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Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
Like that kid in your third grade class who ate bugs at recess just to freak people out, Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is weird. Really weird.
From developer Arkedo Studios, HellYeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit follows the exploits of Ash, the dead rabbit prince of Hell. While he normally puts on a tough guy front, Ash has a deep, dark secret: he loves rubber duckies. And when candid photos catch him in the act of playing with said rubber duckies in the bathtub, Ash suddenly finds himself on a quest for vengeance, seeking to take out the 100 monsters who made fun of him online.
From there, you’ll travel throughout multiple areas of Hell, defeating monsters and enslaving them to work for you and help you earn valuable items to aid your progression throughout the game.
The gameplay of Hell Yeah! feels a bit like a throwback tribute to retro games, with more than a few references to games and film, both old and new. An action platformer to its core, Hell Yeah! is presented in a 2D sidescrolling format that encourages players to explore, even borrowing certain aspects of the Metroidvania-style convention of allowing access to certain areas after a specific power-up has been acquired. Mounted on a massive sawblade and toting multiple guns, you’ll travel throughout each level in search of the monsters in the area on whom you’re out to get revenge. After killing all of the monsters, a door to the next section will unlock, and the routine starts over. It seems a bit hectic and directionless at first, but a map helps to guide the way, and the nature of the level’s design feels intuitive and easy to navigate after exploring.
Collectibles can be used to purchase upgrades in the store, found in various locations throughout the map. Upgrades offer players a variety of options, be it improving firepower or customizing your character’s look. There’s a lot of upgrades to be had, and many of them will drastically improve your overall experience, especially as you get further and the game’s difficulty level begins to increase.
The game’s controls feel tight enough, and movements in both platforming and combat feel smooth and satisfying. Some segments will strip you of your weapons, forcing you to rely on environmental attacks to take out enemies and adding an interesting level of gameplay variation that keeps the formula feeling fresh.
Where the game runs into issues, however, is with its inconsistencies. While it is a shamelessly goofy downloadable title, the writing begins to get absurd and tends to feel a little too over the top, at times feeling like they’re trying a little too hard to be quirky. The monsters Ash hunts down throughout the game are essentially mini bosses, but don’t offer much challenge outside of having a larger heath meter than the smaller enemies around it. You’ll have to use some strategy for certain monsters, but many of them just require dodging ranged or melee attacks and firing your own weapons back at them. Fights generally aren’t challenging and begin to feel repetitive, and instead of simply killing each boss when their health meter runs out, you’ll be faced with completing a WarioWare-esque minigame that, when successfully completed, leads to a gruesome death for the monster. While the mini games are an interesting idea and were even somewhat entertaining, they did take a bit away from the challenge of facing off against the monsters, instead reducing what is otherwise solid combat and minimizing it to relying on quick time events or reflexes. Minigames range from answering odd quiz questions to playing a song with buttons a-la The Ocarina of Time. In a sense, I think they were trying to be unique and play up the game’s quirky, eccentric nature. And in a few cases, it worked well; it just got tedious and uninteresting after a while.
The game’s presentation, however, is fantastic. Using a cartoon art style, character models are unique, the world varies greatly and feels different with every single zone, and color is used to give the game a bright, vivid nature that conveys the game’s strange personality. Sound design works well and does its job to flesh out the world, and certain parts of Hell Yeah! such as noises, character interaction, and even the UI all give more than a few nods to retro gaming that made the game feel fresh out of an arcade.
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is good, not great, and nothing if not a little weird. It’s a lot of fun to experiment with different weapons, and exploration is fun as you navigate the game’s unique and diverse world. Even combat is fun, despite its somewhat repetitive and cheesy nature, and although the writing tends to be a little overreaching, it all comes together at he end of the day to form a solid platformer that any fans of the genre will enjoy playing.