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Hell Yeah! Wrath Of The Dead Rabbit (XBLA) Review

Game Review: Hell Yea! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
Release:  September 26, 2012
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Arkedo
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PSN (Steam & PC October 3rd, 2012)
Players: 1 Player
MSRP: 1200 MSP/$15
ESRB Rating: T for Teen 
Website: Hell Yea! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit

If you’ve been a gamer for as long as I have, you’ve been privy to dozens of would-be platform characters that are little more than personified attitudes, Hell Yea! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit takes a different route. Rather than having more “tude” than other mascots, Hell Yea! chooses to give the titular character the most basic of personalities but focuses most of its efforts on fleshing out the world of Hell Yea! Arkedo looks like it put a lot of effort into polishing the game’s visuals and animations to better showcase the over-the-top special attacks you’ll be performing and the game’s wide variety of level environments. This focus can be seen all throughout the hours you’ll put in with this saccharine sweet, but gory, platformer. Unfortunately, that focus seems like it left very little time into making sure the game was fun to play as well as look at.

In Hell Yea! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit, you play the Prince of Hell, who has had a breach in security at his castle that has allowed some devilish paparazzi to take some photos of him in a very compromising position. From that point on, you’re tasked with tracking down the pictures and the 100 monsters that have viewed the prince cuddling his adorable rubber ducky. This is all conveyed through comic book panel style cut scenes that are sprinkled with some humor but are mostly used to move the game forward as quickly as possible. The real fun is in the background of the levels, which are absolutely filled with throwbacks to other games and cool little ideas like the Prince using blood founts, instead of the usual cutesy items to rejuvenate his health. The several monsters and bosses are uniquely designed for the most part, and have varied attacks and weaknesses that continue to challenge throughout the game’s levels.

Each man monster has a specific type of attack that you’ll use environmental puzzles or brute force to defeat.  Once defeated, these monsters head over to your little island palace and/or torture fortress. You’ll then be able to assign them tasks that are meant to help you along your adventure and as well as punish them if they’re being a bit too insolent for your liking.  This, along with the purchases made in the game’s store will have you outfitting your Prince to better suit him to your style of play. There were quite a few times when tweaking my set up meant the difference between an endless loop of respawns and finally defeating some of the game’s more peskier enemies.

Playing through Hell Yea! had me “jonsing” for the days of yore that had me playing up until late at night trying my best to beat whatever level I was stuck on while playing Sonic or Mario. It also reminded me the huge amount of controllers that I’d toss/bite/or twist in frustration. This difficulty is the bread and butter of the platformer genre, and Hell Yea! most definitely keeps this lineage in tact as the game will sometimes ask for perfection as you make your way through some of the more chaotic levels. The reward for keeping up with the game’s challenge are simple mini-games that usually yield crazy, and sometimes funny, attacks that devastate the monsters that you’re up against.

But is the sum of all this fun? Playing through the game, I found myself repeatedly asking myself the question. I began thinking on exactly what kept my attention with any platformer, and I really had no answer. Hell Yea! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit succeeds in setting itself apart through an art style that is fun to look at but has very little else to keep your attention past the few hours with the game. Upgrading your arsenal and managing your captured monsters properly does help with completing objectives, but they’re not a necessity when completing the game. The story is cute at first but it can quickly get grating as many of the jokes either seem forced or a bit too child-like in delivery.

For the platform purist out there, there seems to be a good amount of challenge and fun to be had with the game, but it’s up to you to figure out whether the challenge of float-y controlling rabbit in a buzz saw gyroscope is worth the 1200 MSP/$15 barrier to entry. At the very least, check out the demo that is up on XBLA when you have a chance.

+Lush environments that honor past platformers
+Over-the-top attacks
-Shtick eventually wears out its welcome
-Gameplay gets repetitive

Final Score: 7 out of 10

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