Every once in a while, the gaming world throws up a work of imagination so bizarre that you can’t help but admire it. There have been many down the years, from Sega’s talking fishathon Seaman and the PSOne’s Parappa the Rapper, to the planet-gobbling destruction of Beautiful Katamari. Games that make you go WTF?
Arkedo Studio seem to be the latest developer dipping their heads in the spiked kool-aid with their latest offering, Hell Yeah: Wrath of the Dead Rabbit, which combines action-adventure platforming with juvenile humour and lashings of destructive violence. And of course, the titular rabbit.
Luscious hand-drawn sprites create all sorts of chaos as you fight through the devil’s lair, the ultimate aim being to inflict vengeance upon your arch enemy Fat Rabbit, who has apparently leaked juicy photos of you and your rubber duck doing unspeakable things over the Hades intranet.
It’s actually strangely cute representation of hell, with vibrant colours, amusing happenings and no short supply of jokes. I thought it was supposed to be a dour place, wracked with pain, suffering, and repentance, rather than a cuddly, fun-filled place to while the hours away, but that just goes to show what I know.
Gameplay itself is fairly simple, and soon after the short introduction you’ll be circular-sawing your way through enemies, shopping for holy water cannons and probably indulging in one of more than thirty bizarre mini-games in order to execute ever-more unlikely death moves.
Having put a lot of work into the presentation, Hell Yeah! looks and sounds superb, but occasionally feels a little imprecise, the controls perhaps struggling under the weight of the game’s crazy ideas. The jumping is dicey, often requiring multiple attempts to conquer a simple situation, the enemies don’t fight fair, and the humour is inconsistent, following the odd superb line with gags rejected by a charity joke book.
It’s curiously like the ‘crazy’ office guy from the old Fast Show sketch, who paints his appendage with fluorescent paint and turns out the lights at the Christmas party – funny and daring once, but the more the joke repeats, the laughter turns to pity and tragedy. Hell Yeah! doesn’t go quite this far, but it treads a fine line in large shoes.
The game doesn’t go quite far enough in divorcing itself from the realities of its chosen genre, failing to vary its established mechanics from the tried-and-tested. Here, for example, the age-old ‘Metroidvania’ trick of returning to previously-conquered areas with new abilities tested my patience rather than added longevity to the game.
An ever-increasing roster of diverse opponents does help maintain interest levels, and it’s a credit to Arkedo’s diligence that you enjoy killing the various cronies in such varied ways – well, varied from a visual perspective at least, in terms of what you’re doing on the pad most mainly involving button-mashing.
There’s enough in Hell Yeah! to make it worth your while playing, but perhaps not enough to make it truly essential.
By Sam Gill
Format: Xbox 360 (tested), PS3, PC (via online stores)
Developer: Arkedo Studio