Hell Yeah! (not to be confused with the heavy metal band I’ve never heard) is an all-new Metroidvania-style platformer. The subgenre name comes from the game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which blended the Castlevania series’ action-platforming with the nonlinear exploration of the Metroid series. Instead of separate, discrete levels, games of this type feature vast, interconnecting areas, many of which require new equipment to fully explore.
Arkedo’s take on the genre revolves around a rabbit named Ash who is actually the king of Hell, hence the title. Someone has taken nude photos of Ash with his rubber ducky and posted them online, where they were viewed by a total of 101 monsters. Thus the king sets out to discover who took the pics and kill all who’ve seen him in the buff. It’s a silly plot, yes.
The main draw of Hell Yeah!, besides its brilliant art style, is taking down those monsters. Each one is completely different. Some are tiny minibosses, some huge, hulking full-on bosses. Some are even completely innocent and won’t fight back. Whatever the case, whenever you deplete one of the target monster’s life meters, you’ll engage in a short and zany microgame.
These Wario Ware-like activities will have you rapping scrolling buttons to play guitar, dodging obstacles in a truck, mashing buttons to lift weights, and lots more. Succeed and you’ll kill off the monster in a cartoonish and bloody (but not gory) finishing move, often accompanied by references to other games like Mortal Kombat and Chu Chu Rocket. There must be over 30 different microgames, several of which repeat as the game goes on. Still, they’re quite funny and keep things fresh.
Ash starts the game on foot and with no weapons to defend himself, but before long he’ll start to build an arsenal. His chief tool is a buzz saw-like wheel that he can use to drill through rocks, roll up walls a bit, and attack weaker enemies. He can also fire a variety of guns with the right stick, though right-stick aiming doesn’t mix great with pressing A to jump. From time to time Ash needs to hoof it on foot again, mixing things up nicely. Interludes where you man a turret, submarine, and spaceship add even more variety.
While Hell Yeah! is my favorite Arkedo game so far, it’s not perfect. The difficulty sometimes ratchets up weirdly, mostly due to sections laden with far too many instant-death spikes. It’s more linear than most games of this type, with little meaningful incentive to stray from the beaten path. The island-ruling minigame feels undercooked and adds nothing to the title as a whole. Also, while the translation from French to English retains plenty of humor and clever game references, it still reads awkwardly at times.
Those quibbles aside, Hell Yeah!’s biggest problem is that it comes so closely after Dust: An Elysian Tale, the final Summer of Arcade release of August and my current pick for Game of the Year. Dust sports full voice acting, a much deeper plot, and more overall polish. But you can never have too many Metroidvania games; it’s not exactly a highly populated genre. With gameplay that mixes platforming, shooting, and exploration, plus a wicked sense of humor and style, Hell Yeah! makes its own mark in the XBLA lineup. 400 GamerScore worth of relatively easy Achievements doesn’t hurt either.
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit costs 1200 Microsoft Points on XBLA and $15 on PSN. Get the XBLA version here at Xbox.com.
Editor's Note: This review is based on the XBLA version of Hell Yeah! which was supplied by the publisher.