Release Date: September 26
Platforms available on: Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, PC
Price: 1,200 Microsoft Points / £9.99 / $14.99
Developer: Arkedo Studio
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is unlike anything out right now; it's insane, colourfully violent and uses green buttocks as bouncy jump pads. Published by Sega, it's great to see indie developer Arkedo Studio given the freedom to try something more ambitious after the solid DS shooter Big Bang Mini and their Arkedo Series on Xbox Live Indie Games, but unfortunately the core game is not always fun to play.
Hell Yeah!'s protagonist is a rabbit, the Prince of Hell, hellbent on revenge. When paparazzi pictures surface on the internet of him in the bath naked, Ash swears to rip apart all 100 monsters who viewed the snaps.
It's a ridiculous yet funny premise, though it's a shame the rest of the humour is very hit-or-miss and fails to live up to the initial promise. At its rare best, a monster's gleeful mocking can raise a smile, but there are also eye-rolling moments when it feels like the dialogue is trying too hard to impress.
For the majority of the game, Ash will have two types of weapons at his disposal - a deadly-sharp circular saw that also doubles as a jetpack of sorts (allowing Ash to reach greater heights) and his arsenal of projectile weapons ranging from rockets to a meaty shotgun. Projectiles are fired with the right analog stick, similar to twin-stick shooters, while new weapons and upgrades can be bought from a shop.
Different monsters will naturally have different weaknesses, requiring a little bit of thought as to how you're going to attack them. Some of the confrontations more closely resemble puzzles, which refreshingly breaks up the all-out sawing and gunning. An enemy invulnerable to bullets may be taken down by triggering mines on the ground or squashed with a large and heavy chunk of rock from above.
After whittling the monster down to no health, to kill it you must complete a WarioWare-esque microgame. Most are simple quick-time events or demand you to mash a face button repeatedly, but it's the over-the-top and crazy style of these finishing moves that make them a joy to watch at first.
A lot of them reference classic video games, with outright nods to Mortal Kombat, Castlevania, Super Mario and Guitar Hero included. One finisher even sees Ash flying across on a broomstick, reminiscent of Kamek in Yoshi's Island, sprinkling magic dust over the monster.
A failure to complete the microgame, though, results in the enemy regaining a portion of its health, which can get annoying if one proves to be tricky. Finishing moves also repeat themselves pretty quickly, and the repetition soon turns them into a chore.
Over the course of the story, Ash will find himself in several themed zones. Though it starts off in a predictably fiery area with plenty of red hues, you will end up killing enemies in a nightclub, museum and even space. The different zones all look distinct and rather good.
The main problem with the visuals, though, is that it's sometimes hard to tell what is going on. Spikes and mines, for instance, struggle to stand out from the backdrops, meaning unintentionally running into them can be problematic. The game seems aware of this and awkwardly highlights them with circles, but it's far from a perfect solution.
In addition, checkpoints keep track of how much health you had at that point rather than restoring all of your life, so there may be times when you find yourself in a precarious situation with little-to-no health and must backtrack all the way back to the nearest health station.
The campaign lasts a fair while, between eight and ten hours for most, but there are a couple of small extras to prolong the experience. Most notably, players can take on bite-sized and inconsequential 'missions' with basic objectives such as killing a certain number of bugs or performing tricks with your jetpack within a tight time limit.
A couple of these are rather unclear and rely on trial-and-error, however. A race to a finish can prove to be more frustrating than it needs to be, as some missions don't indicate where to go and prevent you from loading up the map.
Then there is 'The Island', a haven where deceased enemies end up. You are free to assign them slave duties for your benefit, like make them mine for items, but it's tedious to manage (navigation is slow and clunky) with no significant impact on the main adventure. You can also easily complete the story without worrying about any of this.
Hell Yeah! certainly stands out enough to be very memorable, but it's also wildly inconsistent. The game starts off strong and there are chunks of fun to be had across the campaign, yet some noteworthy annoyances - including lengthy load times - prevent it from gathering momentum and delivering an all-around satisfying and enjoyable platformer. The potential is clearly there, but not quite fulfilled.