Every once in a while, a game comes along that defies description. Developer Arkedo and Sega have delivered on that anomaly with their latest downloadable title, Hell Yeah! The Wrath of the Dead Rabbit. This unorthodox platformer takes the genre and flips it upside down. The pieces may be in place for a standard affair, but the execution simply leaves you scratching your head with a definitive ‘WTF’ look on your face. Hell Yeah! is a complex creature that can only be understood once you play it. Thankfully, once you do it is nigh impossible to stop.
You play as the Prince of Hell, who also happens to be a rabbit. That should really set the tone for this game. You apparently have an obsession with ducks, and the Hell Paparazzi has obtained lewd photos of you with said ducks. This is your incentive to venture out into hell to eliminate 100 different monsters and, of course, retrieve the photos. Whoever thought of all that is some kind of sick genius. The dialogue is hilarious at times, with plenty of fourth wall smashing. It is also highly referential to other games with plenty of tasteful jabs at fellow interactive adventures. My only complaint is that the game refrains from using voice actors, as I imagine they would have been hilarious.
If that previous paragraph wasn’t enough to convince you just how peculiar this game is, then explaining the gameplay just might. You start the game off as a traditional platformer. You can walk left-to-right and jump. It’s pretty standard stuff… until you get your circular saw of doom… which also doubles as a jetpack. You can hold down the right trigger to drill through objects and enemies, leaving their innards splashed across the virtual canvas. Oh yeah, forgot to mention the game is gory and unrelenting. Destroying enemies is complemented with plenty of giblets and red goo.
You are given new tips and abilities from your trusty, monocle-wearing, sidekick octopus. He teaches you how to use the map and eventually upgrades your saw blade to genocidal proportions. You can also use money you earn to upgrade weapons and buy new hats and skins for your saw. Nothing says wanton destruction like a rubber duck inner tube saw blade. Eventually, you will also obtain firearms that give the game a twin-stick shooter feel. You will get a gatling gun, missiles, grenades and plenty more to slice through enemies. There is also a hint of Metroidvania tossed in, with areas showcasing percentage explored, and areas you cannot access until you get more items and upgrades.
As I mentioned earlier, the sole purpose for your exploits is to kill 100 monsters and obtain those revealing photos. The cool thing about these monsters is that each one serves as a mini-boss that needs to be killed a specific way. Each one only lasts about 20 seconds outside of the main bosses, and each one has their own unique “fatality” sequence. When you defeat an enemy you are presented with a Wario Ware-type mini-game where you have to do things like mash a button, time a button press or even answer a trivia question in order to finish them off. The ensuing carnage is often hilarious as you will send swarms of bees, shoot them down Galaga style or even blow up the world to kill them.
Once you defeat a monster, they are not forgotten. Hell Yeah! implements a unique way of generating extra money and items. All of your defeated enemies are shipped off to a place called ‘The Island’. Here, they can be divided up and forced to work in various ways to earn you cash and new items. To be fair, most of the stuff they provide is negligible, but it is a cool way to keep track of the enemies you have defeated throughout the game.
All of these things combine to make Hell Yeah! a unique experience that constantly has you changing up your play style. It keeps the game fresh, but it doesn’t come without a cost. The mini-games for boss encounters are sometimes obtuse and hard to quickly grasp. This wouldn’t be an issue, but if the timer runs out, or you fail, the boss regenerates some health and you have to do it again. Also, the numerous play styles result in awkward objectives at times. I sat stuck in one level for an hour, because I couldn’t clearly see where I needed to go, or what I needed to do next. It is small issues like this that hold the game back from being superb.
One of the most notable things about Hell Yeah! is it’s style. The visuals simply pop off the screen and the animation is top-notch. The exaggerated kills simply litter the environments with primary colors, and each area has a unique theme and feel. I love the visual style the game portrays, and the frame rate definitely holds its own most of the time. The music is equally impressive, sporting an eclectic mix of tracks. The loading screens feature somber elevator tones while the music on The Island blasts the tropical vibe. Plenty of rock and hip-hop mixtures round out the soundtrack and all are entertaining and fitting.
Hell Yeah! is a unique game that really kind of defies description. There is a demo, and I suggest everyone give it a whirl to see if it grows on you. Personally, I loved the simplistic action and outrageous content the game delivers. Sure, some of it gets derivative after a while, and the mini-games can be annoying when you fail, but the charm of the experience helps balance the frustration. If you have even a remote sense of twisted humor, I highly recommend checking out this game. It is definitely the best rabbit, saw blade killing, monster slaying simulation currently available.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.