, there are spikes and Thwomp-like creatures that move back and forth, but they escalate to lasers, bubbling lava and revolving fire-wheels. At its most frantic, it can resemble a bullet-hell shooter.
To make these gauntlets possible, you’re given a dash move on the A button, which has a cooldown but it also lets you obliterate blocks. The simplicity of getting from A to B gets this single, added strategy: when do you use your rush attack? Do you use it to dodge an incoming laser, or do you save it for an upcoming wall of blocks? It at least offers something else to think about.
Outside of the obstacles, which – if we’re honest – you could find in countless other games, Rabisco+ does offer up some other ideas. Our favourites include purple safe-zones that move on a set path, which make you invincible as long as you manage to stay within their bounds. There are also levels that play out near-completely in the dark, but with lightbulbs that can be flipped on to see the path ahead, if only for a moment. Rabisco+’s best ideas come from chucking impossible situations at you, and then giving you a cool new toy for overcoming them.
There are 100 levels here, but you’ll be absolutely charging through them. As is customary with a Ratalaika game nowadays, you’ll be reaching 1000G at roughly 40% of the way through the game, which in a way is a shame: it’s about that point where Rabisco+ moves from tiresome to more enjoyable. The best ideas hit in the second half of the game, where Rabisco+ feels more confident that it can test you, and it commits to its target demographic, which is the more hardcore player who can handle a challenge.
Push past the 1000G, and Rabisco+ will be done in a maximum of a few hours. There’s an option to play through as a speed run, which slaps a clock on your screen but also creates a ghost of your previous run. Plus, there are collectibles to grab in the form of stars, which are often impossible to miss, as well as gems and paint pots, with the latter unlocking colour-changes for your rabbit-blob. We gave into the compulsion to collect all the goodies – mostly because they were dead easy to get, and they unlocked achievements – but the desire to speed run was never there. Rabisco+ isn’t difficult, and levels are often a puzzle to solve rather than a feat of speed, so solving them removes the challenge. It’s not ideally set up for speed-running as a result.
We didn’t not enjoy our time with Rabisco+, if you’ll excuse the double negative. It controls pretty well, with the precision that you need when margins for error get smaller and smaller. Obstacles and toys come at a decent rattle, as you won’t go more than a few levels without something new popping up. It’s also reasonably generous, with 100 levels for £4.99.
Our issue comes from the overall familiarity and lack of ambition. Don’t get us wrong: doing something familiar but doing it well can create a great experience. Just look at games like Tetris Effect: Connected, which revitalises a classic. Also, stripping things back to the basics, and doing it well, can hold a similar key to success. Games like SUPERHOT are minimalist but brilliant.
The problem with Rabisco+ is that it is both familiar and basic at the same time. It leaves Rabisco+ in the strange position of doing nothing particularly wrong, but leaving you bored as you play it. On some levels, Rabisco+ can feel like a twin-stick shooter without the shooting, and we started hankering for the extra adrenaline and strategy that comes from one. Other times, it feels like a pared-back platformer, but without the challenge or sense of exploration.
Ultimately, Rabisco+ feels like a tracing of other games, but without any of their colour. By trying to keep the controls to the absolute basics, it never feels challenging, varied or interesting enough. It’s neither enjoyable or unenjoyable – but we would have happily taken either, just so it could have stuck in the memory for more than five minutes.
You can buy Rabisco+ from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S