I’m going to open this article by telling you to go out and buy Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit right now. If you are the type of gamer that fondly remembers the golden years of SEGA, and you love slaughtering hordes of grotesque monsters in a bright, colorful world, then you will not be disappointed. It’s one of those games that comes along every once in a while that is so ridiculous and juvenile, yet so perfectly fun, that it takes you back to the games of your childhood… and then it turns into a crazy, violent, hilarious bit of gaming.
The story in Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is a simple one. Ash is a rabbit, and he just so happens to be the prince of Hell. Unfortunately, Ash has a secret that would jeopardize his standing with the monsters he rules; he is obsessed with duckies. When someone takes pictures of him and his duckies, Ash knows that he must retrieve the pictures before they are leaked, and that means killing everyone in Hell. The game tells the story through some quick cutscenes and text-based dialog, but there isn’t much substance to the story. The being said, there are some very funny moments when Ash is interacting with boss characters and other creatures, with references and cliches ever present.
Forget everything you know about the platforming genre. Sure, you’ll run, you’ll jump, you’ll fire rockets, but Wrath of the Dead Rabbit throws players into a large, explorable 2D world, taking on a Metroidvania style of gameplay and throwing in some truly unique gameplay. Aside from the different weapons you’ll receive, Ash has a spinning drill that he uses to tear through enemies and the environment. When the drill is active, gameplay becomes much faster as you speed through levels killing anything in your path. The highlight of monster-slaying, however, comes when you kill any higher-level creature.
Ash preforms a unique interactive finishing kill for each major monster you take down, and each kill is hilarious and brilliant. There’s something special about turning into a rocket, flying into space, and then shooting back down upon a creature who explodes into a wave of gore. These kills get especially creative upon finishing off on of the awesome boss battles.
Throughout your adventure, you’ll be kill monsters in a variety of huge game worlds, each with a unique look and feel to them. The scenery never gets boring, and the creature design is some of the most interesting and funny I’ve seen. It feels like Arkedo and SEGA have created the next Earthworm Jim or Toe Jam and Earl, which is saying a lot.
However, with all of the good, there are a few issues that can’t be overlooked. One is the loose controls. Jumping and moving around isn’t as tight as it should be for a platformer, sometimes feeling a bit awkward. Honestly, it feels more like playing a very well-made Flash game rather than a console game. The camera’s movement is also a bit jerky as it follows Ash through levels, and can get a bit disorienting at times. These are minor faults, but they are faults nonetheless.
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is more than just a fantastic platformer. It’s filled with cartoon references (including enemies that look very similar to popular characters, look up the character “Patrack” for instance), and plenty of stylish gameplay, but it signals a promising future for SEGA. Turn on your system of choice, and buy this game. It’ll be one of the best titles you’ll play this year.