Hell Yeah!

It’s called a “PAX moment.” A journalist walks across the show floor from one big-game appointment to another when something catches his eye. The next thing he knows, he’s playing a small game no one’s ever heard of before and is late for his next appointment. This process favors the flashy and the colorful, which is exactly how to describe Hell Yeah!.

Hell Yeah!, which is being developed by Arkedo and will be published by Sega, doesn’t hold back in its all-out assault on corneas. The 2D platformer employs a deep color palette and shockingly smooth framerate that turned the heads of many passing PAX East 2012 attendees.

Hell Yeah!The action of Hell Yeah! takes place in the realm of Hell. The French developer paints the biblical inferno with sugary magentas and crimsons that coat the eyes in pleasure. When people talk about how games could look as good as a Pixar movie, it’s because games like this make it clear that the medium has already surpassed the best hand-drawn animated films. It’s a color set that is rarely seen in big-budget productions and is only ever used in indy titles like Bastion.

While the art style is what has stuck with me, I know that what truly drew my attention was the 60 frames-per-second. The buttery smooth motion of the animation coupled with the cartoon design creates a weird sense of hyper-reality. It can actually be disorienting, and when the camera panned to reveal a destination further down the map, it made me dizzy.

Arkedo peppers the experience with its French humor. For example, a dead rabbit has no use for a life meter. Instead of hearts or a red health-point bar, the prince’s wellness is measured in blood. If a Hell-monster damages the character, one of the ways to return to full strength is to get some of that sweet hemoglobin from a literal blood bath.

Ultimately, Hell Yeah! is a game about crisis management. It puts players in control of a dead rabbit who is the prince of Hell and embroiled in an Internet scandal. Photos of his highness in a bathtub with his rubber ducky have appeared online. Embarrassed, the prince is forced to prove he isn’t soft to his fellow denizens. We’ve all been in that situation.

The prince shouldn’t have difficulty proving that he maintains a high level of badassing to players. The standard weapon is a chainsaw/circular-saw hybrid that is larger than the main character. Killing enemies is fairly standard. Holding R-trigger on a 360 controller activates the deadly buzzing, and it doesn’t require much skill to bring the enemies’ health to zero.

But when a target’s HP does hit zero, a custom “finish him” minigame begins. These moments can range from tapping A to squeeze a ball-shaped monster to splitting another baddie into strips of steak with a comically enlarged version of the saw.

These special kills are different for each enemy type of which the game has over 100.

Hell Yeah! has style coming out its dead-rabbit ears. I laughed out loud at some of the over-the-top sight gags, and this is possibly the most visually arresting game on the PAX East show floor.

Hell Yeah! will be available on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and PC. It is currently slated for a summer release.