Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit review for PSN, XBLA

Platform: PSN
Also On: XBLA
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Arkedo
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: Leaderboards

It?s been a pretty great year so far for indie developed titles on home console platforms, and Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit, developed by the fine folks over at Arkedo Studios, looks to continue that trend. The game harkens back to the 16-bit era, complete with opening on a familiar SEGA chime pre-title.  However, the visuals are certainly an upgrade over the Genesis days, featuring some gorgeously animated worlds and characters that look anything but dated. Seriously, Hell Yeah has such a unique and excellent art style that it really stands out among the rest of the retro-themed stuff that?s released this year.

Hell Yeah puts you in the role of Ash, a skeleton rabbit that rules as Prince in Hell, who has been caught in a compromising situation exploring his fetishes with a rubber ducky in a bathtub. Pictures were snapped by paparazzi, leaked to the public, and now Ash?s own manhood (rabbithood?) is being called into question. Ash, being the Prince of Hell, decides to set out and murder every single citizen of Hell that has seen the pictures, all 100 of them.

This sets up the main hook for Hell Yeah, which involves tracking down these 100 monsters across a series of open ended stages. You?ll have a helpful tracker that?ll give you a rough idea of where to find the monsters on each stage, and usually when you approach one there?s some type of short interaction that?ll helpfully show you right where they are, or give you a clue on how to get to them. These monsters act more as traditional mini-bosses found in other titles more so than literal boss fights, but there are a handful of larger monsters that tend to cap off each stage for a more standard boss fight.

Encounters with the 100 vary from monster to monster. Some are pretty straightforward fights, allowing you to kill the monster in question with your circular saw blade jetpack, which can grind enemies and obstacles into oblivion. Others may require you to use your massive arsenal of weapons, encapsulating things like machine guns, rocket launchers, grenades, lasers, etc. Once you whittle away their life bar, the game will trigger a short sequence that involves a mini-game akin to something found in Nintendo?s Wario Ware series of games, in order to finish off the monster.

These sequences add a little needed variety to the monster killing fun, but also start to get a tad repetitive towards the latter half of the game. There?s some genuine humor here, and fun throwbacks to classic games like Mortal Kombat and Duck Hunt, but once you?ve run the gamut of every sequence, it does get a little tedious to do them over and over again. It?s a great idea, but making more unique and individualized sequences for each monster death would have been even better.

And really, that?s sort of where Hell Yeah falls a little short. It starts to wear out its welcome around the midway point of the game. The hook of hunting down and killing these monsters is great, as is the actual monster design, look of the worlds, and the overall soundtrack. But the gameplay ends up feeling sort of stale at some point, and I found myself struggling to see the game through to the end. And it?s not a particularly long game either, which adds to the slightly disappointing feeling that Hell Yeah delivered.

Hell Yeah fires on all cylinders when it comes to presentation, but the overly repetitive nature of the gameplay, and the main driving hook associated with it, keeps this from matching the quality presented by other like-minded PSN and XBLA titles released this year. I definitely think it?s worth checking out, via a demo first if possible, but outside of a really well realized look, and some great presentation, there isn?t enough to the gameplay that will keep you coming back for more.

Grade: C+