Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit Review

By Adam Rosenberg - Posted Sep 27, 2012

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit will win you over with its deranged charm as it simultaneously encourages you to test your controller's ability to withstand high-speed impacts on the nearest wall. It's got an old-school gaming mentality of trial-and-error repetition mixed with sharp 2D visuals, a surprisngly varied approach to Metroidvania-styled play, and bitingly funny writing.

The Pros
  • Lots of variety in the gameplay and environments
  • Very funny writing
  • Beautiful hand-drawn 2D graphics
The Cons
  • Meta game elements feel out of place in such a short game
  • Excessively long load times
  • A few control quirks leads to many frustrating deaths
  • Feels like a slog if you're not a fan of trial-and-error repetition

Hell Yeah! Wrath of Dead Rabbit Review:

Hell Yeah! follows the exploits of Ash, bunny skeleton prince of the underworld, as he attempts to defuse an explosive controversy. It seems that Ash has a... special sort of fondness for rubber duckies, leading to an embarrassing situation when paparazzi photos of him in the tub generate 100 views from among Hell's elite.

Those 100 monsters come in various shapes and sizes, but your goal is simple: wipe them all out using spinning sawblades, laser beams, bullets, and high explosives before they can bring word of Ash's deviance to the masses. The targets are scattered all throughout Arkedo's cartoony, 2D version of Hell and you'll take a variety of different approaches to murdering each one. Some you can simply shoot or saw in the face while others require more of an outside-the-box approach.



Hell Is Other Monsters

The Metroidvania style of gameplay means that you're constantly earning access to new locations and tools as your kill count rises. Progression is based entirely on your shrinking hit list; there's a little bit of flexibility in how you approach your targets, but there's also a very deliberate pacing that requires you to take out one group before you can advance to the next area and the next set of gossip-loving hellspawn.

The gameplay should be immediately familiar to fans of games like early 2D Metroid and Castlevania adventures. Hell Yeah! probably edges more toward the latter thanks to its high level of difficulty. You will die, and often, as you learn the layouts of each section and the proper timing for your various jumps and attacks. If learning through trial-and-error repetition isn't your thing, then you'd best prepare for a frustrating journey.

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Variety Is The Spice Of Afterlife

It's not that Ash isn't well-equipped. Quite the contrary, in fact. Hell's bunny prince has a hefty arsenal that he can tap into, starting with a spinning buzzsaw that doubles as a jetpack. An assortment of firearms unlock as you progress through the game, with other, optional ones -- everything from a revolver or shotgun to a holy water flamethrower -- sold at the in-game store.

The buzzsaw jetpack introduces some control quirks, since holding down the jump button allows you to hover in mid-air for longer than you might expect from this sort of game. Many of the platforming puzzles are built around effective hovering, requiring players to tread very carefully with the over-sensitive controls.

Ash depends heavily on his jetpack, but he isn't always saddled to it. Certain parts of the game leave him without it, allowing for more traditional platforming. Ash can double jump and wall jump, though the latter move will often trip players up since it happens automatically whenever you hit a wall during a double jump. I lost count of the number of rage-inducing deaths I suffered through thanks to an unwanted wall jump, but it was definitely excessive.

Hell Yeah! Wrath of Dead Rabbit

Still other areas put players in control of actual vehicles, including spaceships and submarines. All in, there's a surprising and very welcome level of variety at play here. You won't ever spend too long in any one section, barring impenetrable difficulty spikes, which means you've always got new bits and pieces to look forward to.

The same can be said of Hell Yeah's environments. The underworld feels almost like a sadistic theme park at times. Sure, everything's trying to kill you, but your surroundings can go from traditional fiery Hellscape to rainbow-laden cuteness overload to neon-drenched dance club in the blink of an eye.

The focus on variety extends to Ash's murderous ways as well. Each of your target monsters has a health bar that you'll need to figure out how to drain, but there's still one more hurdle to overcome after that. For every one of your 100 targets there's a finishing move that plays out as a quick-hit minigame, sort of like a depraved Warioware.

Sometimes it's as simple as mashing a button to charge the power on a battery and other times it's more complex, such as one that simplified Guitar Hero-style button-pressing. Successfully completing a minigame rewards you with another monster kill and a fun animated sequence depicting your target's gruesome death. Fun times.

Hell Yeah! Wrath of Dead Rabbit

Stumbling Through Hell

Arkedo's only real misstep in Hell Yeah! amounts to a half-baked attempt at offering some sort of meta-game. Monsters marked off on Ash's hit list are sent to his private island where they can be put to work. As your personal army of butchered netherfiends grows, you can assign them to work on various tasks that then carry over into your main game.

In gameplay terms, you're presented with four sliders that each relate to a different island project: health, money, research, and rare items. You can assign up to 20 monsters to work on developing each resource. Returning to the island later allows you to reap the benefits of these monster-fueled projects, rewards that carry over to your main game save. Your monster labor can also get sick or angry, effectively putting affected beings out of commission until you send them to the beach for relaxation or the local jail for rehabilitation.

Hell Yeah! Wrath of Dead Rabbit

It's a neat idea but it never really comes to be a useful thing in the main game. Hell Yeah! is a relatively short adventure with some excessively long load times. So much so that one load screen message even makes a joke of that fact. The process of quitting your game, accessing the island from the main menu, and then loading back into your game means multiple minutes of staring at progress bars, to the point that I rarely felt any pull to check on my island.

It's too bad, because the island is pretty cool to cruise around, especially once you've marked a fair portion of monsters off your hit list. You can access hilarious bio information about each one at any time in the game's menus, but you can actually zoom in on the different parts of the island and watch your monster laborers at work.

Raising Hell

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit has a few rough spots and can be exceedingly frustrating, but its deranged sense of charm effectively carries you through. You might break a controller or two as you guide Ash from one target to the next, but you'll spend more time laughing than you will raging. Usually. The play is definitely aiming to please gamers from the old school, but Hell Yeah! offers a fun ride regardless of how many Mega Men you've conquered.