Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit review: Feigned enthusiasm

It’s rare to find a game that seems like it tried to work in literally every idea discussed during brainstorming, but Arkedo’s Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit feels like a shining example of that phenomenon. The production value is high, tons of effort went into the writing and the gameplay is relatively unique. But in bringing so many individual elements together, the game as a whole somehow manages to be nearly devoid of fun.

Things are as off-the-wall as they can be in Hell Yeah. You’re the Prince of Hell — a dead rabbit who rides around in a saw-blade hovercraft — and your mission is to recover scandalous pictures of you and your rubber duck, which would somehow undermine the validity of your claim to the throne. Or something like that. The unapologetically random nature of the game’s core concept extends to everything else in the game, from enemy design to level settings, so don’t expect fire and brimstone here — Dante’s vision this is not. There are casinos, futuristic dance clubs and what can only be described as Jerry Garcia’s wet dream, among a bunch of other areas. The game’s spastic, sugar-coated ADD-inducing presentation might appeal to high school students who spend their parents’ money at Hot Topic, but it’s truthfully nothing more than a bunch of incoherent nonsense that’s random for the sake of being random.

It’s not that Arkedo didn’t try — the high level of effort is unquestionable — but it feels like no idea was left on the cutting room floor, good or bad. The game is a platformer, positioned as a Metroid-esque open-world title, but it’s actually totally linear. You can’t even return to areas until you’re in the last ten percent of the game and even then you’re directed to specific places. That said, you’ll jump, shoot and drill your way through the game’s shockingly boring and sterile areas, en route toward each of the game’s hundred target enemies. Most of them have an interactive minigame before they actually die, like shooting a coin into an arcade machine or dropping a pepper into some stew. This triggers an animated sequence where the rabbit kills the monster in some outlandish fashion, like backing over them with a semitruck or shooting them with a huge rocket. Unfortunately there seem to be only about 25 or so, and it gets tedious when you see the same animation time in and time out. It wouldn’t be a huge deal if each one had a unique death, but it’s sadly not the case.

There are a multitude of weapons in which you can use to dispatch your enemies, though you’ll likely find one or two of them more useful than the others and only use what you like. This means, sadly, that almost every enemy can be killed with the same guns. There are a few you’ll need to drill to death, and maybe five others that require creative solutions, but much like the “explorative” gameplay, diverse weaponry is nothing more than an illusion. Those who are unhappy with the design of the main character and his vehicle can customize either using unlockable skins that have absolutely no affect on gameplay whatsoever.

Frankly, Hell Yeah feels like a mess — a whirlwind of concepts too random and insane to fit in any other game. It’s a hodge-podge of strange without any unifying factor or characteristic to draw the player in. It’s the closest I’ve seen a game come to representing “throw stuff at a wall and see what sticks”. It’s clear why that isn’t a design philosophy that sees much use after playing through.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Hell Yeah: Wrath of the Dead Rabbit was provided by Sega for this review. It is available now for $14.99 on the Playstation Network, Steam or 1200 Microsoft points ($15) on the XBLA marketplace.

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Posted on by Anthony Swinnich in PC, PC Reviews, PSN, PSN Reviews, XBLA, XBLA Reviews
  • http://twitter.com/GaTechGrad Levi D. Smith

    I bought Hell Yeah yesterday during the Steam winter sale and I’m having fun with it. If Rare ever made a 2D sequel to Conker’s Bad Fur Day I imagine it would be like this game. I was surprised that it got low review scores. Most of the mini-games are clever, but I agree that the repeated ones are lame. Some of the mini-games were really humorous to me (“Ocarina Time” comes to mind). I don’t think the game is worth the full $15 price tag, but it’s a pretty good time for under $4 when it’s on sale.