Every so often, a game comes along that defies description and any expectations. Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is such a game. Arkedo, a developer known for its gorgeous, difficult 2D games, is back with a title that is part 2D platformer, part twin-stick shooter and even part WarioWare. It’s a game that needs to be seen (and played) to be believed.
Our “hero” is Ash, a dead rabbit who is also the prince of Hell, who has had “intimate” photos of him and his favorite rubber duck taken and spread across Hell’s Internet for all to see. Once these photos spread, Ash vows to reclaim them and kill the one hundred demons who dared view them. The intro gives you the perfect idea of the game’s amazing art style as well as its wacky sense of humor. And that’s just the beginning; things only get crazier from here.
The visuals are great on their own, but it’s how they are used that is so impressive. Even if you don’t find yourself a huge fan of the art itself, you can’t help but admire just how creatively it is used throughout Ash’s adventure through Hell. Not only that, the soundtrack is both catchy and always compliments the visuals whenever possible.
All of this adds to the humor, which is full of many gaming references from Mortal Kombat to Sonic the Hedgehog. Some of the references are a bit on the nose, but Hell Yeah is full to the brim with clever, laugh-out-loud moments. It might not be to everyone’s liking, but there is bound to be at least a handful of jokes that will take you by surprise.
Hell Yeah’s gameplay is an amalgamation of many different elements to create something unique and, for the most part, varied. Throughout most of the game, you control Ash inside of a giant wheel which acts as both a jetpack and a drill. You use this to quickly kill small enemies and drill through areas. You also have a set of guns, which you can aim using the right stick; these are necessary to take out certain enemies and also a majority of the mini-bosses in the game. The weapons range from rocket launchers to machine guns, and they all have their distinct advantages depending on the situation.
Levels are set up in a Metroid-like fashion, with many areas you can’t access until your wheel is upgraded or you have obtained certain abilities. Thankfully, exploration through each area is simple and fun thanks to a helpful map and plenty of secrets to find. You are constantly receiving upgrades that allow you to progress, making the many return trips to previous areas almost as rewarding as they are the first time around.
Best of all, the controls feel solid, and the wheel’s ability to act as a jetpack allows for easy navigation through the game’s many different areas. That’s not to say the game is easy; checkpoints aren’t always forgiving and there are plenty of tough bosses and mini-bosses awaiting you, but the mistakes you make are never the fault of the controls.
The biggest obstacle in Hell Yeah is finding every monster you need to kill and then finding a way to dispose of them. Sometimes the challenge is figuring out how to get to them and sometimes it’s actually being able to defeat them, but there’s enough variety involved so you never find yourself fighting the same battle too often, at least at first. It isn’t long until the game wears out its welcome due to some poor vehicle sections or going through some of the same areas you did earlier in the game. There’s still fun to be had, it just felt like they ran out of great ideas by the time you have to take out the last twenty or so monsters.
Once you actually kill one of the many monsters you are after, you have to complete a WarioWare-style minigame in order to finish them off. There are a ton of unique minigames and death animations, and they increase in difficulty as you progress through the game. Near the end, you’ll begin to see a lot of them repeated frequently, and some of them do get old, but they are distinctive (and bizarre) enough that you can’t help but love them. It all adds to the game’s strange sense of humor and, in a way, charm.
There’s also a micromanagement minigame called The Island, which allows you to put the monsters you “captured” to work. Through this, you can earn extra health, extra money or new items in the shop, among other things. There’s no real depth to this mode and you can completely ignore it if you choose, but it’s an easy way to earn some bonuses and also see all of the monsters you’ve killed put to work.
It may be a bit long in the tooth, but its humor, presentation and solid mechanics make for an entertaining time. If you’re in the mood for something kind of insane, but also kind of charming, then look no further than Hell Yeah.
Pros: Fantastic art style and music, great sense of humor, fun mechanics and exploration
Cons: Wears out its welcome by the end, some frustrating checkpoints