One of the more... interesting games I saw at this year's PAX East was at the SEGA booth: Arkedo's Hell Yeah! Basically, it's a Metroidvania-style platformer full of over-the-top violence and gore. You're Ash, a devil rabbit and the prince of hell, but some scandalous photos of you and your rubber ducky in the tub were leaked on the hell-ternet, so it's up to you to find the person responsible for your humiliation, and take out everyone else on the way just for fun. There are 100 monsters to kill in 35 different ways across 10 huge game worlds. When you kill a monster, you'll enter a brief button-mashing mini-game (there are 35 of them) that lets you perform a completely insane finishing move. Not to mention the various weapons and upgrades you can buy with the money you collect... you can even change your outfit if you want to get all fashion-forward about it! It's all a bit much. And it's all a bit awesome and hilarious. What I played was bright, colorful, gory, violent, and most importantly, fun.
When I asked Arkedo's co-founder Camille Guermonprez what inspired this ridiculously insane platformer, he admitted that it emerged from their frustration at dealing with a publisher who refused to pay their studio for the work they'd done on a game. "So we had to start to work for hire for once," he said. "And we did not like it at all. We had to do exactly what other people wanted us to do and we hated every moment of that and we kept on promising each other every week... 'Okay, next game it's ours and we kill monsters... and there's gonna be blood, right? And we're gonna kill them real hard, yeah?' 'Yeah, I promise you. Let's finish this job and I promise you the next game we will kill monsters and do it in awful ways.' But that's the basic idea of the stuff, it was frustration."
The game is quite dark and violent, but infused with a lot of humor. "I was in charge of a bit of the writing of the game, and it's really hard," Guermonprez confessed. "Because we are trying to be irreverent, but not insulting. There are all the bad... the penis jokes, the boob jokes, the fart jokes... you've got them all in there. But we wanted also to make it the Pixar way. You know when you have parents and children and they are laughing at the same scene for two completely different reasons. And it's something that we are really trying to do and having quite a lot of difficulties translating stuff. Because it's a very fine balance, to be... that stupid!"
Hell Yeah! has been rated Pegi 12 in Europe, and was recently given a 17+ here in the US, but Guermonprez admitted that they would have to do quite a bit of tinkering to get some aspects of the game through censors in Japan. But he insists that while the game is dirty and violent, its "in a cute way. That's the thing. Being outrageous, but in a very cute way!"
Hell Yeah! is slated for download later this summer on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.