Like the majority of modern gamers, I have fond memories of my first forays into the form. Whether your first “favourite” character was Mario, Spyro the dragon, or even Guybrush Threepwood, they will always have a place in your heart.
My first favourite was Jazz Jackrabbit; a green Jackrabbit from the PC action-platforming series of the same name with a red bandana and a grudge. Essentially early Duke Nukem on acid, but greatly inspired by games such as Zool and Sonic. Though it never gained the same popularity as SEGA’s blue beauty, it was in some ways a cult hit.
Hell Yeah Is NOT a sequel to Jazz Jackrabbit; In fact, they aren’t even related, but it is easy to see why comparisons can easily be made. Both star an angry Rabbit with a thirst for revenge as the protagonist, both contain varied environments and enemies, both are stunning examples of platforming in their respective eras and both are absolutely MENTAL. But despite the retro feel and classic elements, Hell Yeah is a distinct game in its own right.
The game follows Ash, the newly-in-power Prince of the underworld (and aforementioned “Dead Rabbit”) as he attempts to fix a huge publicity problem involving embarrassing photos of him in the only way he can; through lots of brutal murder. Despite a rather simplistic concept, it is interesting to see some serious problems being raised. In many ways it’s a bit of a criticism of the modern media obsession with celebrity, but with cartoon gore and smiling toast. The fact that some of the “enemies” are simply innocent bystanders who just accidentally saw the photo mimics reality, and subtly adds to this criticism whilst making the player consider the issues raised.
Story aside, the gameplay itself is surprisingly simple. Each level consists of smaller enemies and bigger, more impressive beasts. As mentioned previously, the aim of the game itself is to murder the 100 creatures who’ve seen the photos, and this is done using the Buzz-saw Jetpack and an arsenal of deadly weaponry. Though your choices start off small, by the time you go against anything difficult, you have access to quite a few choices including a minigun, missile launcher and grenades. Regardless of what weapon you use, you feel like a badass. The over-the-top gore pops out in classic cartoon style making each kill look and feel completely satisfying. The only quibble I have about the combat is the warioware-esque minigames you are forced to undertake in. Granted, they provide a satisfying and hilarious kill, but there just isn’t enough variety to justify the inclusion at every single big kill.
The intent of the developer in terms of comedic value is obvious; within the first 30 minutes of gameplay you’ve battled a chainsaw-poo, had a nice conversation with a nice first boss, killed him, and realised that your butler is a bit of a stalker. The self-deprecating humour comes thick and fast alongside cultural and gaming meta-references aplenty. The majority of it translates rather well, but you can tell that much of it is geared to a Japanese Audience. However, the confusion that the aforementioned creates is funny in its own way. A truly inspired idea is the inclusion of wheel customisation and hats. Granted, it’s a case of collect and count rather than DIY, but it’s rather ironic to fly around hell shredding up critters with a duck ring and an afro.
One aspect I love about Hell Yeah! In particular is the soundtrack. It’s funky and stays relevant to the action throughout. The first time you take a ride in the saw the music makes you want to just tear something to shreds in the best possible way.
On the other end of the scale however, we find the problem with combining old-school 2D action platformers with the modern gaming world. It’s fair to say that the difficulty curve in Hell Yeah! is incredibly unforgiving. The first level is rather easy and the curve sweeps well for the next couple of levels. However, soon after things become difficult and can but a block on progression. This can easily take the game from fun to frustrating.
Aside from the mindless violence there is also a mini-meta-game where you force the creatures you have killed to work for you in order to get powerups, more customisation options and extra health. Whilst initially interesting, this seems like an arbitrary addition to try and pad things out.
The stand-out moment is when you notice the amount of detail inherent in the title. For example, each creature has two names and a backstory. The world is vibrant and alive in all its hi-def glory and yet nothing feels out of place.
All things considered, Hell Yeah! is a fun, outrageous romp that combines old-school values with modern aesthetics. Despite the steep difficulty, once you get used to the game it becomes less of an issue and you return to having a good laugh with a bit of perseverance. Depending on skill, it will probably take somewhere between 7 and 9 hours to complete, so for a downloadable title at £9.99 the run-time isn’t bad. I’d definitely recommend giving it a look, if only for the chance to run around in a saw and chop up creatures with a great backstory. Pardon the pun, but it’s one hell of a game!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.
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