Previews// Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit

Posted 3 Apr 2012 10:09 by
Meet Ash. He might look like a cute cartoon rabbit plucked straight out of a Hanna-Barbera production, but he is in fact one bad bunny. Heís the Prince of Hell, after all, and has a reputation for bringing pain and destruction.

So, when an equally devilish creature causes havoc in the underworld by posting intimate photos of Ash online, you can bet your butt that the lethal lapin will go on a raving rampage.

It all sounds a bit mental to be honest with you. Fantastically mental. And thatís probably the best way to sum up Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit, a downloadable platformer by independent French studio Arkedo. The developer cut its teeth in the big bad world of digital distribution by self-publishing a number of bitesize retro-inspired games on PlayStation Network - but with the backing of SEGA, the ambition and production values of this colourful and gruesome romp has been cranked up to 11.

Itís easy to see the retro gaming and comic book inspirations in Arkedoís latest effort - the whole thing feels a lot like an Amiga platformer. The gravity and physics are well-weighted, the sheer scale of the level maps is mind-boggling, and the cartoony blood splats and gratuitous demon-on-demon comic violence seems like something Epic Games would have dreamed up back in the 1990s.

You start off without any means of attack - the opening objective in this vividly-coloured red hellscape is simply to hop from platform to platform and avoid getting hit by cheeky flying eyeballs and other bizarre creatures. The tables turn in your favour dramatically when you pick up an awesome-looking buzzsaw jetpack, which Ash can use to travel around like a wheel of death.

Suddenly, globular enemies with googly eyes that previously mocked you can be shredded to pieces thanks to your steel contraption. The blades make you faster, more powerful and allows you to dig through certain materials in order to progress through the level. There are certain enemies, however, that take more than just a run-in to squish. These are formidable demons that must be vanquished in order to proceed to the next part of the stage.

Some of them require tools like a heavy-as-hell rocket launcher to access a weak point, while others ask you to avoid certain attacks while using the Right Trigger to Ďdrillí into them and whittle down their health bar. Once you do that, a minigame is played that, when won, kicks off a satisfying and ridiculously unnecessary finishing move. One will have you button-bashing the A button to literally squeeze a blue blob with Ashís fingers, while another gives you a Who Wants to be a Millionaire style question - the prize being an avalanche of napalm missiles in the victimís face.

The opening level that I played might have acted a little bit like a tutorial, but itís entertaining in its approach, with humourous dialogue between Ash and his oft-suffering butler-squid. But the stage is no less ambitious - itís quite intricate, with twisting paths and various nooks and crannies that hold secret bonuses.

So huge is this stage, in fact, that Arkedo has set aside a button just to help you navigate you way around. Holding the right bumper pauses the action and zooms out to give you a breathtaking view of the 2D environment around you. There are even areas that you might need to return to, once your equipment has been upgraded.

Iím loving Hell Yeah! Put simply, this is what Jazz Jackrabbit would be if he was undead and king of the underworld. Platforming fans - and those with a penchant for the comically unique - should check out this promising title when it arrives on PSN, XBLA and PC later this year.

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