When I first saw Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit, I was skeptical. I really didn’t know what to expect, and couldn’t figure out how a psychotic hell bunny could produce a viable gaming experience. As usual, I was dead wrong.
Hell Yeah! comes to us from Arkedo Studio’s, a smaller developer who is used to making smaller games. However this time they having the backing of a major publisher, that being Sega. With a larger budget, you would think the game would be in full 3D, with large environments, and all the bells and whistles of a top notch AAA title. Arkedo decided to take a different approach, and one that actually worked. They took all that extra money and created so many different pieces of artwork for the game that they ended up with a gorgeous masterpiece, a true work of art.
Hell Yeah! is a tongue-in-cheek romp through the pits of hell. You play as Ash, the bunny Prince of Darkness, who was secretly photographed bathing with his stuffed animal by the paparazzi. Enraged, Ash sets out into the wastes of hell searching for the 100 monsters who have seen the photographs, and get the pictures back before more damage to his reputation is done. There is no voice acting in the game, it’s all a series of grunts and groans. However, it doesn’t detract from the experience at all. If you can read, you can play. The games humour is mature in nature, but nothing a 13 or 14 year old hasn’t heard before. While I enjoyed the jokes, the younger crowd will eat it up.
What I liked
The environments in Hell Yeah! are by far the most gorgeous and detailed of any 2D side scroller I have ever played. The screen is full of hand-drawn animated goodness everywhere, from flames spouting out, little sub-monsters roaming pathways, and water flowing over sections of the map. At first, the levels seemed almost overwhelming, but movement through the levels is pretty straightforward, and I never found myself lost in a map. What I really enjoyed were the fatalities. When you kill one of the 100 monsters, you’re faced with a mini-game to finish it off. This could be sneaking into a wasps nest and stealing honey, hammering on a button to squish a monsters head, or trying to catch corn cobs in a frying pan.
I also enjoyed the progression of the game. You never feel that defeating something is impossible, and end up throwing the controller in a fit of rage. Weapons range from a spinning sawblade jetpack, a missile launcher, and even a piece of poo with a chainsaw sticking out of it. New weapons are purchased at little stores available inside most levels, and your currency are the coins and jewels that are found scattered around. You can even buy cute little outfits for Ash.
What I didn’t like
There really wasn’t that much I could hate on with this game. You will find that the respawn system, while great in the fact that you never have to go far to get back to where you are, has one major flaw. When you respawn, you receive as much health as you died with. If you only had a quarter bar of health when that boss fried you, you’re going to be attempting the same feat with the same amount of health. Hopefully Arkedo will heed this and make a change, maybe even having the game default to 50% health upon respawn.
The other gripe I had was the “on-the-rails” ride. While you can teleport between worlds, and go back and access areas you couldn’t before, the game always tells you what to do. There is no discovery, or feel of control. Thankfully, it’s not a game-breaker, but sometimes I’d like to figure out what I’ve got to do next, and not be told where I need to go.
In conclusion, Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is a great side-scrolling romp that I had a hard time putting down. It’s art will draw you in, and it’s gameplay will keep you in your seat trying to get past that next monster. Want to grab a copy yourself? The game is available on PSN for $14.99 USD, XBox Live Arcade for 1200 MS Points, and on October 3 will be available on the PC for $14.99 USD.
For more information visit the Hell Yeah! website. XBLA review copy of Hell Yeah! provided by Sega.