Raskulls Review

When just one genre won’t feed your gaming appetite.

King Says Let's Go!

What would happen if you took a side-scroller like Sonic, added racing like Wipeout, toss in random power ups from Mario Kart, build in block clearing action from Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo, paid homage to Mr. Driller and then wrapped it all up with a nice $10 (well, 800 Microsoft Points) bow? You’d have Raskulls, an awesomely enjoyable and readily accessible action platformer developed by Halfbrick and published by Microsoft Game Studios. Rarely does a game that takes flavors from other games successfully blend them together but Raskulls combined them with a nice helping of fun, humor and challenging gameplay.

The gameplay is simple. Clear colored blocks to get from the start line to the finish line. The blocks that will fall down form up with like colors to make bigger blocks. Along the way, you can pick up power ups that allow you to clear multiple blocks with one action, dash across the screen, steal powerups from your opponents or fill up your Frenzy Meter, lending you more time in an activated Frenzy Mode which will increase your speed through the stages.

There are two game modes, Mega Quest, and Grand Prix. Mega Quest is played single player and unlocks playable characters for both local and online multiplayer modes through many different types of challenges including timed races and puzzle stages like Ammo Scrooge, where you have a limited number of “Zaps” to remove blocks between you and the finish line. In Checkpoint Races, the player has to make it to the next checkpoint before time expires. Players are asked to zap bombs to defuse them, but don’t let a block fall on it or go boom that means game over in Bomb Disposal mode.

The Mega Quest introduces you to Dragon; a Raskull dressed as; you guessed it, a Dragon who has been summoned to the Castle by King to help weed out a thief who is planning to steal the treasure. Dragon then proceeds to navigate through the realm from challenge to challenge in a stage what looks very similar to the Overworld in Super Mario World.

The Grand Prix consists of four races where you go up against other competitors. These competitors could be the computer, your friends on your couch, and your friends on their couch or other players on other couches. The blocks that are cleared leave behind small “Frenzy Orbs” that will fill up the Frenzy Bar (See the bottom right of the screen shot). The Raskull in the lead often misses out on filling up their bar with those Orbs so they are left to be acquired by the other racers. This “Frenzy Balance” will allow the player in last place to catch up and get back in the running for first place! As you race, it’s up to you as how to get to the finish line. You can use your power ups to hinder your opponents or clear paths for yourself and leave them far behind.

Ups

  • The challenges have multiple solutions
  • Fascinating characters each with their own personality (Duck, Ridinghood, Wizard and my favorite, Ninja!)

  • Single player games have a multiplayer feel when going up against the computer that prepares the player for what they are in for when playing online with other players
  • The races are clever and with the frenzy balance plus power ups, there’s no guarantee that the person in first place is actually going to win!
  • If you have gained an achievement in ilomilo or World for Keflings, you’ll have, in the multiplayer, a choice to play as one of those characters.

Downs

  • The Mega Quest has some very frustrating challenges, which might alienate some young players
  • Multiplayer does not have the same races that are available for single player, limiting the  diversity of raceways
    • Note: I believe that the colors of the blocks change for each race, and the random power ups may balance out this Down
  • Shape-A-Saurus. I hate you, Shape-a-saurus.

Bottom Line

For those of you that have a 360 and no other console, this is a perfect pickup for those party game nights or to join in with your friends for a fun little challenge and escape. I enjoyed sharing the Mega Quest challenges with a friend.

How Acquired: I used some of my Santa delivered Points to purchase this for myself.