Providing a new twist on puzzle games has proved a hard fate for developers with many of them simply going down the lines of creating slight variations in the gameplay. Nevertheless, every so often a game comes along that takes the genre by storm, this time from predominantly mobile application developer, Halfbrick, with their first attempt at an Xbox Live Arcade game, Raskulls.
The concept behind the game is for players to consume the role of the “Raskulls” as they navigate through platform-based levels filled with blocks of different shapes, sizes and colours, destroying the blocks using their ‘block-breaking wands,’ in order to create a path.
The game’s main mode is Mega-Quest which contains a narrative that consists of Captain J. Turncoat (Captain of the Pirats) crash-landing his ship on the world of the Raskulls. He aims to get his ship back up and running using the power of the shiny stones – objects with incredible power. It’s up to the Raskulls to protect the Pirats from obtaining the shiny stones.
Within the mode, players collect medallions by completing a number of the challenges the game provides. The challenges contain a good variation, requiring players to complete laps before the time runs out, completing the level using a certain number of zaps, getting certain objects to safety by destroying blocks, sculpturing blocks into shapes and more. Further tasks include the ‘Mega Challenges’ that are “horrendously difficult challenges where anything can happen,” often rewarding players with additional characters for the game’s multiplayer and cheats.
Evident on a number of the game’s challenges and a feature that has been well implemented into the game is the ‘Friends Leaderboard’ which allows players to record times and compare them with their friends. This is a great way of competing against players on your friends list.
Overall, the Mega Quest is a great mode that will take players a couple of hours to complete. Containing three chapters, the entertaining simple-to-follow narrative contains some great humour which will have players laughing out loud. Nevertheless, there's very little in the way of replayability upon completion. Thankfully, there are a number of other game modes on offer.
The remaining single player options are Grand Prix and Quick Race, both of which provide gamers with a quick Raskulls experience. These game modes are also available to play in the local multiplayer, which is the strong point of the game. Splitting the screen with up to four players is the basis for some thoroughly enjoyable competitive gameplay.
The multiplayer extends to Xbox Live where players are able to play the Grand Prix game mode, again, with up to four players. At the start of each game, players select what type of race they wish to partake in and a Grand Prix is generated based on the choices. This system allows for players to be able to select challenges based on their strengths and completes the game’s overall package.
From a development point of view, Raskulls is to a very good standard. Graphically, the Castle Crashers-esque look has been well-drawn and the bright, vibrant colours couldn’t suit more. Furthermore, the game’s audio is to a similar level with the soundtrack adequately matching each of the game’s worlds and suiting the game’s style.
To conclude, Raskulls is a fantastic Xbox Live Arcade title. The unique twist on the puzzle genre and its great multiplayer makes this a title to certainly consider purchasing, despite the lack of replayability after completion of the title’s main quest.
David Wriglesworth is a Northern lad with a passion for gaming, who graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BA (Hons) Journalism degree. If you can drag him away from the consoles, you can probably find him Tweeting or watching Coronation Street.