Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit

Should you play Hell Yeah!? It has undead rabbits, slick bullet-hell action, and hilarious gags so I'd say...definitely!

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit

Publisher: Sega
Rated: Teen
Players: 1
Price: $14.99
Platforms: Playstation 3 (reviewed), XBox 360, PC
Developer: Arkedo Studio
Release date: 2012-09-25

It's always nice to see a video game come along that gleefully embraces the medium's potential for absurdity. There's a place for verisimilitude, quiet contemplation, and intricate thematic material, but that's no reason to ignore the fact that video games can create truly outrageous and hilarious situations that couldn't exist anywhere else (Saint's Row the Third comes to mind). There must have been many points during the development of Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit when Arkedo (the game's developer) had to decide whether they should really jam more obscure references, parody songs, and outlandish combat sequences into their game. Judging by the end result, the game's title was always the answer.

The game's irreverent tone is quickly established by the opening cutscene (or what Arkedo calls their "non-interactive presentation system"). Ash, the skeletal rabbit prince of hell, finds himself at the center of a sex scandal when steamy pictures of an intimate moment between a rubber ducky and himself are posted to the Hell-ternet. Ash is enraged to discover that 100 monsters have seen the pictures and sets off to punish the looky loos and reclaim the photos.

This journey takes the shape of a side scrolling platformer with a heavy emphasis on dual joystick shooting. Most of the time, Ash is in the center of a circular, bladed jet-pack that has the power to slice through enemies and certain environmental material. Enemies that can't be sawed to death must be targeted with one of the game's many ranged weapons (which vary from machine guns to holy water). Hell Yeah isn't so much about skilled platforming as it is about exploration. In classic Metroid fashion, you'll revisit worlds after obtaining equipment upgrades that allow you to reach previously inaccessible areas. As the game goes on, the bullet-hell combat scenarios get progressively more hectic while the steps needed to find each of the 100 boss monsters become more obscure.

These bosses are the source of most of the game's jokes. Each monster has a life bar that is depleted by shooting it. To deliver the final blow, you complete a short minigame or quicktime event. These sequences are bizarre non sequitors in the a game that is already plenty strange. One presents you with a multiple choice quiz where you have to pick the best character from a Sega game. Another asks you to drop a hot pepper into a vat of chili by pressing a button when it swings over the opening. There's q luchadore quicktime event series which results in Ash pile-driving his enemy from space. The animation, music, and sound are funny, but it is the unexpected nature of these games that makes them truly hilarious.

Doing these correctly triggers outrageous death sequences, full of stylized, cartoonish violence that will appeal to those folks who would like to see a little Mortal Kombat in their Looney Tunes. And just in case it seems like I'm projecting: there is a sequence in which a cartoonish piece of toast pops up from the side of the screen and shouts "TOASTY!" in a falsetto voice. Zelda, Rock Band, and Duck Hunt also get some good natured razzing.

Hell Yeah!'s artwork and sound design is just as intense (if not more so) than its combat. The vivid colors and quirky musical tracks often threaten to overwhelm your attention. There's only so many flashing lights you can handle before losing track of enemies. You can only listen to a deliberately-annoying song for so long until you get impatient and start making bad jumping decisions. Equally distracting (in the most delightful way) are the consistent dialogue jokes and obscure references scattered throughout the environment.

"The Island" offers a break in the chaos, but not the weirdness. Every boss that you defeat gets sent to a Club Med-themed forced labor camp in which you can assign them to produce items and money that you can then take back into the main game. It's not an incredibly deep strategic endeavor, but it is a nice chance to read the monsters' amusing descriptions and save up for the some of the pricier in-game items.

Understandably, Hell Yeah!'s weaknesses stem from this indulgent mindset. Trying to jam everything into one game makes parts of it feel bloated. Certain mini-games are repeated multiple times, thereby dulling their initial shine. The sheer number of guns is impressive, but cycling through them all in linear fashion with a single button is time consuming. Their various upgrades and attributes are not all that clear, which led me to stick with one or two for most of the game. Loading in all that art and sound takes a long time and can sometimes hinder the game's flow. Thankfully, Arkedo acknowledges this issue with a good attitude. One of the loading screen tips mentions the wait times and declares: "It's a statement."

Ultimately, these small issues do little to detract from what is an excellent game. Artistically and mechanically, Hell Yeah! is both an ode to and a modernization of the great 16-bit era platformers. Thematically, it engages in and pokes fun at Internet culture and meta-irony while throwing video game fanatics plenty of insider references. I salute any game that has a space-suit wearing monster named "Lord Irish."

Hell Yeah! was made by folks who clearly love both playing and creating games, Their efforts have culminated in a game that is a pleasure to play.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.