As I try to make clear in most of what I do, I love things that are weird, odd, unique, eccentric, or just plain old different. So when I see a game that looks to have a unique angle from it, with a studio whose previous Xbox Live Indie Games I enjoyed, it makes sense for me to schedule a review slot for it. But does this wild looking title shine through, or is it just a nice coat of paint that makes the titles sound even stupider? Let’s find out and also see if my quality of reasoning degrades under a deadline!
First, let me explain what I could gather about this game’s history. Arkedo was working for a publisher who was limiting their creativity and they wanted some creative freedom from their dull lives, and started work on an anarchic project that became Hell Yeah! And after they realized this anger filled project could be something people would buy, they went to Sega in order to help give them some guidance with their chaotic project. And since the staff was forced to make lots of cute things, they wanted the game to be centered about killing and enslaving them.
The game’s plot is fairly simple, you play as Ash, an undead rabbit who is the king of hell after he murdered his father. But Ash is also a “sexual deviant”, god it hurts to type those words, who likes ducks, and some swanky photos of him and his duck got leaked to the “hellternet” and he needs to kill the 100 demons who viewed them. It is fairly simple, and is centered more around the frame work for its style than normal storytelling. However the little bits of dialog all seem to fall flat.
You are an angry cute character going through a world in which you kill cute things, how hard is it to just give him a few dialog cues and a few witty lines that someone voiced. I’m sorry, interrupting a game that is primarily centered on action through text boxes makes me just want to skip past them. I had this same problem with Moon, but seeing as how this game is suppose to be humorous, I just find it hard to care about what is going on with the world. I am one of the few people who love little bits of lore, yet when you have 100 entries about the demons I killed and their former lives, some of them are bound to sound samey, and you will get bored of reading all of them
However, Arkedo’s never been huge on the story, so maybe the gameplay can help this title stay afloat. Sadly, that is not the case, but it could be fixed in a remarkably simple fashion. To quickly summarize, this is a platformer where you move around on a mix between a buzz saw, tire, and jetpack. Although, when you are not leaping, drilling, and sawing through foes and hazards, you are shooting at foes with the right stick to aim. However, there are two massive oversights with the shooting that could be fixed in about a day of work, tops.
First of all, the jump button, which you use a lot seeing as how you have a jetpack, is the A button, and you cannot remap your controls on the console version. So if you want to shoot and fire your weapon at the same time, enjoy jumping with your tilted left index finger. Secondly, the game’s camera is in too close, 90% of the time. Now, I have this gripe with a lot of titles, yet here it is just pathetic. You see, by pressing the right bumper, you can pause the action and zoom out the map. And since enemies can attack from offscreen, they are clearly rendering them through the map, if not then why would the loading screens be 10-15 seconds long for a 2D platformer? But I might be able to deal with that, except for how firing off screen results in your weapon’s fire being destroyed.
I need to question whether or not anyone tested a game when I see problems as simple as these. They are not intricate schemes. I mean, I nearly failed my AP Computer Science class, and I could at least remap control inputs. And you barely ever zoom out, so it being activated by the A button would really not change anything for it. Well, it would make the three demons that you kill by using it harder to kill. Yes, three of the 100 “unique” foes in this game are killed just by pressing one button. Hell, there are about six guys who run around and need to be juggled by sawing into them. And even then, none of the battles with these colorful beasts are all that memorable. I mean, I ended up accidentally killing about 10 of them.
But here’s the kicker, after you kill these cute neon… They have no consistent theme, so I’ll just call them things. You get to play a little Warioware style minigame. Now, I actually enjoyed Warioware quite a bit with the first GBA title and the DIY DS one. And my favorite thing with these was practicing them so I could get a long combo going. So when it turns out there are only about 30 or so of these, with them only being one per demon, I was a bit disappointed. That, and they can be a lot harder to understand, since the one word prompt is trying to be funny, and they have to deal with several buttons, rather than just doing it with two at its most complex point.
After plowing through this title within 3 days, which totaled at about 10 hours, I can hardly even remember what the beginning of the game was like. All of these little annoyances like money you collect for personalized items, the abundance of insta-kill spikes, because they are just wonderful and fair. The somewhat floaty controls, where every jump is a leap of faith, because the developers don’t understand that jetpacks fire in bursts. It all becomes one great blur on minor design errors that make this really feel like it was designed by people who had no idea what they were doing.
Granted, this game is at least 10 times more complex than Arkedo’s other titles, with things like multiple weapon slots and an entire metagame where you use your slayed foes as day laborers, in a main menu option known as the island. Let alone a few dozen customizable one piece outfits, and multiple coverings for your buzz saw. So I should feel some understanding that the gameplay is very rough, and I might be willing to, since the game can get pretty intense and fun when the invincibility frames are not being reduced to less than a second’s worth. It is just a mess of ideas that could fit, but don’t really mesh well. And the same could be said for the visuals.
Now, I absolutely adore 2D art, to the point where I find Rayman Origins to be the best looking videogame of all time. And I will say that all styles are fine in my book, yet Arkedo’s art direction always felt a bit off to me. I think the game is trying to be as cute as it can be so the blood splatters feel all the more potent, by the way, this is somehow a T rated game. But it is almost to the point where it just gets annoying. I love primary colors and things that are both disgusting and adorable, yet these deformed creatures just look like random doodles from the artist, with no real consistency or quality control, just the first 100 miniboss ideas they could muster up.
Now, I wouldn’t call them especially poorly designed, some look great for the minute they are alive but with the entire world being a stylized rainbow mesh that is trying to be as colorful as possible, the entire game starts looking bland later on. It is somehow both anarchic and very, very safe, trying to wallow in the fact they are killing monsters that are very cute, and it just gets dull the tenth time you do it. Moderation is the key to impact, keeping a superb engagement flow of peaks and valleys is how you keep an audience, but here it is always on, and always hitting either the same or very similar notes.
I do actually like some of the tracks, with the second area and the happy-happy worlds having either a very cool beat, or a French woman seeing a song that oozes TwistedPixel’s style. Yet the entire game could benefit more from getting some voice work than nearly any other I could think of. Seriously, the game is ripe for a psychotic sounding French guy to voice Ash and cackle as a madman, while tearing up insects and… Seriously, what the hell are these designs? And don’t worry about subtitles, this game is suppose to be insane, and another language’s direct translation would already sound wonderfully mad for people who don’t speak French, and just the fun kind of mad for those who do.
To condense this into something that is just 3 pages in length, I am actually shocked at the final product of Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit. Not by the fact the game is bad, since there is some fun to be had in small doses. Rather how the title has so much that could be done well that seems so easy in hindsight. It did not frustrate me as much as some other titles, but I certainly was not smiling a lot during it. From the relatively boring visuals, the lack of sound clips that would enhance a game like this tremendously, the repetitive gameplay, and a stupidly short blink time, I cannot recommend it either. It is what I call a failed shuttle of a game, one that can only be learned from, but is really not worth playing. perhaps a designer can find some interesting lessons about planning ahead, but for the average buyer, it falls downhill after the demo. Feeling mishandled at the best of times, and processed at the worst.
A batch of good ideas that are hampered by poor execution. It is not good or bad, it’s just middle of the road and can only serve as a learning tool for other, better games.
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