Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Platformer, puzzle game, and racing game are the three separate genres that come together in the form of Halfbrick’s new Xbox LIVE Arcade game, Raskulls. A full campaign filled with an amazing variety of levels and game modes alone is worth the 800 Microsoft Points it costs. Included in the full game are both local multiplayer with bots and online multiplayer with three other players. I can’t say enough how much this game took over my gaming during the time I was reviewing it. I found myself playing events over and over to beat out a few others on my friends list. Raskulls is one of my favorite downloadable games released in 2010, and hopefully we will see more downloadable content in 2011.
Raskulls combines platforming, racing, a puzzle game and humor to create one of the most unique games of 2010. You control the Raskulls, a merry bunch of characters who are trying to retrieve shiny skulls from evil rats who are trying to steal it for themselves. You are charged by the king of the Raskulls to get them back through the Mega Quest. This main single player campaign features races, puzzles and boss battles through three separate chapters. There are a ton of levels and this campaign alone would be well worth the 800 Microsoft Points that Halfbrick and Microsoft are charging for a download. They have even included special “red” levels that are much more challenging than the normal “blue” levels. These are not required to complete the game, but are a great diversion for those looking for more difficult gameplay.
Raskulls‘ main quest is filled with a slew of different modes; from straight out races (events that require you to get to checkpoints in an allotted amount of time), Frenzy’s that force you to keep your turbo up during the entire race, pursuits, defuse the bomb events and more. The shear variety keeps the gameplay fresh and branching paths allow you to get past one event that you may be stuck on. Some events require precision, some fast button presses, some sheer luck and others much repetition. I give Halfbrick all the credit in the world for keeping each level fresh, well designed and fun to play. I kept playing some of the harder levels over and over, not because I knew I had to finish it but because I knew it was my fault I failed. This is one of the hardest things to achieve through game design and Halfbrick has developed it throughout Raskulls.
If you do end up finishing the Mega Quest, there are two other modes in Raskulls, The Grand Prix and Quick Races, which are pretty self explanatory and won’t hold your attention too long. This is unless you have a ton of friends that play this game, because the leaderboards will keep you coming back again and again. Similar to other recent game releases, the constant reminder of where you are in relation to your friends list and globally can cause the “just one more try” syndrome we all love to hate.
Up until this point, I have only touched on single player parts of the game, but Halfbrick has included both local and online multiplayer in this Raskulls. You can play Grand Prix and Quick Race locally, both of which allow for the inclusion of AI character to fill out the four player field if necessary. As for online multiplayer, there is matchmaking and the ability to have your Xbox Live Party join a match instead of playing with other random players.
I can’t seem to get enough of Halfbrick’s Raskulls. Even during the time it took me to write this review, I got hooked on Raskulls again after booting it up to do some fact checking. I unlocked a few more characters after playing a few of the more difficult levels. I just can’t tell you how much I have fallen in love with the characters and gameplay in Raskulls. For a mere 800 Microsoft Points, you can enjoy the unique, quirky platformer that Halfbrick has created. There will be more DLC in the future and I can’t wait for it to come. This is easily one of my favorite downloadable games of 2010. Download it, support a great game and hopefully we will see more levels and characters in 2011.
Gameplay video of Raskulls from Halfbrick:
Thanks to Microsoft and Halfbrick for making this review possible!