Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit Review

by on October 3, 2012

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit ReviewGame: Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit

Publisher: SEGA

Developer: Arkedo Studios

Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Reviewed on: PlayStation 3

The life of a monarch is difficult, particularly if that monarch has been snapped by the paparazzi in compromising situations. This is the life of Prince of Hell, Ash. The dead rabbit has taken over from his deceased old man as the ruler of all things fire and brimstone, but an eagle eyed photographer caught Ash playing with with his favourite rubber ducky in the bath, and posted the pics on the Helternet. Ash’s menace has diminished with 100 monsters who have seen the private snaps and the big-eared skeleton’s only option is to track down and eliminate each and every one of them in this 2D platformer from Arkedo Studios.

From the get-go, one of Hell Yeah’s most striking features is how it looks. For a game with “Hell” in the title, this is laden with colour and vibrancy throughout. The entire roster of monsters whom you must eliminate are wonderfully animated and have very unique looks. Each zone is beautifully diverse in comparison to the next and there are wonderful moments that will have you gawking at the TV in amazement like a child. The sound design is equally fantastic. From heavy metal boss music, to a stage that has one of the happiest songs you’ll ever hear, Hell Yeah’s soundtrack is both surprising and downright brilliant.

 Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit Review

But the gameplay is where this game lives and, subsequently, dies. Other than a few occasions in Hell Yeah!, you are equipped with an arsenal of weaponry, a jetpack and a saw which is omnipresent and which doubles as drill. As you progress through the game, you gain upgrades from your right-hand man (who is a monocle wearing octopus, named Nestor) and from shops that are placed within each level. Firstly, the jetpack is floaty and inconsistent. At times it will stick to surfaces and it will take some time to understand how it works. After you think you’ve nailed it, it will do something different and lead to your gory death. The same can be said about the drill. There are specific coloured walls which the player can bore through, sometimes to obtain in-game currency and other times just to progress. Unfortunately it’s wonky and can jerk to the left when you were thinking right. The guns themselves are all pretty well designed and regenerative ammo means the player needn’t worry about being trigger happy.  There is a lot of choice on offer here, from a shotgun to a laser all the way to a weapon that spits holy water.

As well as the main 100 monsters that players must hunt and kill, smaller enemies are plentiful in the game world. All of which are pretty simple to kill and don’t pose much of a threat, until later levels. Hell Yeah! breaks its own rules by allowing some of Ash’s adversaries to fly through walls and deal damage to the rabbit from off-screen, when the player can only attack once the baddies are in view. There is a feature that allows players to zoom out with a button press, but it also pauses the action, only allowing for a brief moment of respite or strategy. The camera is painfully close, meaning Ash is nearly always at risk of getting hurt, while the enemies are laughing in their safe haven off-screen.

 Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit Review

A few levels force you to remove your gadgets and the game becomes a straight up platformer. The only problem is that Hell Yeah! is a sub-standard platform game. Ash’s jump remains the same regardless of button pressure and there is a wall jump in the game that is erratic to say the least. One plus side however, is how the player deals with monsters in these sections. Rather than showering them with bullets or drilling their face in, players must use certain parts of the environment or solve puzzles and to lure enemies to their death. This makes for a decent change from the rest of the game; as do the sections where you control vehicles for a limited time.

Checkpoints are spread quite liberally in the world, but their placement is (again) annoying. As smaller enemies don’t pose much of a problem, it is the instant-death spikes, or green gunge that is found on levels that will have you tearing your hair out. Not necessarily because you instantly die, but because checkpoints can occur just before some un-skippable dialogue, or an area where collectibles are scattered, resulting in you having to collect them over and over again.

Hell Yeah! is brash in its humour and unforgiving in its execution, which I admire. However, it doesn’t always equal greatness. Actually, for the most part, Ash’s dialogue won’t cause you to crack a smile whatsoever. It has its moments and some of them are in how referential it is to other video games; Mortal Kombat and Sonic to name a few. This can also be said of the mini-games that take place once the player has depleted an enemy’s health down to zero. After you kill one of the main monsters in the game, a WarioWare styled 5 second QTE will take place. At first, these are humorous little things that aren’t intrusive and will draw a smile from the player for how ludicrous they are. But, once you’ve seen an 8-bit leviathan devour the bad guy for the third time, it all becomes a hindrance that feels like it is sucking your time away.

 Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit Review

Once you kill your tenth monster you open up an area called The Island, and this is where your foes arrive once you have eradicated them from Hell. Here, you can send the fallen beasts to certain parts of the island to (for example) mine for money, or get some extra health for the Prince. Basically, they are at your beck and call and any gifts they uncover will then be accessible to the skeletal rabbit in the main game. The problem with The Island is that it is instantly forgettable. The player can’t access the mode from within the main game and is forced to head back to the the main menu before setting sail to the coastal paradise. Also, any prizes that the monsters uncover must be collected from The Island, before they are accessible in-game. It’s awkward, the findings aren’t all that great and it all seems like a wasted opportunity. In particular, only 80 monsters can be set to work at any one time, whilst there are 100 in the entire game.

VERDICT: Repetitive jokes, frustrating controls and annoying checkpoints are all things that sum up the experience of Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit. Some interesting ideas are utilised in the sections where the player is without their arsenal of guns, the music is pure bliss, and aesthetically it encompasses every colour known to man. Yet the potential is never realised and the Prince of Hell is left lying in the wake of much more polished efforts in the genre.

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