Raskulls

Raskulls
Format: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1-4
Online: 2-4
Price: 800 ms points
Genre: Platform Puzzle Racer
Release Date: 29th December 2010
Halfbrick

Super Mario meets Mr. Driller meets Sonic The Hedgehog 3’s multiplayer mode my best attempt at comparing Raskulls to other games out there. Platforming, racing and puzzling are the tasks on offer in the cute skeleton infested game and it is one of the funnest games I’ve played in a while.

Raskulls is a game about zapping coloured blocks and different modes of play are offered in how you deal with these blocks. You have races, platforming, puzzles and boss fights through a 67 stage single player and a Grand Prix style race mode across four cups for multiplayer. Already with the numbers, Raskulls feels sizable and a cute yet amusing art style and story give everything that extra character, so at least it looks good. It may appear a little childish at first with the bright primary colours and cute cast, but the humour is quite adult at times (though nothing too risque) so everyone will quickly fall into the Raskull world.  The King in particular is a great character, sending messages by brick and generally feeling he is the greatest thing in the world, ever.

Gameplay has you moving a character, dashing once juice has been collecting, firing special powers, jumping over obstacles and breaking blocks you find. These moves carry over to each game type so you don’t have to learn any new tricks and the variety on offer keeps the game from being repetitive. Races crop up the most and make up the multiplayer segment, which is great fun as you try to crush your foes with blocks and it has a great handicap of allowing weaker players to catch up thanks to the block ridden path being reduced as the raskull in first paves the way. The puzzle modes in the single player break up the racing nicely as you try to cut certain shapes, get through a stage with a limited amount of ‘zaps’, defuse bombs and carefully chip away under objects so they can land safely. It would have been nice if some modes came up a little more though, the shape cutting mode only appears three times in the whole game!

Another problem is the difficulty balancing. The story missions in single player are a walk in the park, while the side missions are incredibly challenging. This isn’t a bad thing per se, but the fact these challenges crop up near the start of the game shows poor balancing of a difficulty curve. You can go back once you’re better, but it would have been better to have everything gradually getting more difficult, rather than sticking story on easy and bonus on hard.

Raskulls has an innovative take on the platform genre, a challenging single player, a fun multiplayer worth replaying, a variety of modes and a shinobi which steals clothes. Don’t overlook it because of its cute looks.

8/10

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