Review: Raskulls

Raskulls is a new action 2D platform game released on Xbox Live Arcade, from Halfbrick. With Halfbrick already gaining a huge number of fans from their iPhone titles (including the impossibly addictive Fruit Ninja) the release of Raskulls has been eagerly awaited by a huge number of people.

On loading the game I found myself a little bit confused.  “What style of game is this?” I asked myself.  When I got into the game I was presented with an isometric map, like the ones you used to get in Mario on the N64. Once started you play Dragon, a small round child in a green dragon suit.  The kind that would make your girlfriend go “awww”.

When you start a level it really is a race, you have to jump, swim and shoot blocks to get to the end.  However, while you’re trying to get to there you can pick up a few things to help you win; a little like getting the Mario style power-ups, which are shown on screen as little bouncing presents which, when you pick them up, give you a random power up to help you. In the corner of the screen you have a meter which measures how much ‘Frenzy’ you have which, when active, gives you a boost of speed and also lets you shoot faster. The races you play all have a goal, it may be as simple as get to the end in first place, or getting to the end and still having some power left in your wand which adds another element to the game.

Raskulls also comes with a great multiplayer option, where you can get four of your friends and go head to head on the same level. This is a great option and it does keep the game fresh for a while. One of the main restrictions, as it is 2D, is that it becomes difficult to try and use tactics to get the upper hand over your opponents in the race. Even so, it’s still a great feature of the game and no doubt you’ll have fun using it to play with your friends, both online and using the local multiplayer option.

Music in the game reminds me of the 80’s Public Domain Movement on the Amiga, where you would get a lot of synth music and chip music, which actually fits the game perfectly. It gives you a sense of being back in the arcades, spending all your hard-earned pocket money. Visually the game looks great, with the bright backgrounds and cartoony characters working well together to fit the arcadey style perfectly.

There is the option of downloadable content, however currently it’s only pictures and avatars.  My assumption is that should this game become more popular, there will be maps, stories, races and so on available for download to keep the game fresh and multiplayer players happy.

Overall I found Raskulls a great game to play.  It’s got some great moments both in multiplayer and single player mode, and despite the fact there’s nothing overly original in here, it’s a great laugh to play.  It is great fun too if you’re looking for something to play by yourself or with the kids. This is really a good contender for some good family fun, and at only 800 Microsoft points why not?

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