It was just as my Sega booth appointment began when I was ushered to a soft armchair in front of a console. "Ah, this is how all booth tours should begin," I thought to myself. Little did I know that I was about to be shown one of my favorite games of E3, a game I had only briefly heard about prior to the conference's start.
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is a downloadable title for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 about tearing through hell, hunting down 101 monsters who've seen something they had no right to watch. It's a story about revenge, characterized by its bizarre, brutal and mature visual style and frantic platforming action, but even that description is woefully inadequate. Simply put, Hell Yeah! is brilliant in its insanity. I forced myself the quit after a single level, because I doubt I could have pried myself from that seat if I had played a single minute more.
The original storyline of Hell Yeah! began with the King of Hell having his pants stolen, and his subsequent death from shame. Oddly enough, that storyline was too similar Ron Gilbert's Deathspank, so Arkedo Studios shifted gears and wrote something better. The new Hell Yeah! is about an x-rated picture of Ash, the Prince of Hell, being posted online and his quest for vengeance against the 101 monsters that have viewed it.
And that's how Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit starts, but it only hints at what's to come. A coffin erupts out of the ground, Ash smashes out and now the player now has full control. Only, Ash is basically a pathetic dead rabbit initially. He can jump and jog around, but he can't fight enemies or traverse any environmental obstacles. It's in these first few minutes of helplessness that you begin to empathize with Ash's insatiable rage. Some monsters gonna die, very soon.
Hell Yeah! is spread across 10 areas or levels, and each of these levels is an explorable Metroidvania style ants nest. That means that certain areas are inaccessible, requiring you to either purchase a specific weapon or item, solve a puzzle, or my favorite -- defeat a specific amount of monsters. The 101 monsters are spread through the 10 areas, each of them unique, and they range between mini and full-on bosses. Really though, that short description is completely unworthy of how incredible these guys are.
These 101 monsters are each beautifully hand drawn and animated, they each have their own combat mechanics, and they each have epic "Finish Him" mini-games and beyond over-the-top death animations.
The first monster you discover is a helpless jelly blob that looks like he's from Dragon Quest, but lucky him he's behind a wall. He mocks Ash, believing himself unapproachable, and Ash is forced to go on his way. Of course, when Ash finds his one-wheeled saw/drill/murder-mobile and breaks through the wall, the tables quickly turn. The jelly blob offers no resistance, so Ash is able to quickly defeat him. Lightning flashes and you encounter the first monster execution mini-game. Being your first monster, this first one is extremely easy -- just mash the X button and pop the monster like a zit. Upon completion, a huge, disgusting animation plays out with goo sloshed all across the screen and BAM -- 1/101 monsters killed.
That's just the first monster! With every monster thereafter, the initial platforming/shmup fight becomes much more difficult, the WarioWare style execution minigame grows that much more perverse, over the top and complicated, and also that final, gratifying kill animation becomes more insane and ridiculous. The final boss of the first area's death results in a veritable nuclear blast. Still, my favorite had to be a sad robot standing alone with some balloons, at least until you drop a giant crate labeled with "Happy Birthday" on his poor robot head.
Hell Yeah! makes every second of gameplay an extreme, twisted carnival ride gone wrong, resulting in no survivors. Some might try this game out and pass it off as a Metroidvania platformer with a Disgaea motif, and you should feel sorry for these gamers. Hell Yeah! feels inspired from a fever-dream, and Arkedo should be proud for bringing such a creative project to life. The game is great fun to play, but extraordinary as an experience in general.
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is content complete and has been submitted to the various platforms for approval. Expect a release date in the coming months.