Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit ReviewJoe Shaffer
There was a time when violence and gore were not so commonplace in video games. I remember that era, when my friends gushed over upcoming titles that promised buckets of blood and guts. We ate those promises up and sought after such games, not because they seemed genuinely solid, but because playing them was forbidden. Everyone, from parents to teachers to religious leaders, scoffed at the concept of exposing our fragile minds to such subversive material, fearing that these games would turn us into bloodthirsty killers or mindless burnouts devoid of empathy. I will say that, at least in my case, they were wrong. Well, mostly.
No matter how hard anyone tried, no one successfully prevented us from delving into Doom or popping quarters into Mortal Kombat. Both titles, and many others, ushered us into a devious realm where we watched our grimmest fantasies play out, from exploding chests to decapitations. Soon we were all desensitized, and further adventures down these bloodstained avenues grew staler with each new "gory game." Eventually gore became par for the course, and titles made specifically to showcase such material dwindled and eventually faded.
That, of course, sets us up for a throwback title.
Brutal simplicity returns in the form of Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit, a 2D platformer that boasts barrels of bloody mayhem. Here you take the role of Prince Ash, the ruler of Hell, on a mission to murder one hundred minions who happened to spy Ash playing with a rubber ducky on a muckraker's website. Humiliated, the prince decides it's better to dole out judicious slaughter than explain away the gaffe.
To reduce the minion population efficiently, Ash requires smooth mobility and an impressive arsenal. Thus, he secures a combination jet-pack/saw blade that not only provides him with the ability to temporarily float, but also to slice demonic punks to ribbons. However, while the blade is handy, it's not sufficient for killing every adversary (especially metallic ones). That's why the developers included an impressive list of firearms, ranging from a hard-kicking revolver to a destructive bazooka, and even including a holy water gun that exudes green slime, a devastating laser cannon, and a crippling four-cannon rocket launcher. Blade and bullets equipped, the prince cruises through the convoluted corridors of Perdition to locate and annihilate various mini-bosses in grisly (and hilarious) ways. In the process, he lines his with coins and gems that grant him access to new weaponry, upgrades, and skins in special shops.
Just the act of murder isn't enough, though. The developers must have known that repetitive splatters would only bore players before long, and thus decided to include a simple, neat feature in the form of death animations. For as you slice and dice each malefic moron, the game thrusts you into one of various quicktime events or mini-games featuring ridiculous depictions of carnage. For instance, upon defeating a certain queen, Ash dons a luchador outfit and wrestles the monarch to death, ending the showdown with a devastating elbow drop from outer space.
Death animations add an element of addictiveness to the title. I found myself crawling from one enemy to the next in order to witness as many of them as possible, sometimes unaware of the passage of time. By the end credits, I saw the prince blast a sentient piece of fecal matter with a high-powered laser cannon, roast a regal sheep with a pair of enormous flints, launch an anthropomorphic flower into outer space, and summon a hungry T. Rex to devour a smitten ass (literally, the creature was a rump with eyes). One of my favorites involved a demonic dachshund urinating on a defeated opponent, causing an evil tree to sprout from the puddle that tore the foe to bits.
I definitely had a blast with this title for a fair chunk of it. Sadly, though, around kill seventy the game lost its flavor. At that point, the repetitive process of locating and offing minions had grown a little tiresome. Bear in mind, you have to take out one hundred of them. With so many deviants to maim, it's not unreasonable to suppose that the game's charm would wear thin.
Although there's some grim catharsis in destroying all one hundred viewers, the game offers little variety to alleviate the repetition. While there are a few stages that deviate from Hell Yeah!'s core mechanics, such as one segment that involves piloting a submarine through tight quarters, there aren't enough such unique stages or scenes. Worse, you see many of the same death animations ad nauseam, which serves only to reinforce the repetitive feel.
Despite one major downside, Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is still an enjoyable distraction. You just have to be mindful of what kind of game you're playing. Hell Yeah! wasn't intended to be a deep experience that furthers the notion of video games as art. Instead, it's an interactive bloodbath that's great for blowing off steam; a simple, streamlined gorefest that demands little intellect and offers light entertainment. I don't know about you, but sometimes that's all I ask for.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.