Review: Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (XBLA/PSN/PC)

Before I jump into my review of Arkedo and SEGA’s brilliantly demented and gloriously fucked up Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit, I want you to take a good long look at the above image and see what you can spot. The torrents of blood that make up your health meter? The fact that your Loot chest has eyes and teeth? The demonic two-faced being that your headphone-wearing puffy-haired main character is taking out with his rocket launcher?

The fact of the matter is, Hell Yeah! has enough craziness for 10 games; its eagerly demented presentation plays a major role in what makes this XBLA/PSN/PC download title so unique and enjoyable. It may not prove to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if this is your thing, then you’re in for a wildly fun and surprisingly nostalgic (if you’ve been a SEGA fan for a while) journey through the colorful and insane depths of Hell.


Ash, the prince of Hell, was not having such a great day; though not particularly phased by the passing of his father, he did make the major mistake of getting too…romantic with a rubber duckie while taking a bath. To his horror, a paparazzi caught him in the act, effectively making him the laughingstock of the Hellternet. Determined to recover the picture and to kill anyone who saw it, Ash quickly acquires a drill and some firepower with the help of his servant, Nestor, who happens to be a squid clothed in a top hat and a monocle. Yeah, it’s one of those games.

Ash’s journey takes the form of a 2D platformer, one where you progress from level to level in a linear fashion, though you do eventually gain the ability to teleport back to earlier levels. Doors are scattered throughout each stage that block your progress; above every door is a number letting you know the amount of mini-bosses you have to take out before they open for you, all of whom can be located using both your radar and a full level map available in the Pause menu. The system works well in that levels are large enough and have their various nooks and crannies for exploration, yet since you can only explore what sits in front of the locked doors until you open them, you can’t get too lost for the most part, which is a good thing.

Typically these mini-bosses are preceded by a dialogue exchange between them and Ash. Though there’s no voice acting, the writing’s so funny and self-aware on its own that I didn’t even for a second mind the text box-style conversations. Like the environments that surround them, the enemies are imaginatively drawn and far more varied (and crazy) than you’ll expect. The mini-games that you must participate in before you kill them are incredibly funny as well, all leading up to such stylishly gory and over the top kills that I’m amazed Hell Yeah! got away with a Teen rating. Truly awesome and gory stuff.

SEGA fans should find a lot to love here; with an atmosphere that does its best to pay homage to the SEGA Genesis era (both artistically and musically) not to mention the various references to SEGA franchises both past and present, Hell Yeah’s not only a love letter to classic gaming but to gaming culture in general. Even the tips given to you during the load times are epic in all their self-referential glory, and this carries into the gameplay as well for an all around entertaining experience.

All that said, Hell Yeah’s biggest stumbling block, and what has resulted in a lot of division among the critical community, is the platforming. Though a 2D platformer through and through, there’s not a ton of invention to the platforming here. It’s serviceable and gets the job done, but if you’re expecting a game that controls with the fluidity of something like Rayman Origins, then you’ll probably take issue with Hell Yeah’s loose controls, instant death spikes, and the sometimes poorly-placed checkpoints. Far more emphasis is placed on the game’s combat, with removing the required enemies being the key to progressing through each and every level. Your arsenal of weapons, as well as your HP gauge and countless character customization options, can be upgraded in the Shops scattered throughout. These upgrades plus the enemy variety keep Hell Yeah from growing repetitive, even though both the mini-bosses and regular bosses are all basically an exercise in avoiding their moves while gunning them down; not a ton of strategy there.

There are other little flaws as well. Load times can feel a bit long, especially for a digital title. Occasionally the game’s hints for dealing with certain mini-bosses (and the instructions for the resulting mini-games) are vague to a fault, and the developer’s choice to use QTEs that pop up unexpectedly was a frustrating decision, especially when the loss of one can result in your death if your HP is low enough.

But while Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit may not be a perfect game, it’s one that I fell in love with from the start. With gorgeous visuals, a funny and very self-aware presentation and writing, tons of enemies to defeat in 10 varied environments, not to mention a wealth of side content including missions to take on, and even an island where you can put your defeated monsters to work to acquire rewards in the main game….there’s a lot here to experience. Though the platforming itself may seem fairly uninspired and some frustration rears its ugly head at times, this is a game with the same energy and sense of style that I’ve always loved in my SEGA games, and without a doubt I recommend giving it a shot.

We can only hope that SEGA’s planned “digital focus” involves more games like this one.

Positives

•Incredible visuals, varied levels and monster design
•Funny dialogue, great SEGA references
•Plenty of weapons and character skins to choose from
•Lengthy campaign and side stuff to take on. Great value.

Negatives

•Controls feel floaty
•Spikes that kill you in one hit aren’t fun
•Platforming aspects not the best; game’s more about the style
•Checkpoint placement occasionally an issue

Ad:

16 responses to “Review: Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (XBLA/PSN/PC)

  1. CrazyTails says:

    Nice review N.

    I own the game and love it to death. I disagree with the floaty controls. I mean can’t a platformer have their own unique control style? You might as well say that mario controls atrociously in any of his game because his movement is slippery and.. whatever.

    You raise points i’ve seen in other reviews as well but different doesn’t always equal bad imo.

    Anyway, I understand they are minor as the review is very postive, and deserved.

    I’ve personally noticed a major similarity with an old game epic games made back in the day called jazz jackrabbit. The first one specifically. That game was also very similar to sonic.

