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Bev Chen
08 Jan, 2011

Raskulls Review

360 Review | These Raskulls are worth the mischief.
Brisbane-based indie developer Halfbrick Studios has had quite the run since they opened 2001. Starting off in the way many Australian game companies seem to, they worked on creating several licensed titles before going on to create original IPs, such as the PlayStation Minis hit, Age of Zombies and the phenomenally popular iPhone app, Fruit Ninja. Their latest game, Raskulls, is the studio’s first attempt at creating a major console title, and a marvellous one at that.

The gameplay in Raskulls can probably best be described as an action platformer with puzzle elements. Most stages focus heavily on beating opponents to the finish line, and there are a couple of things the game offers in order to help you emerge from a race victorious. Firstly, there is the Frenzy meter, which fills as you collect little golden orbs and allows you to run at super fast speeds. Secondly, there are power ups, with effects that range from stunning opponents to flame-dashing your way through the stage and its obstacles. Obstacles mostly comprise of numerous coloured blocks that disappear upon being shot. On the surface it sounds like a simple button-mashing affair, but there really is a lot of strategy involved.

For a start, blocks fall after a short period of time, and getting hit by a stack of falling blocks will instantly empty your Frenzy meter, even if you have it activated. Sometimes it’s better to have patience and wait for blocks to fall before making your move, because blocks of the same colour will fuse together (and in the case of grey blocks, disappear entirely). It’s the little things like these that, once you learn the tricks behind them, can really give you an edge in not only the challenges the single player campaign (aptly referred to as the ‘Mega Quest’) throws at you, but especially in multiplayer races.

Play your cards right and you could crush your opponent. Literally.

Play your cards right and you could crush your opponent. Literally.
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Raskulls is packed full of features from the get-go, with a multitude of options available regardless of whether you have any friends or not. Of course, the game’s main feature is Mega Quest, with over 60 stages to clear and a lifespan that could easily go into the double digits. Mega Quest sees you play as King, Ninja and Dragon, who are out to prevent Captain J. Turncoat, leader of the Pirats™, from stealing the legendary Shiny Stones that are scattered throughout the world. The story and dialogue itself is written in such a way that is charmingly self-aware, right down to characters commenting that the Shiny Stones are nothing more than a plot device. It’s also during Mega Quest that the amount of attention paid to the music and graphics is made apparent, with the cartoon aesthetic doing wonders for the nature of the game.

Each area in Mega Quest is divided up into stages, which upon completion, branch off and unlock other stages on the map, just like the older Mario games. To add fuel to the fires of competition, each stage on Mega Quest also shows your XBLA friends’ scores on each stage they have played. There is a good deal of variation in the objectives of each stage, with a lot of them corresponding to the story too, being preceded by a couple of lines of dialogue. The game even boasts boss stages, which usually involve running away from a rapidly advancing enemy with an annoying ability of some description. There are also challenge stages, during which it is possible to unlock new characters for play in multiplayer mode. Hardcore gamers will also be pleased to know that certain stages also have a more difficult version available for play as progress is made; for example, a decreased time limit or stricter rules. That’s not to say that the core levels are not challenging though – in fact, if there’s any complaint to be made about Raskulls it’s that less experienced gamers may find the difficulty curve between levels to be a bit steeper than what they expected.

Don’t have friends? Mega Quest is still a blast.

Don’t have friends? Mega Quest is still a blast.
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Raskulls’s multiplayer offering is also a solid affair that is comparable to the likes of Mario Kart. Players have a choice between Grand Prix and quick race, with local and online support for up to four players and numerous courses available to choose from. The previously explained power up system also does wonders for the competitive spirit of the game. It’s fast, frantic and most of all, highly entertaining for all involved.

Raskulls is one of those titles that does what a lot of games nowadays wish they could do - it manages to make the simplest gameplay addictive. Its quirky sense of humour and adorable art style is sure to appeal to players of all ages, while keeping enough variety in its challenges to make gamers want to keep playing. Halfbrick Studios might have been taking a gamble when they decided to work on this game, but when a game is as entertaining and polished as Raskulls, the risk is definitely well worth it.
The Score
Raskulls is a title that is sure to amuse and entertain for hours on end, with excellent gameplay and a degree of polish that could very well rank it up there among the best Xbox Live Arcade games.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Raskulls Content

Raskulls Mega Trailer released
22 Mar, 2010 Halfbrick's latest on show.
New Raskulls trailer arrives
13 Jun, 2009 Bone rattling, arcade action.
Raskulls trailer debuts
14 May, 2009 Will it rock your bones?
3 Comments
3 years ago
Is this available on PSN as well? It looks really good.
3 years ago
greta review for a great game. No its 360 exclusive. Great to see Aussie company doing well. Add me if you have this

GT - Dany34
3 years ago
good review, one of the best arcade games ive bought lately.
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