Halfbrick came to visit us all the way from Australia to show us its upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game that is set to be released earlier next year. Raskulls is a frantic and fast-paced action platformer that can be played with up to four players. Halfbrick originally intended to make a Nintendo DS game that had a simple mechanic, such as Namco's Mr. Driller, but decided to build a single-player mode from scratch and move it to the Xbox 360. Raskulls is the first original IP from Halfbrick Studios, and Phil Larsen from Halfbrick stopped by to show us the game.
The colorful, cartoony visuals make it easy to get sucked into the game. Raskulls are skull-faced creatures that are dressed in a variety of goofy outfits. In the main campaign, the story revolves around a shiny rock that mouse pirates are after, so it's up to the raskulls to keep the rock safe. More than 60 levels across three world maps are included in the single-player megaquest campaign, with different types of gameplay and puzzle levels to complete. We played through the single-player trial to get an idea of the various gameplay mechanics.
As one of the raskulls, you are armed with a small gun to shoot--in any direction--your way through colored blocks, which will disappear and collapse onto each other. Hopefully, you can do so without getting stuck underneath those blocks. The levels are designed so that you can time your shots to make it harder for those who are following closely behind you. There are gifts and items to collect along the way that can give you power-ups to plow through the blocks, hit your opponents, or activate your frenzy meter so that you can dash around for a limited time. Some levels require that you make it to the finish line first (or not last), and you may have to plan carefully to make it to the end of the stage with a limited amount of ammo.
To keep the competition alive but with real opponents, you can play with up to four players split-screen locally or online. Quick-race mode lets you just jump into a level and play, whereas Grand Prix will put you into a series of four levels where you'll earn points to try to come out on top. As you go through the main game, you'll unlock a cast of colorful characters to play in the multiplayer. Some examples include a raskull dressed as a cop, dragon, wizard, ninja, little red riding hood, duck, or koala. If you can't round up enough people, you can play against the computer and toggle the difficulty setting to play in any of 16 stages.
From our short experience with it, Raskulls is a cute and fun game to play with a group of four. It's easy to pick up and play but still requires a bit of strategy to make it to the finish line in record time. Look for Raskulls when it is released in February 2010.