    • ezodagrom says:

      For someone that complained so much about Sonic 4 Episode 1, I find it weird that you have no problems with the Hell Yeah controls. o_o

    • CrazyTails says:

      I’m sorry but you could have figured the simple answer to that yourself.

      The simple answer is because hell yeah isn’t sonic, and even then the controls are more fun.

    • ezodagrom says:

      It isn’t Sonic, so what? Losing momentum during a jump when the player stops holding the button makes platforming in Hell Yeah just as imprecise as Sonic 4 Episode 1.

      I can understand liking this game and not liking Episode 1, but having no problems with the controls here and having problems with Episode 1, well, that I find weird.

    • CrazyTails says:

      Still, you are very much missing the point of what I mean. We could go into details like sonic losing momentum goign downhill, sticking to walls and having terrible acceleration.

      But the point is much more simple than that. Sonic is expected to play as sonic. Even if sonic got good different controls, sonic is allready established and allready sold itself.

      Hell yeah is new and is establishing its standard right now. The game isnt supposed to have the same features as sonic. For example hell yeah has instant acceleration to his top speed, so if u go to a halt u can instantly move fast again instead of having to slowly accelate wether in air or surface. The idea is executed well and it works. Sonic 4 fails in what it’s trying to be.

      And beside that, Ash slides downhill without going to a halt

    • ezodagrom says:

      Well, about ground movement I don’t have anything to say, I can’t disagree with you in this one, but about the jump, it doesn’t matter if it’s Sonic or not, to me losing momentum mid jump just doesn’t feel natural in any 2D platformer.
      I just thought it was weird that you didn’t have any complaints about this and that you’re even defending the controls in this game.

      (I must note that I don’t dislike Hell Yeah because of the controls though, I don’t like it for other reasons).

    • CrazyTails says:

      Well it’s really more about the total package. Sonic in sonic 4e1 went to an instant halt while the acceleration was really slow. Slow acceleration in a sonic game shouldn’t make sense, yet sonic has always had slower acceleration than the usual platformer, no one ever saw this as a flaw because it worked well within the package. The challenge was to keep your momentum and the mechanics had a very good sense of gravity and inertia to strengthen that experience. The absence of that in s4e1 made it a chore to manuvre and was another example of sonic 4 failing at what it tried to be. Almost like an identity crisis.

      Other than all the reasons why I love sonic’s original mechanics so much, it is also very unique and worth the praise. Basically sonic had set a very high standard and very few 2d platformers even today are able to emulate that sense of gravity.

      But I’ve dwelled away too much. Hell yeah’s controls are nowhere as close of the same level as the classic sonic games, but it succeeds in what it’s trying to be. Having slow acceleration and instant loss of momentum was really bad, while in hell yeah you lose momentum quick but at the same time you also instantly get full acceleration.

      Anyway I understand what you mean though. Maybe what i’m saying doesn’t make sense, but I hope it does >.<

    • -nSega54- says:

      “but about the jump, it doesn’t matter if it’s Sonic or not, to me losing momentum mid jump just doesn’t feel natural in any 2D platformer.”

      Losing momentum’s a problem in Sonic, which is a speed-driven game….in a game driven by its fast speeds, losing momentum is a major blockade in that.

      In Hell Yeah, where fast speed is certainly not a main factor, it’s not a very big issue at all.

  2. -nSega54- says:

    Well thanks!

    Regarding the floaty controls, the good news is that Hell Yeah doesn’t feature much in the way of actual “platform hopping,” so it wasn’t a huge negative on the game, but on the few occasions when you are required to jump (say, over a pit of spikes) with precision, it’s very tough to judge your character’s jump and to land on the next platform without falling right off it.

    Definitely it’s not a huge problem since the levels by and large don’t rely on this type of platform hopping, but when it does show up on occasion the controls aren’t really up to the task, IMO.

    Again, a fairly small complaint.

  3. Dubba814 says:

    This game really made it feel like I was playing an old Genesis game. This game is really awesome! The controls, the gameplay, the music, the art style, and the story is just hilarious! I would totally go get thsi game if I were you if you are a huge SEGA fan! 🙂

  4. CrazyTails says:

    Yeah lol. I’m glad you reviewed the game and as you may have noticed I am very positive about the game. think it’s a great addition to SEGA’s library of games and if this is where SEGA is planning to head with their digital games, i’d support that all the way. It would even be greater if teams grow in the proces and end up making tripple A retail games.

  5. Hitrax says:

    Good times..three great SEGA releases all out now…

    Nights into Dreams, Hell Yeah! and Sonic Adventure 2…

    Buy and Buy and Bought.

    • Dubba814 says:

      What about Jet Set Radio, Zaxxon Escape, Sonic 4 Episode 2, Binary Domain, and Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown? Those were all good too and they came out this year (And of course I’ve bought all the games mentioned :P).

    • Barry the Nomad says:

      I think he meant out now within a weeks time. And what a great week it is for SEGA games!

  6. STORM! says:

    I still not sure if Sega owns this title… I think not. But it has a lot of Sega mentions on it, like the dinossaur that was killed by a ninja… LOL! Shinob*

    Mr. Bones should have made a cameo on this!

  7. -nSega54- says:

    I hope I don’t get too much shit for saying this, but I really hope that Sega fans aren’t so busy buying ports of games they’ve already played that they’re missing out on great original content such as this title.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.