Baer-ly Played: Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (Review)
I’ve come up with this trivial little theory that says “The less seriously a game takes itself, the more easily I am impressed by it.” Arkedo Studios has apparently overheard me talking about this, and employed it in heavy doses with Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit, released September 26th on the Xbox Live Arcade. The game is hilarious, often in a demented sort of way – but can the bright colors and fourth wall humor keep it afloat?
Hell Yeah! enjoys your typical arcade game description. You play as Ash, the dead bunny prince of darkness, who’s reign is put to scandal by his recently discovered duck fetish. 100 residents of hell bare witness to the exposed hare, and Ash goes from Prince to Pussy in the blink of an eye. What’s a dead rabbit prince to do? Quite clearly, brutally massacre the inhabitants of his kingdom until no more witnesses remain.
And brutal might be the understatement of the year. Ash’s weapon of choice is a circle-saw jetpack combo, which may just be the most radical weapon ever engineered and certainly leaves no bit of slaughter and mayhem to the imagination. As you move forward, you gain access to weapon attachments such as miniguns and rocket launchers, which are necessary to take down some of the more dangerous hell beasts. Once these creatures have been sufficiently weakened, Ash delivers the killing blow in the form of one of several WarioWare-esque mini-games.
The games are plentiful, ranging from 8-bit NES throwback summons to an on-the-spot gaming quiz. Additionally, the creatures themselves are a bewildering feat of the imagination. The team at Arkedo spared no expense in creating a plethora of brilliant constructs in the path of Ash’s mutilation rampage. The levels themselves are just as gorgeous – albeit sometimes a bit too colorful, as there where points at which it was nearly impossible to discern enemies from elements of the background.
Contrary to how easily it could happen, the over-the-top annihilation of Ash’s enemies never truly loses its luster. While a few repeats of the finishing moves do show up, as the enemies get tougher to take down, I was still left with that morbid feeling of satisfaction every time. Unfortunately, that becomes a moot point when the overall control scheme is brought into the discussion. Players use the left analog stick to control Ash’s movement, the right analog stick to aim the weapon, the right trigger to fire and the A button to jump. The astute among you have likely already come to the conclusion that this scheme sounds damn near impossible to come to grips with. And you’re right – it is.
While the difficulty level of the game itself is satisfying, it is nothing but frustrating to move during combat. I personally ended up employing a “Claw” grip to the controller (made famous in the e-sports scene by pro Halo player “Walshy”), using my right index finger for the A button and my middle finger to fire weapons with the right trigger. It only slightly improved the situation, but the idea that I should even need to do this is baffling, especially considering that swapping the duties of the left bumper with those of the A button would have completely eliminated the issue. Chalk that one up to “Glaring Oversight”.
Hell Yeah is crazy, outlandish fun, and at points is just downright friggin’ weird. The unlockables add a bit more fun to the style of things, and there’s enough variety packed in to keep players rolling on through the 4-6 hour experience. A few minor hiccups can be overlooked, but the control scheme is just too awkward to allow for a saving grace. But then again, what do I know? I Baer-ly played it.