A review copy on the Xbox 360 was provided for the purposes of this review.

There’s a lot in a name.  When you look at Hell Yeah! Wrath Of The Dead Rabbit purely by title, you don’t expect a slow, methodical game that takes itself seriously, do you? Thankfully, it certainly delivers the atmosphere you would expect with a frenetic, wacky style, a wisecracking main character and a varied interpretation of Hell.

Style is definitely the name of the game, here, as you are escorted through the depths of Hell with Prince Ash, the current ruler, who is basically a skeletal rabbit who has a penchant for duckies. Someone published photos of him with his ducky in the bath, and now he’s on a mission to find these photos and kill all the monsters who have seen them. 100 views on Hell-internet? 100 monsters to kill.

The gameplay style could be loosely classed as a MetroidVania type feel, except with a lot less being lost and blindly exploring than that description suggests. There’s definitely an element of discovery, but there is a well equipped map and radar system which will guide you towards your next door or enemy. It’s obviously a matter of taste, but I prefer it this way.

An effort is made to mix it up, with your modes of transport ranging from just your bare bunny self to a drilling wheel of destruction kitted out with a suite of weapons, to submarines and rockets. Each one feels slightly different, providing a new method of monster disposal.

Each death of the 100 monsters you are tasked with removing is punctuated expertly by a Warioware-like minigame which you must complete to initiate a creative, untimely death for these creatures. There is great variety in the ways that Ash disposes of his foes which will at the very least put a wry smile on your face, and at their best have you laughing out loud. That’s not to say they’ll be to to everyone’s tastes, because they can be puerile and immature, but sometimes that really hits the spot (or bursts the spot, as happens on occasion). However, near the end these animations lose steam and start to just get recycled, which is disappointing.

Along with the variety in the culling animatic of the various cool, immature and awesome monsters, your methods of getting to that stage change, too. One form of Ash has no weapons, which turns dispatching enemies into a puzzle, some of which are a bit more obtuse than others, requiring you to manipulate the game’s ‘unzoom’ button, which freezes the action and pulls the camera back. This makes drops a lot less blind, which can be vital in surviving when working your way back down a chasm.

When you do have weapons, though, you will feel like the choice is yours. In vehicles, you tend to have horizontal missiles and vertical bombs, so your approach may depend on the shape of the environment, which switches from claustrophobic to spacious depending on scenery. You get a wide array of weapons for your wheel, like shotguns, lasers and a gatling gun, so which is most effective for you is up to you alone. It’s worth experimenting with your arsenal, as they are almost all satisfying, with over the top blood splatter and bullets to dodge as you shoot down a foe. You get ‘unlimited’ ammo, but the guns overheat, effectively acting as reload time, usually based on damage output.

The environment goes through most of the stages you’d expect a videogame to go to, but perhaps not some of the places you’d usually call hell. We start in a more traditional fire and brimstone kind of area, but swiftly move into a casino, a nightclub and the ‘cute zone’, a pastiche of Green Hill Zone from the original Sonic game, complete with flowers and brightness, all of which turns Ash’s stomach, of course.

There is also a side-game on offer by way of The Island, basically a prison island where you sent your vanquished foes to work for you in various areas, to farm life upgrades, new items, money and some surprises. Sadly, this idea is very understated. So understated, in fact, that it doesn’t really seem to affect anything, and I start to wonder what it’s doing here. I get the feeling something much grander was planned to be in its place.

This is not the only blight on the overall product. Put simply, Arkedo put all of their cards on the table a little too quickly. While you still get new weapons near the end of the game, all of the creativity in deaths has pretty much been done already, and watching the same animations again, while still mirthful, is a little irritating. There’s also some checkpointing issues, whereby the game only checkpoints when you kill an enemy or heal at a blood fountain full of busty nurse angels, and you can end up going a decent distance to get back to the citizen of hell you failed to get to.

If these niggles are something you can get past, though, a cartoony, homage-ridden old-fashioned fun type of videogame is waiting for you. Get to killing, already!

 



Author

Allan Davison
Allan Davison

A child of Sega, he studied Games Programming and is now just waiting for the right project. He collects Sega Saturn and plays most consoles you could name. His particular interests are in fighting games, being part of the local community, as well as Puzzle, Racing, Platformers, Shmups and (gasp) Sports.