Have you ever tickled your Nintendo DS? Or rubbed it, caressed it, and gently—or aggressively—blown into its mic? The Rub Rabbits!, the sequel to the Japanese dating game Feel The Magic, casts you as a guy who chases the girl of his dreams while fighting off a dozen rivals and the evil genius who harbored a childhood crush on you. The story moves with Mentos-ad vigor as the featureless but stylishly dressed characters run around, escaping one scrape in order to get into another. Your goal is to win the girl, but to charm her, you have to charm the DS: you control the whole game with just the stylus and touch screen, and the microphone.
Rub Rabbits works best when it sticks to silly teen romance—like an activity where you tap leaves onto your girlfriend to weave her a bizarre foliage summer dress, or the one where you poke each other in the shoulder and forehead, then clutch yourselves, giggling. The courtship is only mildly risqué, although the sequence where you shove a rose in her face while she's doing yoga stretches on all fours has creepy "smell the glove" overtones. Unfortunately, the bulk of the mini-games in Rub Rabbits are neither cute nor fun: most of them feature tedious dodging, shooting, or memory exercises that manage to be both easy and frustrating.
Beyond the game: If you have a real-life girlfriend or boyfriend, try "Baby Making." You don't even have to be good with your stylus: You and your partner enter your vital stats, including your birthdays and (because it's Japanese) your blood types, and Rub Rabbits rates your compatibility. To collect your baby, you also have to cut a wedding cake together—just as a friendly warning to the future single parents in the audience.
Worth playing for: The chirpy music and stylish looks, the sweet mid-game "Break Time" animations, and the frequent shouts of "RABBITS!" make the game seem far more fun than it is.
Frustration sets in when: Each mini-game forces you through five levels, each one slightly harder and slightly more irritating than the last.
Final judgment: True love takes more than moony-eyed flirting; Sega needs to get the mechanics right to make the magic happen.