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E3 2012: Hell Yeah! hands-on

E3 2012

Hell Yeah! is the latest game from French XBLIG vets Arkedo. As their first published title, by way of Sega, Hell Yeah! stands as a significant step forward for the indie dev and a testament to what came before.

The title is about the badass Prince of hell whom is caught in an incriminating paparazzi photograph playing with his rubber duck in the bath. The photo quickly spread through the internets of hell and so now the Prince must vanquish all who saw it. And so his bloodlust is setup and the Prince sets about killing off all 100 monsters that are privy to his less than masculine deeds.

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The surprising thing with Hell Yeah! is that Arkedo’s vision of hell isn’t some dismal typified portrayal but is informed by an overabundance of color and character. It takes on a similarly neon-loving scheme as prior Arkedo titles but with the newfound publisher backing, they’re able to fully capitalize on all that existing potential. This is one of the great things about the XBLIGs and the developers doing the best work in that space – there’s something exciting about finally seeing them break through.

Hell Yeah!’s mechanics are every bit as eccentric. The Prince collects abilities and can shop for more in a storefront spoof of typified DLC packs. Of the abilities, we saw a saw blade to help dig through new areas, a rocket launcher for out-of-reach enemies, and picked up an ironic powdered wig for the hell of it. Some medium sized enemies present more abstract challenges like over-emphasized, yet satisfying quick-time events and a nonsensical trivia question. Get these sections right and the enemies are killed with ridiculously overstated flourishes. These more clever mechanics are worked over on top of a more traditional Metroidvania-style platformer. But that extra dusting of creativity makes a difference.

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There’s a self-awareness present, carried through from the typical kind found on XBLIG. At some point the Prince makes a comment that at least he’s not having to collect seven emeralds. And when he finds the boss doesn’t have his photograph he decides to fight him anyway. Because it’s a videogame and that’s how those work. It’s this unique slant that so often differentiates the indie games and it’s reassuring to see Arkedo holding onto that commentary.

A promising title with a fresh look and a signature brand of self-awareness, Hell Yeah! will be released on downloadable platforms later this year.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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