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It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out that Hell Yeah! is over the top. A brief glimpse at a few screenshots will reveal that there is simply nothing like it. Fans of atmospheric, old-school, Metroidvania platformers/shooters shouldn’t even need to heed my words. Still, if you seek a little reassurance, here you go.
The story surrounds Ash, the prince of Hell. A compromising picture of him, naked in the tub with his rubber ducky, leaks on the Hell-ternet. (See, Hell isn’t that bad; they have internet… even if it is probably dial up.) To seek vengeance and reestablish his awesomeness, Ash must hunt down the person responsible for the leak and dispose of the em-bare-ass-ing evidence. Standing in his way are 100 other poor saps and locked doors impeding his progress, all which must be destroyed. But honestly, who really cares about the story for a goofy 2D platformer? What about the gameplay, you ask, even after I have already typed this?
For the majority of the game, Ash rides around in a wheel covered in destructive blades. This wheel of doom aids in traversal, helps destroy walls, and even acts as a jetpack. There are also sections where Ash abandons the wheel for some traditional platforming, or enters ships and submarines. In the beginning, enemies can be dismantled merely by grinding the wheel against their faces. As the story progresses, minions and bosses get tougher. Multiple guns are made available via the in-game store. These include a shotgun, bazooka, flamethrower, Gatling gun, Holy Water shooter, laser gun, and various grenade launchers. While ammo is unlimited for everything accept the grenade launchers, each weapon has an ammo bar that is depleted when used too quickly. This gives each gun its own strategic advantages and disadvantages that will keep you trying multiple combinations.
Draining a foe’s life bar leads to a short, gore-filled, humorous, WarioWare-like mini-game. Completing these various mini-games, finishes off each challenger, while failing them hurts Ash, forcing him to try again. There are dozens of these mini-games, which often contain humorous homages to classic games. Most of them contain some sort of quick time events, button mashing, or require proper timing. Some, like the one containing a Mortal Kombat reference, always made me giggle. Others wore out their welcome somewhat quickly, or were nebulously frustrating until the solution was figured out. I’m still not sure if there was a point to the ‘Quiz of Doom’ game which asked a question and gave wacky multiple choice answers. More often than not, even if they did get a bit repetitive, they were still fun to watch.
The controls were a bit loose. Button configuration was a bit weird too. On many occasions, I found myself watching the Megaman-esque death animation as I landed on one of the myriad of death spikes. Albeit a great nod, it did grow somewhat frustrating since it clearly wasn’t my fault since I am a gaming god. There were also some side missions which involved doing tricks with the wheel. Just because your mascot is a squid, doesn’t mean your consumers have more than two appendages they play games with, Arkedo. Still, these were optional, so you don’t have to torture yourself like I did.
There were a couple technical issues with the game. Loading screens were somewhat lengthy considering the game’s 2D simplicity. Clever tips and statements during loading try to make light of the situation, even referencing the long load times, but I’ve had sold my soul to the Devil himself to get in the game a bit quicker. The audio in game would tend to skip slightly in some situations, but it was almost unnoticeable thanks to the often frenetic soundtrack, which often just made it sound like a remix.
While the game did have a few faults, it had plenty of great attributes. The various weapons were fun to unlock and use. There were also dozens of hidden and unlockable collectibles to customize Ash’s head and his wheel. The ebb and flow of the varied gameplay and platforming elements kept the overall experience fresh.
Most of all, the environments were stunning. There’s quite a bit of variation in Hell. Ten zones offer plenty of sights to see. The Casino Zone is sure to be a hit with Sonic nuts – as is the retro Sega logo and audio that greets you as you boot up the game. The Psychedelic Zone also really impressed. But my personal favorite was “Happy Cute” Zone with its hearts, rainbows, and an infectiously hilarious song that was simultaneously insanely awesome and annoying, just as intended. In my eyes, a platformer is only ever as good as its environments, and Hell Yeah! delivers with some beautiful, unique zones.
From beginning to end, the game is chock-full of quirky characters and imagery. It sprung from some really creative minds. Much like the classic platforming games of yesteryear, sheer joy comes from seeing what interesting environments wait just around the corner. The video game reference, spanning decades, also keep the humor flowing. Space Invaders, Duck Hunt, Sonic, Ocarina of Time, Guitar Hero – it’s all there in humorous fashion. These qualities more than make up for my few gripes, making Hell Yeah! a title worthy of the time of any platforming fan.
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- Visuals and environments are unique.
- Music is infectious.
- Various video game references provide ample humor.
- Loading times are somewhat lengthy.
- Loose controls can lead to some frustration.