Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit was developed by Arkedo Games and published by Sega. It was released September 26, 2012 in North America and a week later in the UK for 1200 MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.

It’s difficult to classify Hell Yeah! in a single easy statement. Arkedo’s Xbox Live Arcade debut draws heavily upon classic games such as Sonic, Mario, WarioWare, Parodius, Mortal Kombat and just about everything in-between, but remains almost entirely unique at the same time. Put simply, Hell Yeah! is one of the most enjoyable XBLA titles we’ve played this year, despite the occasional flaw and my own reservations about some of the humor.

The game begins with the most tenuous of story lines as Ash (the Dead Rabbit Prince of Hell and main protagonist of Hell Yeah!) is pictured in the act of bathing with his rubber duck by a nosy paparazzi. The pictures are quickly uploaded to the Hell-ternet and much embarrassment follows for our hero. Determined to have his revenge (and to recover the photos) Ash sets out to defeat one hundred and one monsters across a range of unique and interesting worlds.

Here’s what we liked:

A good show – From the very first level of Hell Yeah! until the very last, each and every stage is wonderfully detailed and alive with vibrant colors and wonderful animation. Almost every platforming staple is taken into account, from dungeon settings, to space, to a psychedelic hippie world. Each has a suitable (and usually enjoyable) musical score, whilst the enemies are varied and befitting of the environments in which they are found.

Lasting challenge – With one hundred and one main monsters to kill, around eight base levels (with areas to revisit) and a number of tough boss monster encounters, Hell Yeah! provides a large amount of content, dished out in a challenging (and only occasionally frustrating) way. There is a lot of variety here, with the main 2D platform game style being broken up by occasional shooter sections and WarioWare style mini games whenever Ash meets one of the one hundred and one main monsters.

Sheer joy – Most importantly, Hell Yeah! is really good fun. Forget about the hit and miss humor and the pointless storyline and focus on the core gameplay instead. If you can manage that, then you will discover that Arkedo’s game draws on some of the finest elements from the best examples of classic gaming. At it’s heart, Hell Yeah! is a fabulous homage to the 2D platformer, with just enough shooting and minigame variety to keep things interesting throughout.

Here’s what we didn’t like:

Missed punchlines Hell Yeah! possesses a fairly childish sense of written humor which is easy to either not understand or not enjoy in entirely. Arkedo co-founder Camille Guermonprez explained that it has been challenging translating the humor for various regions, so perhaps it’s simply a matter of taste.

Occasionally amateur – A bigger problem for Hell Yeah! is that because the standard of gameplay is so high throughout, it can occasionally feel like a dead stop when you do encounter a small annoyance. The game features an Island location where Ash can put the main monsters that he has captured to work for him, yet there is no way to access the Island from within the game itself . Only by exiting to the main menu and then choosing the Island option can you access it. The checkpoints and health systems are also hit and miss. Checkpoints appear often enough, but there is no health regeneration upon respawn. This results in situations where Ash will die several times over and over because of a tricky checkpoint location or enemy. There are some other occasional issues around this point, but in general it’s not game breaking.

Mash all buttons – On a similar note, while we love the actual platforming gameplay, we were little less impressed by some of the main and boss monster encounters. To defeat a main monster, Ash must first reduce its health and then beat a button mashing/timing/dodging minigame. Because there are one hundred and one ‘main’ monsters, there is some repetition in both the way he must reduce their health (usually by spamming with missiles/bullets) and in the minigames themselves (of which there are thirty five).

We recommend Hell Yeah!, despite the fact that it appears we’ve written more about the flaws than good bits. Hell Yeah! is more than just a well executed platformer with nods to classic games like Sonic, Metroid, WarioWare et al. It’s all of those things, but it’s also a lovingly crafted and generally well executed experience which, like an exuberant puppy, only ever makes you angry because it’s trying so hard to impress. Seriously, who stays mad with a puppy when he sits there wagging his tail so happily even after getting into trouble?

Score: Buy It