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Review | Raskulls

Cweative, cwever, chawwenging…

Format: Xbox 360 | Genre: Platformer | Publisher: Microsoft Game Studio | Developer: Halfbrick | Release date: 29/12/2010 | Price: 800 MSP

Leena Van Deventer gets boned in RASKULLS.

FROM THE fine folk at Halfbrick Studios who recently offered us Fruit Ninja, Monster Dash, and Age of Zombies on the iOS, comes the long-awaited first of their forays into the Xbox Live Arcade – Raskulls, a puzzle platformer come racing game that features adorable little characters with very pronounced skulls. Raskulls laughs at itself and asks you to laugh with it too, with personality injected into every available crevice via gratuitous spanks and whacks, including the constant throwing of bricks at people in the cutscenes (half-bricks, actually, see what they did there!) andcharming dialogue. Raskulls is adorably self-aware in that old school pantomime way (“What does it do?! It’s important to the plot that’s what it does!” “Pipe down love interest!”) that gives you the motivation to keep clearing levels in the single player campaign just to see what they’re going to say next. It’s that delectable mix of cutesy and difficult that make you think twice about calling it a kid’s game.

The single player campaign sees a space-boat full of Pirats (pirate rats) crash landing on the Raskull’s world after running out of fuel on their way to a planet made entirely out of cheese. The Captain, J. Turncoat, sends out a scouting-bot called the Super Nuclear Ultra Gem Grabbing Laser Extraction System (S.N.U.G.G.L.E.S) to try and find the Shiny Stones they can use as a fuel source to get back in the air. Only problem is, these Shiny Stones belong to the Raskulls. Conflict ensues! It’s your job as Sergeant Bonesaw to make sure that doesn’t happen. Across 3 chapters you make your way through differing challenges on around 8 individual maps, featuring anything from a jungle, to a desert, an ancient temple and a frozen wasteland. It’s a very familiar and nostalgic set up, with each level being connected within the map via pathways, the levels unlocking as you make progress. In Chapter 1 you play as the Dragon, in the following chapter the Ninja, followed by the King in Chapter 3, and completing the game in single player mode unlocks new playable characters in multiplayer mode, including an appearance by Mr Destructoid himself.

The levels themselves vary in objectives, with your standard race being you against a number of AI players attempting to be first to the black-and-white-checkered finish line. In order to do this, you must zap (with your wand) through a number of blocks that are in your way. Colouredblocks take one zap to remove, concrete blocks take 4 zaps. Along the way are Boosties, which you can use to temporarily speed up, and Presents, which act like the question mark blocks in Mario Kart, randomly giving you an advantage of some kind over the other players, which you can fire at will. These include fireballs to mow through blocks, a thunder staff to break the line of blocks of your choosing, and even a mega zap to temporarily paralyse all your opponents. There are dangers along the way, and complications such as swimming through water, avoiding lava, and speed ups dictating your direction and momentum. The levels are not just all about racing however, with many levels being objective based and less about time trials. Levels where you have limited zaps, have to finish while always being on frenzy (via boosties), getting precious cargo to safety without it dropping from too high, or carefully defusing bombs, are all utilised in each chapter giving you enough to do without it getting stale. A number of very hard levels are included on each map to up the difficulty if you feel the standard story-driven gameplay is too easy, but they are optional and not essential to progressing.

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1 Comment

    Nice review. The gameplay looks great, just wondering whether the long term appeal is in the game. But for 800 points I suppose it’s not that big an issue. Since you have the inside scoop as well, do you know if Halfbrick has any DLC plans?

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